This week (October 10th) Pure Storage brought its global travelling tech conference, Accelerate, to the Woolwich Works Fireworks Factory in London. As well as attending to hear the future news and market trends from Pure, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the conference and record some video content with the Pure team.
The Pure strapline for the event was:
"Get inspired, make connections, and accelerate your transformation. Pure//Accelerate 2023 London is the place to get the tools you need for sustainable change, energy efficiency, and organisational excellence."
The event definitely lived up to the strapline, and it was a great day of speaking to customers and the experts at Pure. It is fantastic that, in a world of cutbacks and online meetings, Pure provides such a broad selection of venues for the Accelerate event. We see so many tech vendors gravitate to Las Vegas and forget about the rest of the world!
It was a great venue to spend the day in; instead of the usual conference centre or hotel. Overall, big kudos to Pure for a fantastic event in every aspect.
It was also cool to see the CDW branding all around the event, as we took the lead as a key sponsor; really showing the close partnership we have with Pure Storage.
Here is a summary of the keynote and general session presentations at Pure//Accelerate London. Along with some of my thoughts on the announcements.
Pure Founder - Coz
It is now 14 years since the founding of Pure Storage; crazy to think that still makes them one of the disruptors in the market! The company was founded on the big bet that Flash would be the future for all workloads (here we are 14 years later on the precipice of that being a reality). Coz (Pure Founder) talked about the 70-year history of spinning disks and its 50-year dominance of the storage market. He also touched on how it was not until 2001 that incremental performance in disk flattened out and then later in 2010 when capacity hit the same plateau. These limitations in the spinning disk technology are what led to the door opening for Flash. Coz effectively demonstrated the stark differences from spinning disk to flash as he dropped an Enterprise Disk (in caddy) on the table with a resounding thud! Followed by the nearly silent drop of a Pure Flash Module.
After winning the battles for both capacity and performance, the only battleground left for Flash is cost, and Coz sees that battle fast approaching. As we look at the innovation curve, we see disk moving forward 5x in a decade with Flash advancing by over 150x. With a longer lifespan, less e-waste and now greater capacities (as he waves a 75TB Flash module around!) we are seeing Flash provide the same cost per TB as a spinning disk solution.
Coz talked about the Pure ethos and the three core principles that drive its innovation.
- Build simple
- Be easier to use
- Deliver a better customer experience
These three ensure Pure arrays can be consumed just as core utilities like electricity and water; it was great to hear this analogy as it's one I have been using for around 10 years now. You press the light switch, and the light comes on. Simple, yet the infrastructure behind that simple act is hugely complex. The other point is that simple-to-operate solutions lead to fewer mistakes, increased service uptime, and they free up valuable admin time.
Pure announced 24 new innovations within the portfolio during //Accelerate! I don’t have the space to cover them all, so I am going to discuss the Top 3.
A new software offering from Pure, which will replicate VMware VMs into a native AWS account; providing the ability to recover in the event of an unforeseen disaster. The solution will handle the translation of the VM from VMware to native EC2, allowing each workload to be powered on as a native AWS instance for rapid recovery. The great news is this is not tied to customers with a Pure Storage array; it will work in any environment.
Do you pay for power and rack space in the cloud?... No!
This is the next battleground that Pure wants to tackle for those building out a private cloud. The basic principle here is that Pure will pay you, the customer, a rate to cover the cost of the power and rack space your storage array consumes. Consumable as a rebate or as service credits (depending on how IT wants to realise the benefits), this is a great initiative that shows again that unwavering belief in its sustainable capabilities.
Data Migration guarantee
Love migrating data every 3-5 years as you refresh your storage? No? Thought not. Pure will now ensure that your last-ever migration will be onto a Pure array. Great for reducing operational overhead and possible service impacts.
Some of the other highlights:
Data Resilience Score
Proactive anomaly detections
Policy-driven adoption for updates
Monthly update as optional cadence
A key message that came from this section was the concept of making storage an appreciating asset instead of something that depreciates over time. Evergreen, continual feature enhancements, no data migrations etc., these features all build up to something that is adding more value over time.
IDC on stage talking about the trends and statistics that are driving the world of Hybrid Platforms.
Cloud is still front and centre for customers, but the manner of adoption is changing; moving from a cloud-first mindset to a workload-first approach. The message was about matching the application to the location that will add the most value for money. It’s great to hear IDC say as it matches my view of Right Workload | Right Platform and that cloud is not a location.
IDC stated that cloud is still projected for 26% CAGR, but organisations are now looking for value and spend optimisation with FinOps and GreenOps (sustainability) forming a large part of the decision process. The final message was that cloud is an operating model and not a location. (It’s almost like they have read my presentations!)
Cyber fraud is the No.1 source of crime in the UK, accounting for 47% of all crime (according to the IDC speaker). The takeaway was that organisations need to not just focus on the cloud projects, but look to modernise core infra to meet cloud-like aspirations and close the loop on vulnerabilities that can fuel that 47% number. In addition, there was a comment about sustainability and that cloud alone will not meet organisations’ sustainability goals - the entire IT estate needs to be in scope.
AI and Sustainability
The keynote closed out talking about AI and sustainability and the role of storage in each. You can see the view on sustainability in the next session and I am sure we have all heard about the important role data management and storage plays in AI.
The cool stat was that META a company that generally builds all its own tech, chose Pure to underpin its AI operations! After META tried to store an Exabyte of data, they released that concerns like DC-level power constraints are a thing. Pure came to the rescue with an Exabyte of storage!
The Reality of the All-Flash DC - Why it is Important Now, How it Impacts Sustainability
I had the pleasure of presenting in one of the Expert Breakout sessions. Twenty minutes is not a lot of time to capture the essence of a topic, especially one with such a succinct title. However, I’m happy to say it went down well with the packed room, and the conversations post-talk really show the importance that sustainability is taking in the decision process of today's IT leaders.
Here is a summary of the talk, look out below for the Podcast that also covers the points in more detail.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT NOW?
As we look back at the history of storage, we can see that spinning disk has dominated the market for 70 years, and only in the last couple of decades shown it does have limitations. If we consider that the first Pure array 12 years ago had a 5TB max array capacity, it is crazy to consider the latest array delivers 6PB in less space, with more performance and for less power consumption.
Couple this transition from spinning disk to flash with the changing application landscape, and we can see innovation in Flash technology has been, and will continue to be, critical. Modern workloads are demanding more and more from the underlying storage; not just in the metric of latency and IOPS but in capacity as well. We now have PB data sets that need the performance of All Flash, something that was reserved for only the top few TB of data in most organisations.
Without the innovations in Flash technology (think SLC to QLC, see this link for more info) we would be facing an exponential explosion in data that now also requires Flash-level performance, with just 10K spinning disk (or maybe only 7,200 RPM). This innovation in Flash technology gives us a true option to replace disk in the DC and meet all requirements of modern workloads, whilst maintaining the overall TCO of spinning disk!
One area (apart from TCO) that I think will also drive the next disk array refreshes to Flash is Sustainability:
HOW IT IMPACTS SUSTAINABILITY
The sustainability conversation has multiple dimensions, from carbon reporting and e-waste to corporate reputation and financial considerations. With storage having a considerable carbon footprint, it is only going to be ever ever-increasing concern, especially given the data explosion we are seeing at the moment.
Let's consider a few of these factors:
This is the simple one, but not to be overlooked in the total cost of ownership conversation. Less power consumption does not just mean fewer emissions, it also means lower power bills. These savings should not be overlooked.
Carbon Reporting and Supply Chain
Carbon reporting legislation is starting to take effect, while still fragmented globally it is clear governments will be imposing more and more sustainable practices or businesses. Moving to an all-flash DC will significantly reduce power consumption and therefore emissions that need to be reported under scope one. The element that should not be overlooked is the position in the overall supply chain that smaller organisations reside in. If you supply goods to the larger organisation, you will likely fall within their scope 3 reporting; meaning you could lose out on business if your impact is too large! Don’t miss this.
It is one thing to pick a technology that uses less power during its operating life, but if that same technology has a large manufacturing carbon footprint and ends up as e-waste 4 years later then its overall impact will be huge. Consider the cyclic economy of the IT assets you are purchasing, lfor example, Pure arrays that have a low production footprint. These same arrays also live many lives under the Pure Evergreen program. Once you, the first owner, have replaced the controllers, they get a second life in the Pure aaS platforms and then a further third life in the Pure LABS. All this ensures you are making sustainable choices in your private cloud.
Corporate Reputation and its Impact on Talent
Finally let's not forget that new generation of workers; the ones that don’t just look at Job Title and Salary when making decisions. This new generation of talent is assessing your company in much more detail and one area that will be looking at closely is how you are treating this planet we all occupy. Can you afford to risk missing out on the next generation of top talent? Also, consider that if you supply directly to end consumers, talent will be looking at you in the same way as they choose the brands they want to be associated with.
This only scratches the surface of the sustainability conversation, which is one I love to dig into with customers. Please do reach out if you would like to fully understand how the IT function impacts your organisation's sustainability initiatives.
Podcasts and Videos
A couple of weeks before Accelerate I had the pleasure of sitting down with Patrick Smith, Field CTO for Pure, to talk through all things flash storage, sustainability and ransomware recovery. If you would like to hear a more in-depth discussion, please keep an eye out for the launch of the new CDW ‘Office of the CTO’ Podcast.
Also at Accelerate, I had the chance to record some market thought leadership content with the excellent film crew Pure had on site. Look out for this over the coming weeks on both the CDW and Pure socials. On a slightly lower budget, I caught up with Savas Nicolaides; a Lead Principal Technologist at Pure Storage to discuss some of the big announcements from the day.
Keep an eye out for a video of that discussion coming soon!
At the end of the day, we had Pure deliver its first UK Partner awards session. The fantastic news is CDW we won Elite Partner of the Year! A fantastic achievement for the entire team and a credit to our ability to deliver the end-to-end journey with Pure Storage.
Pure//Accelerate Event Summary
If you have a storage refresh project in the next 12-18 months, please do put Pure Storage on your shortlist; it has to be experienced to be understood fully! Regardless of your requirements, performance, TCO, operational simplicity, workload or cloud integration, the portfolio has the answer.