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The Customer Experience Is The Key To Success In Today’s Array-Based Storage Environment

The Customer Experience Is The Key To Success In Today’s Array-Based Storage Environment

The storage market is full of all kinds of different storage vendors, each with a unique story to tell and each absolutely convinced that their way is the “right way”.  As flash-based storage has hit the market by storm, there are a number of all-flash vendors out there that have developed solutions intended to help customers once and for all eliminate spinning disk from their organizations.

To hear all-flash storage vendors tell their story, one would think that disk should be completely eliminated from the data center.  In fact, as I write this post, I’m watching Pure Storage run through all of the reasons that all-flash arrays should be the only storage in the data center.  The company boasts a number of reasons that this should be the case:

  • Fewer personnel needed to manage the storage
  • No worries about ongoing storage performance
  • Deduplication and compression ratios that bring down the overall cost of solid state storage as compared to spinning disks

You know what?  None of this matters.  That’s right.  Every vendor says the same things and they all truly believe it.  And, in general, they’re all right and it’s simply not possible to truly differentiate between many of the vendors based on what really just amounts to marketing hype.  It’s so easy to peel back the layers of each of these statements and tear them down that it’s not even funny.

EnterpriseStorageGuide.com’s Scott D. Lowe and Pure Storage Evangelist Vaughn Stewart and PMM of Virtualization Joel McKelvey examine the use cases for all-flash arrays and hybrid flash/disk arrays.

Hold On!

Now, before you think I’m going off on all-flash vendors, hold on.  I actually believe that many of these vendors are enjoying success not just because they actually do create good products – they all have their pros and they all have their cons, but, in general, they’re all good.  But, just having a good product isn’t enough anymore.  I think that part of traditional storage frustration has been the overall customer experience.

This is from where I think some of the success of many of today’s newer companies stems.  Since I’m sitting here in their offices, let’s talk about what Pure Storage brings to the customer experience.  In the interest of full disclosure, I really like Pure Storage, so I’m inclined to be kind, even if I do ask them some pointed questions about the actual customer need for all-flash storage arrays.

Pure is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to the customer experience, though.

Excellent Support

You want people that actually care about support?  Newer vendors are making excellent support a part of their DNA and Pure is no exception.  In fact, during our presentation at Pure, one of their engineers indicated that they don’t believe that customers are at fault when an array fails, even if that customer pulled the wrong cable.  They believe that their product should be as proactive as possible in these instances and warn customers when something bad is about to take place, whenever possible.

No A La Carte Software Licensing

Like many newer storage companies, Pure Storage throws in the kitchen sink when it comes to buying their product.  Unlike legacy storage purchases, Pure doesn’t ask their customers to compromise when it comes to product capabilities.  With legacy vendors, CIOs had to make difficult decisions on a feature-by-feature basis.  With newer storage vendors, this has changed drastically since all features are simply included in the base price.

No Professional Services Needed

Newer storage systems – Pure included – are passionate about simplicity, and so are CIOs.  CIOs don’t want to have teams and teams of resource-specific people on staff just to manage storage.  Instead, they want people that can add value to the business.  With the focus on simplicity in newer storage systems, professional services are generally not needed and customers can quickly and easily rack and deploy a Pure Storage array on their own.  This saves cost and this saves time.

All Inclusive Warranty

For this section, I’m going to let Pure speak for itself.  Here’s how their 30-day satisfaction guarantee works:

  • Game-changing performance (100% MLC flash, <1ms latency): Guaranteed.
  • Inline dedupe & compression (Less cost than disk or tiering): Guaranteed.
  • Enterprise reliability (Full high availability, 5+ year lifespan): Guaranteed.
  • Designed for simplicity (Free your team to accomplish more): Guaranteed.

Steps:

  1. Try Pure Storage in your environment for 30 days at no risk
  2. If you are not completely satisfied, let us know
  3. We will work diligently to makeyou happy, up to and potentially:
  • Providing additional storage if promised data reduction is not met
  • Providing free assistance to optimize environment
  • Resolving any support issues experienced

If you are not happy, return the FlashArray for a full refund.

I’m not sure how I can add more to that.

Forever Flash

How many of you have been forced to make a painful choice in storage just because your vendor arbitrarily decided to “end of life” a product that was working just fine?  This planned obsolescence has happened to all of us at one point or another and it’s both frustrating and expensive.  Once this artificial end of life data hits, maintenance costs skyrocket – if you can even get maintenance – or you have to turn to less reliable third parties for maintenance or you simply have to replace the storage array.

None of these are generally palatable when everything is still working fine.

This is an area that Pure is attacking head on with their Forever Flash program.  First, Pure Storage provides new controllers for free every three years as long as you renew maintenance.  At the same time, as you replace your controllers, your maintenance becomes equal to then-current first year maintenance costs rather than constantly increasing because you’re in the “out years” on your array.

CIOs should absolutely consider this program in their ROI and cost projections when considering new storage systems.  The ability to keep a fully supported array beyond the traditional 3 to 5 year lifecycle is an incredible value.  Don’t forget: A maintenance agreement includes media replacement, so if you’re worried about your individual disks going bad, don’t!

EnterpriseStorageGuide.com’s David Davis interviews Pure Storage Evangelist Vaughn Stewart about the big changes happening in the storage market that makes all-flash a feasible proposition.

Summary

Yes, I realize that cost and performance are incredibly important and that there are massive technical differences between the various products that are on the market today.  However, I believe that a huge part of the success that is being enjoyed by companies like Pure Storage comes from a renewed focus on the overall customer experience and by identifying and eliminating as many of those pain points as possible in an effort to streamline the buying and maintenance decision.

For more information, visit the Pure Storage homepage

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