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Big news out of Cupertino yesterday, in addition to announcing some new products and hardware updates, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced a new way to buy, or more accurately subscribe to iPhone hardware via the iPhone Upgrade Program.
The iPhone Upgrade Program allows customers to subscribe at a predictable and flat fee, and receive a hardware upgrade to their iPhone experience annually. Sound familiar? It should, because it is bringing the same sort of “subscription to innovation” experience to the smart phone industry that Pure introduced to enterprise data storage with Evergreen Storage.
And similar to Evergreen Storage, Apple’s ongoing ability to continuously evolve the consumer experience via hardware and software upgrades without disruption is enabled by the combination of a seamlessly-engineered hardware and software plus the power of the cloud. In fact, this isn’t the first time the growing consumer/enterprise cross-over has been noticed. And the similarities don’t stop there:
The result: a customer experience that allows for constant ongoing innovation vs. being stuck on old hardware, enabling subscription-like business models such as the iPhone Upgrade Program and Pure’s Evergreen Storage.
In addition to Apple’s big news, NetApp has quietly started offering customers a promotion similar to Pure’s Evergreen Storage. With the introduction of the NetApp All Flash FAS Promotion, NetApp is dipping it’s toe in the subscription pool too, at least temporarily as the promotion expires December 31st, 2015. The promotion allows customers to receive a free controller upgrade to new AFF systems in three years when renewing maintenance for three more years.
As we have said previously, the industry-wide pivot to fundamentally better, more customer-friendly business models like Pure’s Evergreen Storage is the new normal in the storage industry, and it is great to see NetApp joining in. If you’d like to learn more about storage industry business model evolution, read Eric Burgener from IDC’s opinion paper on Evergreen Storage.
But – there’s some important differences between NetApp’s promotion and Evergreen Storage:
Despite the marked differences, it is encouraging to see NetApp take a positive first step, and hopefully it is just the first step towards fully-introducing an ongoing, customer-friendly business model that rivals Pure’s Evergreen Storage. We remain confident that other big storage vendors will inevitably have to follow-suit and ultimately believe it is the right thing for customers.
Pure’s doing it. Apple’s doing it. Now maybe even NetApp’s going to do it. If your storage vendor isn’t offering a subscription to ongoing, non-disruptive storage innovation like Evergreen Storage, it’s time to ask why. Perhaps their products don’t support it. Perhaps their business models are built around an addiction to 3-year forklift upgrade cycles. It’s time to push for change, and the choices you make with your storage budget have the opportunity to create incredible change in the storage industry!