Introducing the New Forever Flash: The Best Business Model in Storage Gets Even Better (Part 1)

In early 2014, Pure Storage pioneered a new approach to storage acquisitions, maintenance and service (M&S): Forever Flash.  We created Forever Flash because we wanted to help customers get off of the expensive and disruptive 3-year tech refresh and forklift migration cycle – and instead to love their storage. Over the past 9 months, Forever Flash has sparked massive, positive change in the storage industry and customers are benefiting. EMC announced a 7-year flash replacement and 7-year flat maintenance guarantee under their XpectMore program (but only for XtremIO arrays). And HP announced a 5-year warranty for SSD wear replacement. We applaud both companies for taking steps to improve the customer experience; however, we believe much more can and should be done.

Today, Pure is improving and expanding Forever Flash to make it even more simple and revolutionary, and is challenging our Big Storage competitors to do the same. In this post I’ll outline our vision for storage ownership, how we’ve evolved Forever Flash to get us closer to that vision, and also illustrate how we now compare to some of our Big Storage competitors.

Perpetual Storage: Buy it Once, Maintain it Forever

Simply put, our vision for storage is that it should be perpetual. That is, you buy it, deploy it, and maintain it for as long as you want – literally forever if you like. And when we say “maintain”, we mean “keep up to date and fully productive” and not just “keep running”. What would this mean in practice? Imagine…

…storage that gets faster and more capable with age.
…never having to repurchase your existing capacity.
…never having to purchase software as you expand.
…never having to forklift upgrade & migrate your data.

Our belief is that if you could buy storage like this, and as long as the price was reasonable, you would never buy any other kind. Heck, I’d buy this kind of storage for myself at home if I could! It candidly sounds too good to be true. But incredibly, as of today, it is true.

Evolution Becomes Revolution

To understand where we are today with Forever Flash, it is instructive to see how we’ve evolved it in response to the status quo, adversarial Big Storage business practices.

Customers who own Big Storage typically experience significant increases in maintenance and support on their storage, on a per TB basis, at the 4 year mark and beyond. Ironically the storage itself is aging and often decreasing in performance at the same time M&S is increasing. Customers are then faced with a lousy choice. Either (a) keep paying the increasing maintenance costs for storage that is getting less useful, or (b) pay all over again for brand new storage and suffer a risky (downtime, anyone?), time consuming, and expensive migration of all of the existing data.

Customers universally hate this “business as usual” approach – but what was the alternative? In February of this year, we introduced a better model: Forever Flash.

 

 

Forever Flash initially gave customers a choice between two revolutionary alternatives: Free controllers (with increasing maintenance) to keep their storage current with modern performance and features, OR flat ongoing maintenance with regular capacity and/or controller upgrades.

However, customers couldn’t take advantage of both benefits at the same time. It was either/or – and it turns out no one wanted to have to choose. And now they don’t!

 

 

The new Forever Flash, available today, gives customers permanently flat (or better) maintenance and support pricing AND free controllers every three years, regardless how they use their FlashArray. Customers now get the best of both worlds – access to up-to-date arrays and current pricing, with no maintenance extortion, forklift upgrades or migrations – ever!

And we didn’t stop there – our maintenance coverage proactively protects all hardware and software on the array with replacement parts and support as needed (including coverage for wearing SSDs) – for as long as a customer remains on maintenance and support.  Sound good so far?  Read on for more details.

 

The New Forever Flash Realizes our Vision for Perpetual Storage

The changes we are introducing in the new Forever Flash really do create a perpetual storage lifecycle – the first ever in the industry – and here’s what it looks like:

In words – it really does go on forever! There are three pillars in the program: Flat & Fair; Free Every Three; and Forever Maintenance.

Flat & Fair:

Flat & Fair keeps maintenance and support pricing predictably flat (or better!) over the long term. By Flat, we mean that customers will never be charged increased out-year maintenance rates compared to their original maintenance and support contract. By Fair, we mean that they will also typically realize a reduction in per-TB maintenance rates over time given the downward trajectory of flash and other hardware component prices. In addition, our controllers always have all-software included, so customers never have to purchase additional software as they expand their array over time.

 

Free Every Three:

Free Every Three allows customers to receive a free controller upgrade every three years they own the FlashArray – forever! All they need to do is purchase a 3-year maintenance and support renewal every three years and they will receive free controllers at the beginning of year 4, year 7, year 10 and so on. Even if customers purchase controllers on their own to accommodate fast growing storage needs, say in year 2, they will still be eligible for their free controllers.

Free Every Three is also always Flat and Fair – so there is no increase in maintenance and support associated with these free controllers. As a result any storage from Pure Storage actually gets faster and more capable with age, adding new features, more performance, and even adding greater scalability. And because our storage is built from the ground up for non-disruptive expansion, customers will never have to forklift upgrade or migrate their data to take advantage of these new controllers.

 

Forever Maintenance:

Forever Maintenance replaces any problematic hardware and software as-needed with like or better parts with no restrictions on flash age or usage patterns – forever under active maintenance and support! Whether SSDs, cables, shelves, software – anything – we have you covered. What does this mean? Simply put, Forever Maintenance means customers never have to repurchase their existing capacity to keep their storage productive. And with CloudAssist monitoring our customers’ storage 24×7, we can often predict problems before they become serious and ultimately lead to failure. In these cases we will proactively work with customers to provide replacement of problematic parts. Forever Maintenance represents the ultimate in peace of mind and is yet another great reason to love your storage.

When we put these three pillars together, the result is perpetual storage – and customers love it:

We Challenge Big Storage to Follow The Golden Rule

I love the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. What could be simpler and more profound? This is the ethos we take here at Pure Storage and it has driven us to build a better storage company. The new Forever Flash is yet another example of this ethos put into practice and we are thrilled to announce it today. But beyond that we believe we have set a strong example that we sincerely hope the rest of the storage industry will follow. Perpetual Storage – it’s about time.

Want to learn how Forever Flash translates into financial benefits, as well as how our approach compares to the competition? Read Part 2!