In the storage industry today, everyone is talking about delivering a service. I’ve previously written about subscriptions vs. as-a-service models.1 In short:
- Subscriptions start with financial discussions (CAPEX vs. OPEX).
- As-a-service starts with monitoring, SLOs, and SLAs: You can’t deliver a service without monitoring and being held to a promised outcome.
With Pure-as-a-Service™, we monitor the storage service tier to which you’ve subscribed. If we don’t meet the performance or capacity obligations, we proactively ship more storage arrays and set them up at no cost to you. This is because Pure Storage® is committing to a performance and capacity obligation. We’re clear about our obligation in our product guide.
Pure’s Capacity Management Guarantee
“Asset management, capacity management, shipping logistics and lifecycle management including non-disruptive capacity upgrades and any required service infrastructure refresh.”
When you subscribe to a given storage capacity, Pure installs and continuously maintains an additional 20% capacity at your site for on-demand usage so it is always available. And because we are continuously monitoring the usage, we ship and set up the additional capacity before you need it, allowing you to simply consume and not worry about capacity management. All service infrastructure expansions and adds are at no separate cost to you and don’t impact the unit pricing as well as co-terminate with the original service term.
Pure’s Performance Service Level
“Monthly consumption reporting and regular service performance reviews across locations, along with recurring billing and supporting details to facilitate internal chargeback.”
If there are any issues with the fulfillment of our performance or capacity obligations, you can trust Pure to resolve this with our best-in-class NPS score of 83+ and our Evergreen™ and Evergreen architecture. Evergreen underpins our ability to meet the performance and capacity obligations, non-disruptively, as outlined in this Uptime term:
“Evergreen non-disruptive service infrastructure upgrades throughout the Service Term”
We provide the ability to schedule these upgrades through Pure1 at a time convenient to you. We also offer a zero planned downtime commit and a 99.99% uptime commitas we don’t require a “planned maintenance” window; the Evergreen architecture doesn’t exhibit performance degradation or an outage during software or hardware upgrades. That’s outlined in our terms as:
“Pure as-a-Service is delivered with zero Planned Downtime and therefore End User may be entitled to a Downtime Credit equal to 100% of the monthly charges on any System that experiences Planned Downtime.”
“A Reserve Commitment may be increased, if requested by End User, at any time during the Service Term.”
SLA Measurement and Transparency
You should be able to measure and see the SLAs that a service offers. Pure1® provides full transparency and visibility into actual PaaS performance. Pure uses this internally to measure and deliver our service, but you also have full transparency—in the product itself—to view how we are delivering on the commitment.
Other-STaaS (a.k.a. Broken Subscription on Demand)
The Other STorage-as-a-Service offerings in the market—which I’ll refer to as Other-STaaS—generally are trying to deliver OPEX billing. But they fall short of a true as-a-service experience: They only give the illusion of trying to be a service with no real teeth or obligation. Many times, they’re just dressed up leases. And it’s the exact opposite to which enterprise customers are accustomed and what they expect to receive.
One Other-STaaS provider actually published this statement:
“For the avoidance of doubt, Service Provider shall only be required to use commercially reasonable efforts to satisfy any SLOs. There will be no credits available for failure to achieve an SLO.”2
So from our perspective it’s clear that there is no real penalty for failing to meet performance or capacity SLOs. Despite the document detailing levels and objectives at length, there’s really no skin in the game, nor an SLA agreement.
In that same document, that Other-STaaS provider published its view on capacity management:
“While Customer is receiving the Service, Service Provider will make all commercially reasonable efforts to maintain a monthly average of 25% OnDemand Capacity as measured by (Base Capacity *.25.) Provider will notify Customer when OnDemand Capacity requires expansion in order to agree upon required expansion activities”.
So, it sounds like they will notify you when you need to buy or order more in an expansion order vs. just shipping you what they are obligated to like a true as-a-service business.
The same vendor even states:
“Change and Maintenance Window” means coordinated downtime for Service Provider to perform any technical changes or maintenance to the equipment or Services (i.e. patches, upgrades, refresh, third party vendor updates, etc.). Service Provider will use commercially reasonable efforts to notify Customer with advance prior notice of planned Change and Maintenance Windows. Service Provider reserves the right to change the Change and Maintenance Windows period with advance prior notice to Customer; provided, however, Service Provider will make every effort to schedule maintenance, systems repairs, and systems upgrades during low utilization periods (typically nights, weekends and holiday periods) of the Services”.
Based on that, it appears that, for this vendor, a customer’s uptime is exclusive of planned downtime, which is exactly what the “legacy” moniker denotes. Contrast this to a seamless Evergreen “no-disruption” experience via Pure as-a-Service.
Another Other-STaaS provider published that to “Identify capacity changes required to meet Customer capacity demands”3 is something for which you, the customer, is responsible and accountable. I’m not even sure an auditor would say that this qualifies as a “service” or that it could be treated as OPEX if you’re left responsible for everything. Exactly how is this a service without a real obligation to the customer? Moreover, this same vendor doesn’t say anything about performance obligations.
This same vendor published a data sheet4 that says it “will replenish buffer capacity as the Customer consumes additional existing buffer resources subject to the change management process outlined in the SOW or the Account Support Plan.” This sounds like a purchasing event that’s non co-terminus and really not an obligation or a service.
From our perspective, it looks like the customer is servicing the Other-STaaS vendor, not the other way around!
What about the New Announcements?
In contrast, Pure takes customer service, ease of management, and SLAs very seriously. Pure-as-a-Service released a Service Catalog for subscription-management integrated into Pure1 last year. Now, there’s been new announcements from Other-STaaS providers for On-Demand Cloud Consoles as well as new tools, some of which are fee-based, that aim to do some sort of subscription management or storage management.
In contrast, Pure1 provides end-to-end monitoring and subscription in our true public cloud SaaS real-estate and utilizes fleet intelligence to help customers choose service tiers and place workloads. What is clear is these Other STaaS providers are integrating with other SaaS or monitoring options in their portfolios in a way that the experience becomes fragmented for different activities. And even if you like the new console, you’re still putting “lipstick on the pig” as the underlying offerings aren’t delivered as true “storage as a service” as I outlined above.
We Ship vs. You Ask (And Have to Pay For)
Let’s net this out. Via Pure-as-a-Service, we ship the hardware necessary to keep you whole on the performance and capacity obligations. For this, customers trust Pure: This is what we signed up for as a true service-oriented vendor, and given our NPS, you too can trust Pure to deliver. It looks like the other vendors just want to market the as-a-service experience, but don’t have the actual contractual terms and conditions to back up their services.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Hear from the momentum we have with our deployed customers. And if you want to monitor your obligations, you can use Pure1 as opposed to “yet another set of new tools.”
I know that if you’re a big customer, some of these vendors tell you that if you sign up for a big deal, they’ll give you what Pure gives you. I’ve heard that before. And how do you think they deliver or keep track of their obligations? It’s probably handled by a project manager with some professional services. Remember the managed outsourcing industry? If our competitors don’t engineer their solutions to be true services, they can’t make it up in a sales contract. And as a customer, what experience will you get? A real service experience? Or an experience that depends on the quality of the managed service and how much you want to spend to manage the vendor relationship?
At Pure, we pioneered the approach to deliver an amazing support experience. We built Pure1 proactive/predictive support using technology, process, automation, and a small team of great people. The as-a-service experience is the same: you want to bet on the vendor investing in technology, process, and automation—not professional services band-aids and duct tape. It’s time to move to the Modern Data Experience™ from Pure.
At Pure, we spent our first decade re-imaging the enterprise storage experience with flash, cloud management, simplicity, and continuous, non-disruptive Evergreen upgradability. In doing so, we became the bar by which the industry measured a world-class infrastructure experience. We’re now raising this bar further by pioneering a modern, cloud-like storage-as-a-service experience. And we look forward to watching the industry try to follow in our footsteps—again.