Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/30/pure_storage_chasing_flash_array_glory/

Pure Storage hoovers up $150m in funding, hires ex-Data Domain CEO

Firm sets sights on becoming Data Domain of flash arrays

By Chris Mellor

Posted in Storage, 30th August 2013 08:28 GMT

Flash array upstart Pure Storage aims to emerge from the herd and pull off a Data Domain, having secured $150m in E-round funding and hired former Data Domain head honcho Frank Slootman, who joins its board as "a key strategic advisor."

Pure says the $150m is "the single largest private funding in the history of the enterprise storage industry." It takes its total funding to $245m and puts it on track, it says, for an IPO.

The cash will be used to accelerate European and Asian operations, grow sales, support and marketing teams globally, and increase research and development efforts.

One problem Pure will be aware of is the risk of diluting its startup culture with a huge infusion of new personnel. No doubt there will be new employee introduction courses to purify them.

It's clear that Pure wants to outpace the pack of all-flash array vendors and reprise Data Domain's experience of becoming the dominant supplier in its area of storage; deduping backup to disk arrays, in Data Domain's case. Getting some Slootman magic on board is indicative of that, Slootman being the CEO who took Data Domain to glory with the EMC buyout.

Can Pure do it? It has two groups of competitors; the mainstream array suppliers and the all-flash array startups. What challenges does it face, with its flash-aware software and SSD-based flash hardware, from its competitors as it tries to outpace them? Firstly from the mainstream vendors:

EMC is making a lot of noise about its soon-to-be-released XtremIO box, and HDS looks to be developing into a strong competitor. NetApp is an unknown quantity, while HP rejected the new all-flash array option with its all-flash 3PAR 7450 saying its ASIC and software would use flash storage well. We're basically waiting to see how the mainstream vendors' all-flash array boxes will perform. Apart from Oracle, they're all in catch-up mode, and even Oracle doesn't really sell stand-alone flash arrays – for which everyone else is quite thankful.

Secondly, how about the all-flash array startups?

The strongest competitors here look to be Nimbus, Violin and Whiptail. Pure could outspend Nimbus by orders of magnitude and develop its software faster than Violin; ditto Whiptail whom El Reg's storage desk thinks it could outspend too. But Skyera looks to have a technology advantage and Solidfire a market niche focus lead.

The thing with Pure is that it is now so well funded that it can develop its product hardware and software, its channel infrastructure, and its sales, marketing and support operations collectively faster than other all-flash array startup supplier could develop any one of these functions. It may even be able to outspend the mainstream vendors' own all-flash array efforts.

This funding round has substantially raised the stakes for these startups and their backers, who may have to think about increasing their own financial firepower. In the all-flash array poker game Pure Storage just lifted the stakes to a new level. So, competitors - double or quits? ®