In early 2014, Pure Storage backed up its belief that flash storage was more than reliable enough for the enterprise by creating its “Forever Flash” program. The goal of the program was to end the longstanding practice of maintenance extortion which essentially forced customers to either upgrade, or face above market value maintenance pricing. This led companies like EMC and HP not to change their flash warranties (from data written to time used) and it also saw vendors introduce flash maintenance assurance programs. In their most recent announcement, Pure Storage further enhances their program.
Pure is improving and expanding the Forever Flash program so that the previously included free controller upgrade program is now available to all maintenance and (time and materials) service customers. They also are committed to providing flat maintenance pricing, or better, on all their systems forever. And they are promising to offer maintenance on all their systems forever.
About a year ago, Storage Switzerland predicted that All-Flash storage systems bought today could functionally last for ten or more years. Based on our research, they should be able to provide both the long term durability and long term performance that makes a ten year life span a reality. Compare this to the industry average of a storage system (3-5 years) and a compelling case could be made for an All-Flash purchase TODAY. The problem, as we pointed out in that article, was the vendor practice of overcharging for maintenance once the initial warranty of the storage system has expired.
While we would love to claim that our article motivated Pure’s Forever Flash strategy, it is clear that they have responded to the same market conditions that we saw. In fairness, “forever” may be a bit of a reach, however, Pure Storage is clearly communicating that they expect their customers to get a much longer useful life from their storage system compared to the lifecycle of a traditional storage array. And compared to forever, ten years doesn’t seem like that long of a time.
When we first made the 10 year All-Flash claim, we received some criticism from industry pundits, but we held fast to this conviction. It is clear that vendors like Pure Storage are seeing the same endurance results from customer flash usage that we are witnessing. But, more importantly, they are changing their business model to adapt to this reality. Programs like Forever Flash are not only good for Pure Storage, they are also good for the industry. The real winners will be data centers who end up with a storage solution that lasts ten years or more. There is probably no better way to drive down the storage total cost of ownership than to decrease the number of storage systems you need to upgrade over a ten year period of time.