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Pure Storage: We do flash better than those geezers

When it comes to all-flash storage, Pure Storage claims experience is no match for youth.

Pure, born in 2011 as a flash-only vendor, is far outgrowing the storage establishment, a collection of vendors that Pure CEO Scott Dietzen calls “the 20-year-olds.”

The toddler Pure Thursday night reported $163 million in revenue for last quarter, a 93% increase over last year and above the high end of its forecast. Pure forecasted revenue of between $187 million and $195 million for this quarter. That would be 45% year-over-year growth if it comes in at the midpoint of the guidance.

Dietzen said his vendor is outgrowing the market by a long shot because it built its systems for flash from the start.

“Putting SSDs into storage designed more than 20 years ago simply cannot deliver on the demands of modern IT,” Dietzen said on Pure Storage’s earnings call.

Dietzen said Pure’s FlashArray is replacing “complex, services-intensive storage, designed for mainframes or client-server” systems. He called FlashArray smart storage, “that offers the simplicity, automation, resiliency and customer-friendly business model essential for cloud IT. Smart Storage allows customers to keep more data for far less costs, protected with strong security and delivers the bandwidth necessary to mine that data for new analytic insights or even machine learning.”

Dietzen’s critique of the competitors ignores that EMC XtremIO – the all-flash market leader – and IBM FlashSystem were acquired from companies who designed them from the ground up for flash. EMC and IBM also have modified their older storage platforms to work with flash, as have NetApp and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Those four vendors and Pure share the leaders quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for all-flash arrays released this week.

Pure Storage certainly has the results to back up Dietzen’s claims. As he pointed out, Pure nearly doubled its revenues year-over-year last quarter “at a time when many of our competitors are shrinking.”

He expects the growth to accelerate when Pure Storage’s FlashBlade object and file storage system hits the market. FlashBlade is in limited availability, and while some early beta testers have purchased the array, it will not likely generate significant sales before 2017. But in combination with the SAN-based FlashArray, Dietzen predicted FlashBlade will make Pure a storage powerhouse.

The young company is still going through growing pains, however, particularly on its bottom line. For all of its sales success, Pure loses tens of millions of dollars every quarter. It dropped $63.8 million last quarter as it increased sales and marketing spending to fuel its growth. That was an improvement over the $59.6 million loss from the same quarter last year, and Pure executives predict they will be “cash flow positive” by the second half of 2017. Pure finished last quarter with $570 million in cash and investments.

“With FlashBlade ramping and exciting FlashArray innovations yet to come, we are only getting started,” Dietzen said.