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Pure Storage hears footsteps, offers money-back guarantee

With large established vendors planning to launch all-flash storage arrays, startup Pure Storage is offering a money-back guarantee to customers who want to try their systems now.

Pure calls the promotion “Love your storage” and is telling customers they can return their FlashArray for a full refund within 30 days if they’re not happy for any reason.

Matt Kixmoeller, Pure’s VP of product management, said Pure’s guarantee is different than other vendors who offer guarantees if certain performance conditions are not meant. He said Pure will cancel the sale unconditionally, as long as the array isn’t damaged.

“If a customer doesn’t love Pure Storage, we don’t deserve to have their money,” he said. “We don’t define love, we let the customer define love. If they’re not happy for any reason, all they have to do is raise their hands and we will return their money.”

Pure and a few other startups such as Nimbus Data, Violin Memory, Whiptail and Kaminario have had the all-flash array market to themselves for the past year or so. But that is changing. IBM already has Texas Memory Systems, EMC is preparing to make its XtremIO arrays generally available in a few months and NetApp has pre-announced its FlashRay that won’t go GA until 2014. Also, Hitachi Data Systems is working on an all-flash array and Hewlett-Packard is making its 3PAR StoreServ arrays available with all flash.

But it was likely the recent announcements that NetApp and EMC made that spurred Pure to its money-back offer. NetApp and EMC wanted to make it clear they will enter the market, which could prompt some of Pure’s would-be customers to wait.

“The reason they did pre-announcements was they want to freeze the market, but customers are smarter than that,” Kixmoeller said. “We suggest customers get one of ours and they try it out.”

Besides fending off vendors that don’t have their products out yet, Pure and the other startups find their potential customers wondering about their long-term fate. The all-flash startups are well funded, but a lot of people in the industry are waiting for the next acquisition. Hybrid flash startup Starboard Storage has publicly admitted it is for sale, as Texas Memory did before IBM acquired it. But Pure execs say they are committed to staying independent.

CEO Scott Dietzen hears so many acquisition questions that he wrote a blog this week claiming he refused to even discuss deals with large companies who have approached him, and has no intention of selling.

“As more companies get acquired, we get more customers asking what our long-term future is,” Kixmoeller said. “We’re committed to growing our company.”

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