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Pure Storage flash lineup could be billion-dollar baby

Pure Storage executives claim the flash pioneer is on pace for $1 billion in revenue for 2017, plus its first profitable quarter by the end of the year.

Neither goal is assured, but both seem possible following Pure’s first-quarter earnings report Wednesday. The vendor reported $183 million, up 31% from last year. It cut losses only slightly to $62 million compared to $64 million a year ago, but execs claim spending decreases in the second half of the year, along with revenue growth, should bring it past break-even for the first time.

Pure forecast revenue of $214 million to $222 million this quarter and from $975 million to $1.025 billion for the year. That annual prediction includes a second-half surge in revenue and Pure will have to hit the midpoint of its annual revenue to achieve the $1 billion goal.

CEO Scott Dietzen cited the $1 billion and profitability goals and gushed “all of that is setting up 2017 to be Pure’s best year yet,” on the earnings call Wednesday night.

Of course, there is still a lot of 2017 left. Dietzen said he is counting on Pure Storage flash products taking advantage of hot industry trends. He expects to cash in on the emergence of  Express (NVMe) solid-state drives (SSDs) with new Pure Storage FlashArray//X systems, continued growth of Pure Storage FlashBlade unstructured data storage, and the need for storage for the emerging private cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning markets.

Dietzen said FlashBlade, which became generally available at the start of 2017, is selling at twice the rate FlashArray did when it first launched nearly six years ago. “FlashBlade is transforming the unstructured data market in the same way FlashArray revolutionized structured data,” he said.

Pure Storage FlashArray//X is another key to Pure’s achieving its goals. While Pure currently trails Dell EMC, NetApp and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in all-flash revenue, the vendor is looking to pick up organizations that want the improved speed of NVMe over current SSDs. Neither Dell EMC, NetApp nor HPE have an all-NVMe system yet, although all major flash storage vendors will eventually add NVMe.

“We see a new set of use cases that NVMe opens up,” said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure’s vice president of products. “Certainly, faster database type workloads … but we’re also really going after consolidation of cloud providers. A lot of the cloud vendors out there have really consolidated on server DAS over the past few years, and now we have an opportunity to go in there with NVMe and take the flash out of each of those servers and consolidate it at the top of the rack to drive more efficiencies for them.”

Dietzen said Pure is looking to become the storage of choice for “roughly 80% of enterprise workloads not currently a candidate for the public cloud.” He said enterprises are turning to private cloud in great numbers.

“While we occasionally compete with the big three public clouds … our customers use Pure’s data platform in conjunction with the public cloud, particularly for datasets that are too large to move across the internet,” he said.

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