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Pure Storage points flash at AWS cloud

Pure Storage’s earnings report painted a sunny picture of revenues at the same time as the flash pioneer unveiled a cloudy focus on its product direction.

Pure beat Wall Street expectations with a strong quarter, and used its earnings call Monday night to outline a new set of hybrid cloud services.

First, the earnings. Pure’s revenue last quarter grew 34% to $373 million. Product revenue of $299 million increased 31% year-over-year. Pure also gave a higher forecast than expected, guiding revenue for this quarter of between $348 million and $446 million. It raised its full-year revenue forecast to between $1.376 billion and $1.384 billion for a midpoint of $1.38 billion, up $15 million from its previous guidance.

Pure still hasn’t turned the corner on profitability, losing $28.2 million in the quarter – a slight improvement over the $29.4 million it lost a year ago. But it has more than $1 billion in cash and investments, and remains in growth mode. The vendor added around 200 employees last quarter, bringing its total to 2,650 employees.

Pure claims more than 300 new customers last quarter, running its total to more than 5,450 customers. Pure president Ken Hatfield said more than two-thirds of the shipments in the quarter included NVMe flash.

Matt Kixmoeller, Pure VP of product management, said the vendor is “on track to ship the final piece of the puzzle with NVMe over Fabrics this year.”

So Pure has a good grasp on the flash market, which is now the underpinning of primary storage. Now it will focus on cloud.

“Customers are increasingly voicing a clear demand for a hybrid cloud, but the reality today is that there is a cloud divide and nowhere is that more evident than at the storage layer,” Pure Storage CEO Charlie Giancarlo said. “On-prem and cloud data services vary widely, making it difficult to build applications that can be run everywhere and requiring that our customers make a technology choice between on-prem and the cloud. We believe it shouldn’t be that way.”

Pure used the earnings call to officially launch Cloud Data Services to run Pure storage on Amazon Web Services. The data services include Cloud Block Store, Cloud Snap and StorReduce.

Cloud Block Store is based on the vendor’s Purity operating system running natively in Amazon Web Services. CBS enables snapshots, replication and de-duplication of data created in web scale applications.

CloudSnap copies snapshots from Pure’s FlashArray into Amazon S3 for data backup and application migration. StorReduce software, which comes from Pure’s August $25 million acquisition of startup StoreReduce, dedupes data stored on Pure’s FlashBlade systems for unstructured data and sends it into AWS.

With customers already using FlashBlade as a backup target for fast backup and restores, Pure refers to StorReduce running on FlashBlade as “flash-to-flash-to cloud” data protection.

CloudSnap is generally available while CBS and StorReduce are in limited public beta. StorReduce is expected to be generally available in the first half of 2019 with CBS following later next year.

Pure is hardly the only storage vendor to embrace the cloud. NetApp for one has a similar strategy of enabling its on-premises storage features to also run in public clouds.

Giancarlo said Pure’s differentiator is, “this was purpose built for the cloud from Day One. In terms of the Cloud Block Storage, that’s our software running natively on AWS infrastructure. And then flash-to-flash-to-cloud, that’s a unique offering … low cost long-term storage plus rapid recovery …”

Pure executives said sales of the two-year-old FlashBlade platform were strong, especially with cloud providers. However, they did not break out FlashBlade revenue from FlashArray revenue. They did make it clear FlashBlade is a big piece of the Pure hybrid cloud strategy, particularly for backup and restore.

Giancarlo said cloud partner Amazon “was very excited for the ability to dedupe backup data directly onto a FlashBlade platform.”

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