From spinning disks to flash, world’s largest steel company says Pure Storage’s Evergreen program is the real deal

AUSTIN — Not unlike other manufacturing industries, the steel industry is rapidly sinking its teeth into new technologies to gain competitive advantages. The demand for more sustainable construction materials has forced the steel industry to prove itself against alternatives such as concrete and timber.

Data is at the heart of this race, and while the technologies deployed in the field are as modern as they come, the devices collecting and storing that data are often not. Paul Valvasori, Citrix service manager and team lead of storage and backup for the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittel, knows this all too well.

“If you’ve lived through legacy storage offerings when you had to prepare for these big forklift upgrades, you’d know it’s such an onerous task in terms of the amount of time and effort that you had to expend to repurchase and replace outdated hardware,” he told Channel Daily News.

But Pure Storage’s subscription-based data storage upgrade program Evergreen changed that four years ago when Valvasori, who leads an IT team in Canada, decided to ditch their spinning disks (hard disk storage) in favour of an all-flash array.

“It’s a refreshing model for the storage market,” said Valvasori.

Launched in 2015, the replacement cycle model was designed to make storage costs and upgrades more predictable without rip and replace moves. In ArcerlorMittel’s case, it began with an m20 flash array which a couple years later was upgraded to an x20. The x20 is an entry-level NVMe-ready array for smaller capacity and remote office needs. It also features controllers fully-capable of supporting NVMe DirectFlash modules out-of-the-box. In a nutshell, more power, more storage, and an easy upgrade path to the latest flash arrays. It was the easiest upgrade he’d ever done, said Valvasori.

“I think that’s the way it should be,” he said.

This week Pure announced that its entire product catalog can be purchased through its Evergreen subscription program.

Andy Martin, Pure Storage’s vice-president of Americas channels, with Brent Allen, country manager for Canada. Photo by Alex Coop.

While Pure’s competitors argue that the Evergreen program is a marketing ploy with significant shortcomings for the customer, Andy Martin, Pure’s vice-president of Americas channels, said the all-flash vendor’s track record speaks for itself. To date, approximately 2,500 Evergreen controller upgrades have occurred since the program’s inception.

“The real threat for our competitors is Evergreen,” Martin told IT World Canada.

Pure partner Softchoice, which earned the vendor’s top Canadian Partner of the Year award during the Global Partner Forum at Accelerate, said the Evergreen model has been an increasingly compelling option for customers looking for ways to better predict storage costs.

“Evergreen is definitely a unique advantage. Pure has this as a part of their DNA and as more and more customers look for a utility model for IT, this aligns well to make storage a predictable cost,” Matthew Sirbu, Softchoice’s director of business development, data centre and storage, wrote in an email.

While most Canadian customers are still using legacy storage products for mission-critical workloads, Sirbu said they’re beginning to see increased adoption of FlashBlade as “customers are finding new use cases for flash storage.”

For years, HHDs benefited over flash storage due lower costs. HDDs were much more budget-friendly when it came to higher capacity needs. But as flash matured, so did the prices, and since flash tends to use less power than HDDs, it often means a lower electric bill as well.

Valvasori said for years, the bar has been set very low when it came to storage innovations, and it doesn’t surprise him that legacy vendors are  trying to dismiss Pure’s products and services.

“I think in some cases, they were gouging customers for years,” he said.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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