All-flash storage array provider Pure Storage Inc. today launched its Forever Flash program, which provides free controller upgrades when renewing maintenance and support contracts and allows organizations to reset contracts when upgrading or expanding hardware.
Matt Kixmoeller, Pure Storage's vice president of products, said the Forever Flash program is designed to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) for the Pure Storage FlashArray by addressing two storage-industry practices that can significantly increase the operating and capital expenses associated with storage arrays. One is the out-year maintenance bill that customers get hit with when their initial maintenance contract expires. The other is the time and expense of forklift upgrades.
Mark Peters, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said both practices are "accepted practices because we don't have a better way around them."
Peters said that it's a common practice among array vendors to significantly raise prices for maintenance and support contract renewals to get users to purchase new arrays rather than simply renew support contracts.
The Pure Storage program consists of two elements. The "free every three" component provides organizations free controller upgrades every three years when they renew their maintenance and support contracts. Kixmoeller said that this component is intended to relieve capital expense constraints for organizations that use arrays as long as possible, a common practice in markets such as education and government.
The "fresh every upgrade" component enables Pure customers to reset their maintenance and support contracts back to current first-year prices whenever they upgrade or expand their FlashArrays.
"It's ultimately fair to charge [users] the prevailing market rate for maintenance," Kixmoeller said. "We're basically willing to treat that array as brand new and allow you to buy a new maintenance agreement at the prevailing market rates."
Kixmoeller said that "free every upgrade" will also enable organizations to take advantage of the continued decline of flash-storage prices. "Forever Flash, ultimately, is a new business model," he added.
Pure executives hope this new model will help them succeed in what has become one of the hottest and most crowded storage categories. All the major storage vendors -- EMC, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp and Dell -- sell all-flash arrays, as do all-flash pioneers such as Pure, Nimbus Data, Violin Memory, Kaminario, Skyera and SolidFire.
Forever Flash follows Pure Storage's Love Your Storage campaign from last March, which allowed customers to return new arrays for a refund within 30 days if they were not happy.
Peters said the Forever Flash program could have an industry impact due to its effect on TCO, which he said is the No. 1 buying consideration for storage arrays. "People still need to look at their workloads and what they are trying to get done before they make a choice," he said.
Both components of the Forever Flash program are available today through Pure Storage.