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Pure Accelerate 2024: Implementing AI to Bolster Support Cyber Resilience

Pure Accelerate 2024 returns to Vegas this week for the second year. I had the opportunity to sit down with Pure’s Prakash Darji, from the Digital Experience Business Unit (DXBU) to discuss a wide range of topics regarding the Pure Storage Platform. During the course of our conversation, Prakash underscored the paramount significance of establishing a uniform operational environment within the platform, highlighting the necessity of a unified infrastructure and a singular operating system capable of accommodating diverse workloads. 

Watch the full interview: Exploring Pure Accelerate 2024 with Prakash Darji

Pure Accelerate 2024 and the Infusion of AI (of course!)

Not surprisingly, one of the highlights and most noteworthy facets of new capabilities announced at Pure Accelerate 2024 was news of the infusion of AI into the Pure platform. This includes leveraging community models such as GPT-4, which enables training on myriad parameters to facilitate more open-ended inquiries. Pure favors using AI for security assessment and operational guidance, wherein an AI copilot delivers personalized insights and recommendations. I believe this type of use case should resonate with end-users. It’s practical, easy to deploy, and provides instant gratification through operationally applicable results and measurable results.

In other words, Pure’s strategy aims to empower end users by building their AI infrastructure. Acknowledging the intricate nature and nascent stage of AI adoption, this approach guides users in identifying use cases and making well-informed decisions within the AI domain, cutting through the hype to focus on operational objectives. I see this as an opportunity to educate a market that really badly needs to know what use cases to focus on, and I believe that customers will find this very compelling.

Other news coming out of Pure Accelerate 2024 was the collaboration between Pure and NVIDIA to certify their products with Ethernet into their SuperPOD reference architecture. This is particularly significant as many customers have an Ethernet network.  

In addition, as the demand for large language models grows, Pure’s take is that data agent deployments are typically carried out using containers, which is the approach the company adopted when building its copilot capability. However, transitioning AI from high-performance computing to enterprise applications requires a different approach, especially in terms of security.

Surprise, surprise:  Pure is astutely introducing the concept of a secure application workspace based on the deployment of stable containers for the data agent using its Portworx technology. This setup can also create a secure multi-tenant in the storage array, providing a vertical slice down to securing the application. It is important to note that Pure is leveraging and existing technology investment and extending it to this expanded AI use case. Existing customers who already bought into the portfolio should see many benefits from this approach.

Pure Accelerate 2024 Also Tackles Cyber Resilience — Powered by AI

Another key highlight coming out of Pure Accelerate 2024 is all about cyber resilience powered by AI. Cyber resilience has become a key necessity in modern infrastructure, which in the space of data storage is not a new concept and has always been a priority. Pure announced at Pure Accelerate 2024 the structuring of its protection philosophy according to the NIST 2.0 framework covering identification, protection, detection, response, recovery, and governance. As part of this strategy, the company has integrated capabilities such as always-on safe mode snapshots and ransomware recovery into its platform, continuously enhancing them to counter increasingly sophisticated AI-powered attacks. I was also impressed to see that Pure has programs in place to help customers with replacement systems and white glove service when needed. I think customers are looking for services and support today as much as they are looking for technology solutions, so this is a smart move.

At Pure Accelerate 2024, a new AI copilot was introduced designed to improve operational security through a security assessment and proactive data protection assessment. The focus has now shifted to detecting advanced attack patterns using AI capabilities, including denial of service attacks and data exfiltration. I’m glad to see this. This move further commits Pure to being a key cyber-resilience player, which I see as a very good thing for the future, as it’s a given that ransomware and cyber risks are not going away any time soon.

Pure also announced it has updated its ransomware SLA to encompass all types of disasters and enhanced its resilience SLA for Evergreen//One. This provides customers with proactive support from customer success managers to address security assessment issues and close them on their behalf. Customers can enroll in the resilience SLA, which includes receiving a quarterly security audit report. Pure is potentially underplaying its hand in this area from a marketing/educational standpoint and I’ll be watching to see how this plays out.

Pure’s Storage-as-a-Service Model

At Pure Accelerate 2024 Pure also announced a storage-as-a-service model that involves three key elements: how customers buy, operate, and experience it. This includes deciding between owning storage or paying for usage, vendor management, and user policies and usage through a SaaS management platform.

Pure has also announced a new AI-powered reserve expansion recommender to optimize usage and resources. Customers typically set up reserve commitments at specific sites, but the company’s rebalanced SLA allows annual rebalancing of capacity reserves across locations. I have one word for this: Smart! Our research shows that one of the biggest issues in the development and rollout of AI projects are closely associated with costs and ROI and solving for this by building in flexibility is something I believe customers will find attractive I hope to see more customer proof points around this moving forward.

Finally, these continuous improvements in the SaaS offering include faster-unified block and file tiers and improved SLAs for better performance, which are made possible by the Evergreen architecture. Customers benefit from non-disruptive upgrades and access to blocked file object deployment and receive 10 concurrent SLAs from Pure.

Wrapping up Pure Accelerate 2024: Acceleration or Fusion?

My conversation with Pure’s Prakash Darji left an indelible impression, as did the announcements coming out of Pure Accelerate 2024. The company is doing a good job of explaining and underscoring the strides being made to fuse AI into the Pure platform and support users in navigating the complexities of AI infrastructure.

Pure is in a very interesting position in the market as it navigates the treacherous waters of AI hype by taking a grounded approach based on its core strategy: no crazy pivot but rather incremental (which does not always mean small increments) adjustments to match market demand and end-user uncertainties. It would be easy to go “all AI all the time” for this “Flashy” (pun intended) company, but I’m glad to see a measured strategy focusing on operational efficiencies and economic realities. 

Let’s double-click on what I mean by that in the context of using AI as a feature set: the conversational and interactive attributes of the AI copilot were particularly salient in my discussion with Prakash. Beyond disseminating information, the copilot actively dialogues with users, rendering the experience more intuitive and seamless. This approach portends considerable potential for streamlining and optimizing platform usage while enhancing proactive management capabilities. I believe this is product marketing gold — if properly executed over time.

The other dimension is whether Pure Storage can beat or contend with its competition to become one of the likely few enterprise AI infrastructure standard platforms. And it’s nothing if not a competitive market out there. Pure has a great opportunity but faces formidable challengers, all of whom are vying for the same spot. Some will tout a “total AI solution” type of message and hype it up with heavy marketing. Using the crawl, walk, run analogy, in a world where end-users are actually still barely getting out of the crawling phase as it relates to AI, one could argue that Pure’s approach has the merits of pragmatism without compromising on innovation. I think that’s excellent food for thought for the big guys out there.

I see the announcements coming out of Pure Accelerate 2024 as perhaps less about acceleration and more about fusion. Pure will fuse AI into infrastructure, leverage AI as a feature set, and delivering on cyber recovery with intelligent data storage.

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