Pure Storage’s Evergreen Storage Program – A Marketing Solution to Engineering Problems

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Pure Storage (“Pure”) makes a lot of noise about their Evergreen Storage program.  With bold claims like “never rebuy a TB you’ve purchased, never do a data migration again and never do another forklift upgrade”, but the devil, and more importantly, the customer costs are in the details.  We think after reviewing the facts you will come to the same conclusions we have.  At its core Evergreen Storage – in our opinion –  is a marketing program with features designed to overlook architectural shortcomings by focusing on specific customer benefits, while netting Pure high profit margins and locking in customers!

Why Did Pure Need to Invent the Evergreen Storage Program

Pure continuously markets that Evergreen isn’t just a program it’s also how they engineer their FlashArray product.  To keep their FlashArray product design simple to upgrade, while keeping data in place, they had to make some architectural choices that would enable that goal.  However, along with those architectural decisions came some inherent limitations that they needed to market and sell around.  This is where the Evergreen Storage comes into play

So, what are some of the architectural decisions Pure made a long time ago to enable their ‘evergreen’ storage, for the FlashArray product line, and what are some of the consequences of those decisions?

Architectural Decisions

  1. Pure chose to use a dual controller active-passive architecture, which dramatically simplifies their design goal of being able to do Data-In-Place controller upgrades with no down time.  They simply upgrade the passive controller first, then make it the active controller so they can upgrade the other controller.
  2. To get around some of their inherent performance issues, Pure now uses their own proprietary NVMe flash modules (X50, X70, X90), instead of industry standard flash drives, which means that they now have to do all the flash memory management, which can further affect performance.

Consequences of Those Decisions

  1. Performance is bottlenecked by how powerful the one active controller is. Remember, that single active controller must handle all normal controller activity as well as do all the management of their proprietary flash modules.  The only way to increase horsepower is by upgrading the controller.  Are you starting to see the need for the Evergreen Gold Program now (Free-Every-Three, Upgrade Flex)?
  2. Scaling capacity is limited by how much capacity a FlashArray’s single active controller can manage and the amount of flash modules its able to support.

Once you max out the amount of capacity the FlashArray can handle, the only way to scale capacity any higher is by swapping higher capacity flash modules into the system to replace the lower capacity flash modules.

So, how does Pure get around these limitations while trying to make money along the way?  Yep, you guessed it, Evergreen Gold and its 3 ‘pay-as-you-grow’ features – Free Every Three, Upgrade Flex and Capacity Consolidation.

What Exactly are Pure’s Evergreen Storage Claims

Let’s break down each Evergreen Gold ‘feature’ and see what it provides, why it’s needed and the hidden costs and issues you won’t hear about from Pure.

Now let’s compare Pure’s Evergreen Gold approach to Dell EMC’s Future Proof approach for the most common customer scenarios.


Find more details on Dell EMC’s full Future Proof customer loyalty program here!

So, what have we learned about Pure’s Evergreen Gold?

Free Every Three: Free Every Three is not ‘free’. We learned that you need to buy Evergreen Gold just to qualify and need to renew Evergreen Gold for another 3 years, 6 years total, to get the ‘free’ controllers. In many ways Free Every Three is really just a form of ‘pre-payment’ for the controllers you may need after 3 years.

Upgrade Flex & Capacity Consolidation: At their essence, both Upgrade Flex and Capacity Consolidation are both REBUY programs.  You are buying newer controllers and capacity to replace what you have already purchased.  This is the very thing Pure says their Evergreen Storage avoids.  Just because Pure claims to provide ‘some’ credit for the replaced controllers and/or capacity doesn’t change the fact it is still a rebuy program.

Our recommendation: do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask Pure some hard questions about their Evergreen Gold subscription…

Questions to Ask Pure

  • Can you show me exactly how much Evergreen Gold’s Free Every Three will save me versus Evergreen Silver and simply buying new controllers IF I ever need them?
  • Can you explain how I am not essentially ‘rebuying’ controllers and/or capacity, with trade-in credits, when I use Upgrade Flex or Capacity Consolidation?
  • Can you explain why I need to purchase more capacity when I use Upgrade Flex to get faster controllers?
  • Why do I need to purchase a new Evergreen Gold 3 year subscription to use Upgrade Flex?

Watch for more detailed blogs de-mystifying Pure’s Evergreen Gold program and comparisons of how it stacks up to Dell EMC’s Future Proof Loyalty Program.

For information on Dell EMC’s storage solutions click here.

For details of Dell EMC’s Future Proof Data Storage Loyalty Program click here.

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