Intersection of AI and Sustainability in Enterprise IT

With the backdrop of ongoing political, social, and economic uncertainties, businesses are seeking pragmatic technology investments that can enhance operational efficiency and align with environmental sustainability goals.

In 2024, the enterprise IT landscape is witnessing significant changes. Ramanujam Komanduri, Country Manager of Pure Storage India, addresses these changes in a Q&A session, with Nisha Sharma, Principal Correspondent at CIO&Leader. He discusses key trends in enterprise IT, focusing on the roles of AI and sustainability. Komanduri explains Pure Storage’s approach to these trends, including its commitment to all-flash storage since 2009 and its support for leading AI projects. 

1. What are the key trends shaping the enterprise IT landscape in 2024? How are your solutions positioned to address these trends?

Ramanujam Komanduri, Country Manager, Pure Storage India

Pure Storage sees two significant factors shaping technology adoption in 2024: AI and sustainability. With uncertain political, social, and economic conditions persisting into 2024, businesses will continue to stay pragmatic on their technology investments while looking for opportunities to improve their operations with AI and stay the course of their corporate environmental sustainability goals. Pure Storage’s outlook is backed up by a recent study it commissioned. The study “Drivers of Change: Meeting the Energy and Data Challenges of AI Adoption” reveals the importance of reassessing data infrastructure to reap AI’s benefits and keep energy costs in line.

How is Pure Storage positioned to address these trends? Let’s take sustainability first. The company decided to go all-flash when we were founded in 2009. This has proved to be a good decision. Data Centers are one of the largest consumers of electricity. It’s estimated that data centers account for 1 to 2% of the world’s electricity consumption. And within data centers, storage accounts for 20 to 25% of electricity. Today, most of that storage is still legacy spinning disks. Flash storage has proven to be 80% more energy efficient than legacy storage, requiring less space and less cooling, which in itself involves electricity. Not only that, Pure’s all-flash storage products reduce energy use and carbon emissions by up to 85% compared to competitive all-flash systems. This is primarily because our competitors still rely mostly on SSDs, while Pure Storage can go directly to flash in our DirectFlash modules. Pure Storage’s unique Evergreen model also enables our customers to keep their equipment for much longer while continuing to upgrade the technology. This lowers e-waste tremendously. Many of our customers continue to use their chassis after more than 10 years of purchasing their first Pure array.

Let’s address AI next. Pure Storage supports some of the world’s leading-edge AI projects, such as autonomous vehicle development companies and Meta AI’s Research Super Cluster (AI RSC), the most significant AI supercomputer in the world. Pure Storage anticipated the coming demand for AI years ago by introducing FlashBlade and its AIRI (AI-Ready Infrastructure) solution, co-developed with NVIDIA. AIRI//S is a ready-to-deploy NVIDIA DGX BasePOD reference architecture for AI, developed by Pure Storage and NVIDIA, and includes the latest FlashBlade//S storage. Pure Storage’s FlashBlade hardware portfolio is GPU Direct Storage (GDS) ready, with software enhancements delivering complete GDS support to be available in the near term, further strengthening Pure Storage’s partnership with NVIDIA and enhancing DGX BasePOD certified solutions.

For our more than 12,000 global customers that span industries and workload-type, Pure Storage has proven that it can:

  • improve reliability by a factor of ten over competitors;
  • offer 2 to 5 times more power and space efficiency compared to all-flash and 10 times more efficiency than disk;
  • require 5 to 10 times less manual labor to operate than legacy storage;
  • result in at least 50% lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) compared to competitive offerings of both flash and hard disk;
  • enable customers to eliminate the cumbersome challenges associated with hard disks from their environment. 

2. What are your top priorities for 2024?

We have been a leading innovator in flash storage and data management and expect to continue advancing that leadership. This year, we further strengthened our portfolio by introducing FlashBlade//E, a scale-out unstructured data repository built to handle exponential data growth with industry-leading energy efficiency. We expanded the Pure//E™ family of products with the all-new FlashArray//E™, meeting the needs of the secondary storage market at prices competitive to 7200 RPM hard disk systems, with a fraction of the power, space, and operational costs. Pure Storage introduced a new ransomware SLA guarantee for Evergreen//One™ and enhanced AIOps capabilities, offering customers advanced data resilience and enabling organizations to benefit from a comprehensive data protection strategy. In addition, we introduced the next generation FlashArray//X™ and FlashArray//C™  models, delivering customers the largest-ever performance, efficiency, and security advancements. 

In addition to gaining strong customer momentum, we touched several milestones, including being positioned as A Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage for the third year. We were also recognized as a Leader in the 2023 IDC MarketScape for Container Data Management.

As data grows exponentially, Pure Storage’s vision is to store, manage, and protect the world’s data. We now have a complete platform to fulfill the needs of any workload. Our business strategy focuses on continually increasing our value to our customers, including our consumption and subscription-based offerings. 

3. With the growing importance of digital transformation, what strategic initiatives and product offerings can your company provide to help organizations stay competitive in 2024 and beyond?

Pure Storage is the sole provider capable of delivering a unified, reliable data storage and management platform that can cater to diverse enterprise storage needs. Our best-in-class product portfolio and industry-leading storage platform deliver excellent user experience and maximum investment protection. 

To accelerate digital transformation, enterprises need applications that are agile, dynamic, nimble, scalable, secure, and compatible with a multi-cloud environment. Pure Storage’s Portworx offers a comprehensive, integrated solution encompassing persistent storage, data protection, disaster recovery, data security, cross-cloud and data migrations, and automated capacity management for Kubernetes-based applications. Our products enable customers to deploy any cloud-native data service on any Kubernetes platform across various clouds. The Evergreen//One Storage-as-a-Service subscription ensures uninterrupted operations for modern businesses through robust SLAs, guaranteeing zero downtime and cutting-edge ransomware protection that fortifies data and provides business continuity with unparalleled security.

Our solutions can achieve an impressive 85% reduction in energy use and carbon emissions compared to other all-flash systems. Our products yield a 91% reduction in yearly energy consumption and CO2 emissions and a 95% reduction in rack space. They occupy less physical space, last over a decade, and allow modular, non-disruptive upgrades, thus minimizing e-waste.

4. How are your solutions adapting to support automation and AI? What innovations can we expect in this space in 2024?

Pure Storage supports over 100 customers across various AI use cases, including self-driving cars, financial services, genomics, gaming, manufacturing, and many more. With the market’s most comprehensive data storage platform, Pure Storage delivers unrivaled efficiency and performance at every step of the AI process – from data curation to model training to inference – regardless of where enterprises sit in their AI adoption. Powering the most advanced AI projects globally, Pure Storage empowers customers to launch AI initiatives at any scale, providing a flexible data storage foundation that grows as needs evolve. Critical advancements to the Pure Storage portfolio include:

  • AIRI: Pure Storage has been at the forefront of optimized AI storage since the launch of FlashBlade® in 2017, and AIRI, its AI-Ready Infrastructure reference architecture, was co-developed with NVIDIA in 2018. Today, Pure Storage is among the first enterprise data storage vendors to become NVIDIA DGX BasePOD certified. Built on the NVIDIA DGX BasePOD reference architecture for AI and leveraging the latest FlashBlade//S™ storage platform, AIRI accelerates and simplifies AI scaling and deployment to keep the enterprise focused on delivering valuable insights rather than managing IT.
  • FlashStack for AI: With FlashStack for AI and new supporting validated designs, Pure Storage and Cisco help IT teams navigate new AI application stacks and data pipelines while avoiding infrastructure and operation silos. New Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) with AI-accelerated FlashStack and NVIDIA AI Enterprise software for virtualized and containerized environments serve as automation playbooks for enterprises to deploy standard AI models for generative AI, LLMs, computer vision, and more. With the latest tested and proven CVDs, Pure Storage, Cisco, and NVIDIA technologies help IT teams deliver AI infrastructure efficiently and securely at scale while enabling data science teams to get projects into production faster with less risk.
  • Portworx for AI: AI workloads are often deployed in containerized environments to ensure that data scientists can achieve agility with model training and predictions; meanwhile, platform engineering teams must address the associated complexity with delivering self-service, data resiliency, and efficient storage in multi-cloud environments. With Portworx by Pure Storage, enterprises can accelerate data science productivity using rapid spin-up of notebooks and pipelines and eliminate data transfers between different types of storage or multi-cloud regions. Additionally, Portworx can be leveraged to protect datasets on notebooks across several stages of the pipeline and deliver cost savings with improved utilization of underlying storage anywhere.

We’re excited to continue empowering organizations to navigate AI’s complexities confidently.

5. As organizations value their intelligence, what enhancements can we anticipate in your solutions?

As organizations navigate complex decisions, technological advancements are the linchpin, delivering precise insights while safeguarding data integrity. The symbiosis of accuracy, timeliness, and robust security in business intelligence fosters informed decision-making, propelling enterprises toward sustained success. And that is precisely what we deliver.

Our commitment to safeguarding data is reflected in the use of AES-256-bit encryption, which ensures the highest data protection standards at rest. In a ransomware attack, backups can be restored within minutes, thus minimizing business disruptions.

Pure Storage has set a high benchmark in environmental sustainability by developing products and business models that empower clients to reduce energy consumption and e-waste substantially. Rigorous testing has demonstrated our solutions’ ability to decrease energy usage by up to 80% compared to alternative flash-based storage systems.

6. The talent gap in IT remains a concern. How are you supporting CIOs/enterprises in addressing the skills shortage, and what initiatives are in place to foster education and training for IT professionals in the coming year?

We are committed to helping enterprises address the issue of the talent gap in IT. We implement education and training initiatives for IT professionals and collaborate with industry partners and educational institutions to develop tailored programs that align with emerging technology trends. We also invest in internal training and upskilling our workforce to be abreast of developments and requirements in the industry. 

At Pure Storage, we are committed to fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. To this end, we have launched the ‘Better Up Coaching’ initiative and facilitated live virtual learning sessions through Workday Learning, tailored to meet corporate and business requirements. We also host ‘India Tech Fridays,’ where employees deliver presentations on emerging technologies and innovations. Meanwhile, our patent program encourages and supports employees in filing patents and disclosures.

7. Can you provide examples of successful customer use cases from the past year demonstrating the value of your products and solutions, and how do these success stories inform your 2024 strategy?

Recently, while working with one of our customers, a significant stockbroker, it emerged that their infrastructure consumed 7 kW of power. When we mentioned that our own technology operates on just 1.7 kW, they were genuinely surprised and immediately interested, having never imagined such a significant difference. Our ability to achieve almost 80% reduction in energy and data center rack space testifies to our expertise in efficient resource usage and underlines the cost benefits we offer our clients.

8. Vendor partnerships are crucial in the enterprise IT ecosystem. What collaborations and alliances are in the pipeline for your company, and how will they benefit CIOs and their organizations in 2024?

Pure Storage partners with the leading technology providers in the IT industry, such as Cisco and NVIDIA, to develop advanced solutions that help organizations expedite their digital IT transformation while significantly improving customer experience and business performance. Our ecosystem-driven strategy is designed to establish a wider market presence and enrich our solutions portfolio by encompassing core business functions and domains such as AI, hybrid cloud, and data security. We implement these solutions in partnership with key solution providers in the Indian market to deliver comprehensive outcomes for our customers.

9. CIOs are always concerned about the total cost of ownership. How are you optimizing cost and providing value for your customers in 2024?

CIOs assess the total cost of ownership (TCO) to achieve better business outcomes. TCO encompasses both acquisition expenses and the strategic benefits derived from a sustainable data center, continuous technology innovation, and a secure environment resilient to ransomware threats. Establishing an always-on data platform also figures in the comprehensive evaluation that CIOs are currently contemplating.

Pure Storage’s products deliver a tenfold increase in reliability, leading to a reduction in service visits between 10 and 30 times and a decline in the TCO by over 50 percent. Implementing an automation-driven cloud operating model reduces the need for manual labor by a tenth. With a commitment to continual improvement, our product pipeline ensures non-disruptive enhancements and optimal outcomes across multiple parameters.

Furthermore, our unique Evergreen subscription model ensures longevity by relieving customers of the need to implement wholesale hardware changes every 3-5 years. Almost 97% of our arrays purchased over six years ago remain operational today, attesting to their enduring quality and sustainability.

For nearly a decade, our clientele has benefited from the introduction of our latest technologies. These solutions have been seamlessly incorporated into their subscription packages, underlining our commitment to delivering advanced services.

Image Source: Freepik

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