The real story behind Pure Storage’s acquisition of Portworx?


Pure Storage has acquired Portworx, the container storage company.

Portworx is a leader in the field of stateful storage for containers, and the acquisition by Pure Storage, which had been growing rapidly in this area, seems like an obvious one at first glance.

But with the financial strength of Pure Storage, which has just graduated from a startup, it seems like a big gamble. Why did they take a huge risk and acquire Portworx?

This appears to be a declaration from a 30-year industry veteran to join the IBM camp against VMware.

Let’s try to unravel why it looks that way in this article.

VMware and Pure Storage

VMware and Pure Storage have a good relationship. This won’t change with the Portworx acquisition.

For example, Pure Storage’s Pure 1 and VMware Tanzu Observability (formerly Wavefront) are available for Pure 1 integration as well as Splunk, Datadog, and AppDynamic, which is being demonstrated at VMworld 2019.

Although good, however, VMware is a subsidiary of Pure Storage’s biggest rival, Dell. VMware also envisions a world composed entirely of servers and the cloud, and aims to make its storage capabilities possible through server capabilities. Storage capabilities are intended to be enabled by server capabilities.

This is the recent VMworld 2020, and VMware Tanzu, the centerpiece of the event, is touting its stateful storage capabilities.

This is a good, well put together article, though it sounds like an elaborate one. It mentions Stortful Storage there. Whether they’re really focused on it or not, it’s probably a pretty important thing for VMware to do.

The “… vSAN Data Enhanced Persistence is a new mechanism for running stateful service data storage such as Cloudian HyperStore, MinIO, DataStax and Dell EMC Ob! jectScale on container platforms. It’s a simple data store. We decided to simply set up these data stores and provide an area for them.


Well, Red Hat OpenShift and Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry (a subsidiary of VMware) have been doing a great job with the so-called PaaS layer for a long time now, and HPE is trying to break into that layer.

Incidentally, IBM, SAP and GE sent engineers to Pivotal for joint development, but HPE didn’t participate initially, and even when they launched the Cloud Foundry Foundation, they were unremarkable, unlike Cisco and others.

“Currently, Cloud! Foundry has about 65 companies participating, including Dell EMC, IBM, SAP, Cisco, NTT and GE Digital, with 51,000 lines of code commits from about 2,400 developers.”

IBM/Red Hat and Pure Storage

Now, what IBM & Red Hat are doing is explaining that as of May, stateful storage will use vSphere & vSAN. Originally, OpenShift was mostly configured to be used on VMware, and this is not a problematic support for enterprise companies.

Portworx can be used as stateful storage in a world that doesn’t assume VMware and is closed to just Kubernetes and OpenShift, and IBM is manufacturing PC servers.

And IBM doesn’t make PC servers. So it doesn’t matter which vendor you choose, you’re basically adopting our ally Cisco’s UCS, especially if Lenovo is a Chinese vendor. Especially now that Lenovo is in a delicate position among Chinese vendors, Cisco is becoming more and more important.

By the way, for Pure Storage, Cisco is our ally for the external storage part, but we also have a good relationship with IBM.

A year ago, IBM was worried about withdrawing from the storage business, but the company declared that it would unify its storage lineup, or in other words, continue its business. However, recent changes in global and economic conditions have put IBM in a difficult business environment.

In addition, IBM has been OEMing NetApp storage products (which has been in decline recently), and SI vendors may be more than happy to weigh up the multiple vendors.

I’ve been thinking that Cisco would be the one to acquire Pure Storage, but I think that an IBM acquisition of Pur! e Storage might be a possibility.

By the way, Pure Storage uses NGINX as a proof-of-concept system, but as the above article shows, it also works well with OpenShift. Maybe you could say it’s a win-win situation.

Wrap Up

Now, the acquisition of Pure Storage aside, the axis of opposition of IBM & Red Hat + Cisco + Pure Storage looks good against VMware, which has two of the inventors of Kubernetes.

What happens next will depend on the state of the economy? In today’s IT systems, it would certainly be easier to bear the cost of not using VMware.

On the other hand, for VMware, if it can take the lead with Kubernetes, it will have a future in the enterprise business.

What at first glance appears to be just a startup acquisition by an upstart vendor could have a significant long-term impact on the industry.

Sei Yotsuba