ESG Blog: ESG in Conversation with 'Coz' at Pure Accelerate (Video)
ESG's Mark Peters interviews John "Coz" Colgrove, CTO of Pure Storage, at Pure Accelerate 2018.

Jun 12, 2018
Mark Peters   ESG Blog: ESG in Conversation with 'Coz' at Pure Accelerate (Video)
Author: Mark Peters


Peters_Colgrove_InterviewJohn Colgrove (universally known as 'Coz') is one of the founders at Pure - that alone makes him interesting. But he also happens to be a genuinely interesting person; so when I got a chance to interview him at the recent Pure Accelerate event, naturally I took it.

I wanted to avoid the obvious “tell us about the products, Coz” (if you want to know about the happenings at the company and the event, you can see ESG's On Location video and other blogs by Bob Laliberte, Scott Sinclair, and Mike Leone)....and so instead in just 5 minutes or so we manage to touch on the motivation of the company founders, the satisfaction of Pure implementations that deliver real value to humanity and not just to balance sheets, and the future - or at least semantic longevity! - of the storage and data industries.

Video Transcript

Announcer: The following is an ESG On Location video.

Mark: Welcome to Pure//Accelerate 2018 here in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium slap bang in the heart of San Francisco. And I've got a few minutes here with John Colgrove, better known as Coz to everyone, one of the founders of Pure. We're gonna talk about what motivated the company, what has changed, perhaps, over the last decade or so and a little bit of looking ahead as well.

Before we talk about what's actually here, what did you really think this company would be, what technology would it be and what industry would it be?

John: When you start a company, you're always obviously hoping for success. But I mean, the path in which you take to get there and things, it's never like you dreamed. And we've been more successful faster than you could possibly have dreamed.

I think one of the things that's been most surprising is...especially as we came out with FlashBlade, all of the really cool things that we're enabling, you know, around the world. When the products you produce are used to really make a difference in someone's life, right? It's one thing to say, "Hey, I let you add up these numbers faster and make more money," that's not exciting. But when we start saying, "Hey, we're helping hospitals do a better job of diagnosing cancer patients."

I was talking to a customer last night, he's really excited about...he's digitizing tens of thousands of ultrasound images from the past 25 years and hoping to do a much better job spotting problematic pregnancies and helping people diagnose them.

Mark: Is this the retrofit aspect that I saw where you can go in and use some of the old data as well?

John: Yeah, it's exactly that. Things like that, you could speed up medical research and things, and it's just really cool and exciting and a lot more fun than selling regular business stuff.

Mark: So clearly, when you started the company, was that philosophic aspect there at the beginning or is that just something that's very pleasing to have seen happened?

John: So there's always the aspect of wanting to make things a lot better for customers. But I think the way in which the technology's used, the importance of data has just grown over the last decade so much. And this notion that I can mine gold out of ancient data, you know, that's something that's new. That wasn't there when we started. And it's really exciting.

Mark: Right. And so I know you spend a lot of time looking forwards, can you encapsulate the next few years? I mean, how far can you even try to look? Because it's not so much the technology, as I imagine, although those are crucial, but it's about their implementation, it's about their deployment.

John: Yeah, I mean, it's really hard to imagine. Just even, you know, go back two years, when we first launched FlashBlade to the world, we never thought, for example, that customers would find tremendous value in something like the rapid restore function. And then you look at the presentation, for example, that ServiceNow gave about how much of a difference it makes to their business, you know, when we started the company and we first launched FlashArray, again, you think like, "Okay, I'm doing this product and I'm gonna sell to all these big companies and buy lots of tech."

And then we had some of these customers early on like, you know, the City of Davenport, Iowa. And then people start using it for, like, storing police body cam data and 911 systems and things like that, and you don't think about that when you're first doing it. Now, you couple it with some of the new stuff, where you can take all that video that they've been shooting, and now, you can basically add in the AI and analyze it and start doing new things with it. And so even looking a year or two ahead of what people are gonna use it for...

Mark: Let me just wrap this by saying so you started at the beginning...I was asking about which industry, and you said storage because that's what it was at the time. Do we have a storage industry as such, whether it's storage or data in a few years' time or is it all subsumed into, I don't want to say commoditization, but standardization and systems that are integrated, or in fact, does the storage/data industry actually become the single most important thing we ever have because of that goal?

John: Well, I think it's more the latter. It's not about the hardware you put it on right now. It's about the data, right? You're a customer, you couldn't care less about our hardware. Our hardware could burn up and you couldn't care less. What you care about is your data, and that's where all the value is. And so we've always designed the product as a data-centric solution and I think we're going into a full data-centric world where it's all about the data. And people are coming up with new ways to use it every day. New things are dreaming of that I can't even begin to imagine. It's everywhere and it's all about the data, and that's the key.

Mark: There's certainly a lot of change going on in the market, in the uses. I'll congratulate Pure on the change you brought to the market. You've, by the way, also done very different events. Long may it continue. Thank you for your time.

John: Thanks.

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