Forbes contributor and analyst Peter Cohan writes on seemingly conflicting stories coming from Pure and EMC. Let’s unpack the dueling narratives.
Pure logo
Does Pure win 70% vs EMC or does EMC win 95% vs Pure?
The metrics:

Both parties seem to agree that they meet up very often in competitive bidding situations. EMC claims that it beats Pure 95% of the time they vie for “pure flash” bids while Pure says it wins the vast majority of these business battles.
Pure claims that it’s growing at 400% a year and much of that comes from winning 70% of its competitive battles. . . .

The qualifier from Scott Dietzen, Pure CEO:

We beat EMC 70% of the time when we get potential customers to test our product in competition. . . .

EMC spokesman Dave Farmer says:

The fact is, EMC XtremIO wins over Pure 95% of the time in head-to-head all-flash array sales.

Whose numbers can you trust?
Pure’s statement relies on bake-off numbers, where the prospect tests both the products. The hassle involved in getting hardware into a shop for testing means that Pure has a clear record of each competitive test.

EMC’s number is much softer. How does EMC corporate know that they are competing with Pure in a sale? The EMC sales rep says they are.

Sales reps have no incentive to downplay the competitive environment. Indeed, they have a positive incentive to exaggerate the competition since they may need a competitive allowance to close a deal.

The StorageMojo take
Given the apples-to-oranges comparison, both companies can be correct. Pure’s problem is that it takes working capital to put hardware on a customer site and personnel to support the testing.

The good news for Pure is that once they win a sale they have a customer champion in that account. Follow on sales should be easier.

EMC benefits from their large customer footprint. Selling XtremIO is the easy part: their problem is preserving VMAX sales in the face of obviously superior price/performance of flash arrays, even their own.

That’s why the DSSD buy – rumored to cost as much as $1 billion if all milestones are met – is so important. They want to preserve their VMAX software investment while making VMAX performance competitive with flash arrays.

But if customers discover that much of the VMAX software stack is less important in a cloud world even DSSD will be in vain. Which motivates EMC’s effort to also build a comprehensive set of cloud on-ramps – such as TwinStrata – vital.

That is a subject for another post.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Winning isn’t everything, it’s how you define winning that counts.