At a time when climate change and its adverse effects are garnering more headlines than ever, it has become more common for businesses of all shapes and sizes to tout their sustainability initiatives and credentials for all the world to see. Increasingly, consumers want to support companies that align with their values, and the same can be said for prospective employees looking for a new workplace. There are many ways businesses can minimize their environmental footprint, be it reducing their energy consumption, cutting carbon emissions, eliminating unnecessary waste, recycling or much more. A common method for sharing these sustainability benchmarks, goals and achievements is via an annual report released to the public (for example, Cisco’s Purpose Work Report). This year, Pure Storage is putting its hat into the ring by releasing its first annual Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Report. Let’s take a closer look.
Pure Storage, for those unfamiliar, is a publicly-traded, CA-based company that specializes in all-flash storage hardware and software products for the data center. Founded in 2009, the company now employs over 4,000 employees and boasts over 10,000 customers across 39 different countries. Notably, this customer base also includes over 50% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list. Moor Insights & Strategy covers Pure extensively—if interested, see one of analyst Steve McDowell’s most recent articles here.
Among many other companies I cover, Pure Storage is unique for its highly upgraded systems and frequent software improvements and updates. This is one of Pure’s most vital selling points regarding ESG—the upgradeable systems can stay in operation longer, keeping significant amounts of e-waste out of the ecosystem. While this marks the first year Pure has put its efforts on exhibit with a report, CEO Charles Giancarlo stressed in his intro that the benchmarks and commitments noted within reflect “the way we have always operated and the values we live by each and every day.”
Pure’s ESG efforts focus on technology, operations, and people. In technology, the company highlighted its commitment to building more sustainable products, services and infrastructure that help its customers meet their own respective sustainability goals. Drilling down into the specifics of Pure’s technology, DirectFlash technology claims significant energy reductions over SSDs. In combination with Pure’s built-for-flash software, DirectFlash enables products with higher levels of reliability (purportedly thrice that of the industry average SSD) and overall longer service lifetimes. Pure also highlighted the full efficiency and lower emissions it delivers to customers through its always-on-data reduction capability.
One of Pure’s main ESG goals is to drive down direct carbon usage in storage. According to company analysis shared in the report, Pure’s FlashArray//XL170 product reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by over 80% compared to a competitive flash array. Pure found similar results comparing the FlashArray//X70 (an 84% reduction) and the FlashArray//C (a 75% reduction) to comparable offerings. According to Pure, the 80% reduction is equivalent to the average vehicle driving approximately 132,634 miles, or alternately, using 5,938 gallons of gasoline. For further perspective, see Figure 1 below.
One of the more impressive numbers cited in the report was Pure’s finding that 97% of its arrays purchased six years ago are still in service. This gets right to the heart of what I believe is the company’s chief value prop for sustainability—the longevity of its products. Pure attributes this to its “Evergreen Storage” architecture. When coupled with the Pure-as-a-Service consumption model, Evergreen delivers continuous, non-disruptive software and hardware upgrades. Notably, these upgrades happen in place instead of the traditional time-consuming migration process of upgrading storage. In Pure’s words, Evergreen “brings many of the benefits of the cloud operating model to an on-premises storage purchase.” Evergreen Storage also boasts flat and fair pricing, predictive and proactive support, array and workload optimization and a reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, Pure upgrades storage by replacing individual components instead of the old-school approach of trashing the whole system. This keeps a whole lot of e-waste out of the landfill.
Pure’s ESG report denoted several goals for making operations across its global portfolio and supply chain more sustainable. It committed to a 50% intensity reduction in market-based scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions per employee from 2020 to 2030. Taking it a step further, Pure committed to achieving net-zero marketed-based scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2040. Additionally, the company says it will reach a 66% intensity reduction in scope 3 emissions per effective petabyte of storage it ships from 2020 to 2030.
Pure shared several ways in which it has worked towards these goals in the past year. It has procured energy from green suppliers in over 60% of its data centers, with a renewable energy procurement strategy in place to increase its overall purchase of renewable energy. Second, Pure says it has partnered with its supply chain manufacturers to design leaner, more efficient processes (for example, utilizing vertical space to reduce its footprint). Lastly, Pure says it is now including sustainability criteria in its site selection processes, including:
- Building LEED certification
- Availability of renewable energy
- LED lighting
- Water efficiency infrastructure
- Efficient floor plan designs
- Accessible public transport
- Office recycling availability
- Utilization of sustainable materials
The human element
Adjacent to the environmental goals and progress laid out in the report, Pure also highlighted its ESG commitments to its workforce. It emphasized its efforts to hire, develop and retain best-in-class individuals and teams, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The company wishes to empower its workforce by providing community service opportunities and promoting its employees’ overall health and well-being.
While not directly tied to environmental sustainability, I do think fostering a healthy, positive workplace culture pays a multitude of dividends downstream. Not only does it make the company more attractive to (and retentive of) talent, but I expect it makes it a lot easier to get employees engaged and focused on the company’s myriad ESG initiatives,
I came away from Pure Storage’s first annual ESG Report with a better understanding of its attitude towards sustainability and how that has manifested in the ways enumerated above. From what I’ve seen, Pure Storage doesn’t simply talk the talk of sustainability. Its flash arrays provide impressive energy efficiency and reliability, while its Evergreen architecture continuously works to keep systems online, updated and out of the landfill. Its emissions goals are bold but in keeping with what I’ve seen from other environmentally-conscious businesses.
I look forward to checking in on Pure’s progress towards these targets in next year’s ESG report.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.