I wrote a blog last August celebrating the fifth anniversary of the partnership between Cisco and Pure Storage. Since then, we have continued to innovate together on solutions such as deeper integration with Cisco Intersight™, providing top-to-bottom management and automation for our customers’ mission-critical infrastructure. I have been part of the Cisco team focused on this partnership since it first launched and have witnessed the powerful innovation fueled by our relationship and how it benefits our customers. Now, I’m even more excited about where we’re heading.

Why we partner

Technology companies typically partner because it’s often faster and more cost effective to fill a gap with a partnership, by aligning or integrating solutions, to create a force multiplier that delivers high value-add.

Alignment is more common, as it’s quicker to market and requires less investment. It rarely leverages the combined power of true integration, however. Simple alignment may be helpful in some basic use cases, but the modern data center approach deserves more substantial vendor alignment and investment. So, how can an infrastructure buyer know the difference? One sure clue is to look for gaps or tradeoffs in the solution. Some common examples:

  • Is the solution manageable from a single, common interface where both technology partners are developing to a platform with open APIs?
  • Is there a clear upgrade path to other solutions in the portfolio?
  • Do components across the solution scale independently, or does the system require a full-forklift upgrade?
  • Is there a single, accountable support organization with escalation paths shared across the vendors?

If you can’t point to a clear ‘yes’ for all of these considerations, the solution lacks integration value.

Better together

Partnerships often develop organically in the marketplace. I’ve seen some of the best integration opportunities born out of a customer suggestion. Because of Cisco and Pure Storage’s close proximity in the IT landscape, minimal overlap, and best-of-breed technology, integration opportunities continue to develop. The FlashStack solution, fueled by customer and channel partner commitment and enabled by continuous innovation, continues to thrive.

FlashStack combines Pure Storage’s FlashArray, a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader for seven consecutive years, with Cisco UCS®, Cisco Nexus® network and MDS storage switching. The whole stack is ultimately leveraged through Cisco Intersight, capable of automating workflows to streamline the process between application and infrastructure.

But even with best of breed technology integration, the best partnerships become stale without continuous innovation and development to keep pace with the transformations underway. Our partnership now extends beyond the technology to include support for the latest IT business models. In 2021, this means offering integrated, flexible consumption models that support the way many CIOs now wish to consume their IT.

Economic innovation

As IT executives and CIOs look to drive agility and efficiency, they are moving toward as-a-service models. Research shows consumption-based models speed up digital transformation with the transparency and agility to repurpose capital to address business demand. According to IDC, 58 percent of IT organizations prefer as-a-service over CapEx and lease options. Over the next three years, 60 percent of IT cloud infrastructure will move to an as-a-service model, up from 50 percent today.

Combining technology and economic innovation

Admittedly, Cisco and Pure Storage built the bulk of our partnership equity on integration at a technology level, and that’s awesome. I’ll suggest it’s time to add another consideration to those listed above in determining if a solution meets the criteria for customer value:

  • Does the solution offer a unified consumption model, complete with a single buying experience, consistent terms, and combined monitoring, usage, and billing?

Achieving this next level of integration requires a partnership based on the highest levels of commitment and vendor compatibility. Fortunately, Cisco and Pure Storage share exactly that. I get to participate every day in our shared pursuit of this business-level solution value. We know from our customers and channel partners what’s necessary, and we are well underway to achieving this latest criterion.

Learn more about our Pure Storage partnership and some customer success stories


Eric Blonda

Partner Executive

Global Pure Storage Alliance