EMC has put its money where its mouth is on its flash strategy by offering the first customer to find better-performing technology than its XtremIO product a $1m (£590,000) jackpot.
The vendor made the pledge at its EMC World partner and customer gathering in Las Vegas where it also fired the gun on its "rescue mission" trade-in scheme through which customers who have bought rival flash products can part-exchange them for what EMC claims is its superior kit.
When XtremIO was launched last year, EMC faced scathing criticism from arch rival Pure Storage, which claimed EMC's flash offering was less advanced that its own and even suggested the firm had copied its technology.
While the storage giant did not reference the start-up by name during the announcement, EMC Information Infrastructure's chief executive David Goulden appeared to refute Pure's claims in his keynote speech.
He showed the audience two graphs comparing real customer data on EMC's XtremIO performance against that of "a competing storage start-up" – which was represented in orange, Pure Storage's brand colour. The data showed the latter to have much poorer performance than XtremIO.
"The competitive option is not always on," Goulden said. "As it fills up [with data] the performance goes down. It is not very impressive."
He then said his firm was so confident XtremIO performed better than competing kit all the time, it would offer $1m to the first customer to prove otherwise.
"From our point of view, our all-flash products are always on, and we guarantee it," he said. "You might be there thinking ‘he's talking a good game but are they prepared to put their money where their mouth is?' Well, it's Vegas, and I think we should. Twenty dollars – is that an impressive guarantee? $200? $1,000? $10,000? It's not enough. As it's Vegas – let's up the game."
He then walked into the audience towards a covered box in the centre of the auditorium, which he unveiled, showing an EMC storage array stuffed with $1m in cash.
"We are guaranteeing $1m – there is $1m in this storage system," he said, prompting applause and cheering from the audience.
"For the first customer that gets XtremIO to turn off or throttle back, the $1m is yours," he claimed.
"With this guarantee, we're exposing the shortcomings of competing solutions. We are happy to put $1m on the line to make our point and make the market aware of the distance that exists between XtremIO and its competitors."
He added that EMC is also now offering customers a trade-in scheme so that any who have purchased competing flash products can part-exchange them for EMC kit instead.
"I'm sensing a few people in the audience are thinking ‘damn, I didn't buy XtremIO'," he said. "Well, if you bought another flash array like the one on the slide, we're launching a rescue programme. It's a very competitive trade-in against a system that really works."
In a media Q&A session after his keynote address, Goulden told CRN that the initiatives were put in place to respond to rivals that had peddled "false claims".
"We [want] to set the record straight around flash right now," he said. "There's a lot of hype around the industry about flash and some companies are making very false claims about what they can do and what they can't do.
"Trust me, I had to fight our legal and financial teams and the risk-management teams about the $1m guarantee, but I'm not worried about paying it."
When later questioned about the increasingly aggressive competitive storage landscape, he said the flurry of new start-ups is a good sign for EMC.
"If the competition goes away, that market is not exciting," he said. "The fact that there are so many companies in this area is reassuring that we're in a market that will grow. The competition – if anything – is just keeping us nimble."
EMC further bolstered its flash offering by announcing its intention to acquire flash firm DSSD in a transaction that is expected to close in the second quarter.
The storage giant claimed its latest buy, for an undisclosed sum, will help its customers get their heads around social, mobile, cloud and big data tech.
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