Gary Newgaard is a giant in the government IT industry. For those of you who don’t know him, I’m not just saying that–I’m six feet tall and standing next to Gary makes me feel like I should join the lollipop league.

Gary Newgaard leads the public sector business at Pure Storage. (Photo: Pure Storage)

But seriously, Newgaard’s been a tech sales leader and personality in government IT for more than a quarter century–in a career that traverses every tech change from word processing to PCs and now to advanced analytics and AI. So, I was surprised to learn new things about a fella everybody knows as a veritable icon. And, he’s bringing a tried-and-true approach to all-new innovation as he leads the public sector business at Pure Storage.

Pure Storage is the pure-play flash-storage pioneer. If Symantec’s yellow and Oracle’s red, Pure owns orange–which works well for a University of Tennessee Smokey. Newgaard argues that Pure’s much more than a storage cheetah, he’ll tell you the orange crush is a data company that unlocks new performance and applications.

“We’re not distracted by the cloud wars,” said Newgaard. “As agencies work to achieve new price/performance, they’re deploying a range of on-prem, hybrid, and public cloud platforms. To win, you need to accelerate data access, transfer, and processing–and that’s where Pure kills it. We’re delivering new functionality at very compelling price points.”

So, what are your priorities?

We’re looking to get our message out to the market. Our value proposition definitely turns heads–but customers need to know about us first. We’re very focused on hiring to support our growing business.

Considering technology and mission alignment, it’s all about two letters–AI. We have a close relationship with Nvidia–and I’m delighted to see my old friend Anthony Robbins heading up that business. Pure’s FlashBlade provides the performance to deliver on the promise of AI, machine learning, advanced video analytics, and aerial reconnaissance. In this space, it’s all about time to resolution. We designed our systems from the ground up for these types of applications.

And, speaking of strategic partnerships, we’re working closely with Cohesity, Commvault, and Rubrik to accelerate application backup and recovery.

What’s new and exciting in government IT?

I’ve always relished the opportunity to bring new value to our nation. We did that at Compaq, back in the day–turbocharging productivity with PCs, then luggables, then deskops. But, that was just the beginning. Machine learning (ML) and AI represent the new frontier–from self-driving vehicles to more effective cancer treatments to cyber defense and warfare–and this stuff is not a fantasy. It’s at work today. At the same time, advances in ISR and video analytics are remaking the intelligence universe. These advanced applications have a massive need for next-generation compute speed. And, that’s Pure’s sweet spot–creating a data platform to capture the potential of these amazing new technologies.

It’s mind boggling when you consider that, while the volume of unstructured data has exploded, legacy storage–think spinning disks–built to house that data has not fundamentally changed in decades. Quite simply, legacy storage technologies were designed for an era with entirely different workloads–and certainly not deep learning, GPU, or AI applications. Legacy storage has really become a bottleneck for agencies that want to take advantage of ML and AI to achieve smarter and more efficient government. Pure’s all-flash solutions are designed to remove these bottlenecks–quickly, reliably, securely, and affordably.

What are your thoughts about MGT’s potential to inject new urgency into IT modernization?

It’s an exciting time to be in Federal IT. CIOs and agency leads are eager for change and for the opportunity to put new technologies to work. The funding equation has never been easy or simple, and institutional cholesterol persists. I’m hopeful, however, that MGT and its working capital funds will be a step in the right direction in empowering Federal IT leaders. We’re excited to do our part in powering modernization.

So you’ve been spearheading Pure’s Public Sector business for just a little over a year. What’s different about working at Pure?

Our people, culture, and relentless passion for customer satisfaction. We’re in the top one percent for customer satisfaction across all B2B tech. That’s a huge achievement.

Pure’s a fast growing company that hasn’t abandoned its entrepreneurial spirit. That’s a rare find today, and it shows in our innovative solutions, how we go to market, and our ability–through our technology–to have a dramatic impact on our customers and their ability to deliver on their missions.

We know you’re passionate about IT. What else makes life fun for you?

Certainly, my family. I have two sons who are both in the IT industry, and I have been married to my beautiful bride, Deb, for 35 years.

I also like to build things–carpentry and boats. In fact, when I’m not selling, you’re most likely to find me holding a chisel or plain at work on my latest project–I’m building a boat. I really enjoy scuba diving–I’ve been discovering the ocean for more than 20 years. And, yes, I play golf, although it’s been a while since I had time to pick up a club.

Gary’s life outside the office is an apt metaphor for his working at Pure and in the public sector–building a boat to carry government IT on our modernization voyage of discovery. They say that if you’re tall enough, you just might see the future.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.