Ellison-Backed Pillar Data Systems Set to Launch

The storage startup has received more than $150 million in private funding from the private equity firm of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Backed by one of ITs most aggressive and successful visionaries, Pillar Data Systems is set to rattle the cages of large-scale enterprise storage vendors through its data prioritization technology and favorable storage costs.

Pillar Data Systems Inc. will officially launch its company and Pillar Axiom storage system next week.

Formed in 2001, the storage startup featuring 325 employees has received more than $150 million in private funding from Tako Ventures LLC, the private equity firm of Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp.

The fledgling storage companys hardware and software product portfolio is designed to unify and manage SAN (storage area network) and NAS (network attached storage) environments together or separately on a single platform, said Dr. Michael Workman, president and CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Pillar.

The Pillar Axiom Storage system supporting NAS is currently available.

Next month the company will enable the system to support either SAN or NAS only or combined together.

The companys offerings range from $50,000 to $500,000, said company officials.

For hardware, the Axiom system offers the "Slammer" Storage Controller featuring SAN or NAS I/O management and option, up to 24GB RAM, up to 8GB battery-packed capability, 4 GigE ports or four 2Gbps FC (fiber channel) ports.

Slammer serves as the key data mover for the new storage system. The box virtualizes a customers common storage pool to easily grow file systems and LUNs (logical unit number).

Pillars "Brick" Storage Enclosure provides dual active RAID controllers, embedded RAID-5 protected disk storage, FC interface to serial-ATA or 15K FC drives.

The hardware features 256 MB of local cache and can plug Bricks and Slammers together.

For its part, the Pilot Management Controller features dual control units, active/passive high availability, and two hard drives for configuration and logging.

The central management component for the Axiom Storage System, Pilot, offers data protection, Snap FS and Snap LUN snapshots.

In terms of its attention to software, Pillar Axiom features capabilities such as Storage Manager, Storage Capacity Planner and Configuration Wizard among its management, predictive modeling and provisioning tools.

According to Workman, former vice president of worldwide development for IBMs storage technology division and senior vice-president and CTO of Conner Peripherals, Pillars enhanced storage quality of service allows customers to manage their most complex applications at all storage tiers with scaled capacity and performance.

"Were not naïve enough to think that everyone will consider a new offering from a new company," said Workman.

"[But] were being considered by customers for new applications … we have been purchased in order to displace competitors products since we offer better ease of management and less than maintenance costs on existing systems."

Having purchased a total of 14.4 useable terabytes of storage from Pillar, Robert Moon, CIO of Emeryville, Calif.-based Leapfrog Enterprises, said the storage providers technology has drastically simplified SAN and NAS management for his organization, which manufactures and distributes childrens educational toys.

"When youre transferring data, updating your disaster recovery site and also doing transactions in your system, you need to be able to prioritize how things are happening. With other major [storage] vendors weve used, we couldnt prioritize that," said Moon.

"A lot of problems [we] ran into with other vendors in the past, this system just didnt have those issues."

For instance, Moon says Pillar Axiom has allowed his staff to tune the new storage system to treat the organizations large volume of Oracle transactions, which must be moved quickly, as the primary storage consideration.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Oracle teaming up with storage vendors in its Resilient Low-Cost Storage Initiative.

Older files, such as previous years of production data or old e-mail and network files that are rarely accessed are then able to be shifted to a storage tier that is noticeably slower and less of an immediate storage access priority.

In addition, he said that Pillar stacked up well against larger storage competitors in terms of a more affordable price point and its technical service capabilities.

If Pillars Axiom system passes his two-to-three-month "stress test," Moon said that his intention is to move all of his current 20TB storage system, including a disaster recovery site in the works, onto the startups technology.

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