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Storage Expo, London Pillar Data called its competitors "dumb" as it opened its European operations this week. The Larry Ellison-funded storage networking unstart-up is the latest to claim it will revolutionise the market with systems that do more than anyone else for less money.

Its Axiom boxes can provide both file-based NAS services and block-based SAN volumes from the same storage pool, with the added benefit that the storage can be tuned to the specific application it's intended for, said Pillar CEO Mike Workman. More importantly, it avoids translating data from block to file format unnecessarily, he said, claiming that inefficiencies in the way some other NAS companies provide SAN access mean that data can be converted up to four times.

"Everyone else is trying to do consolidation, but they're trying to do it in a dumb way," he added, pointing out that data is stored in block form on the disk, so converting it to file volumes then back to Fibre Channel or iSCSI block format is a waste.

"SAN/NAS consolidation is just one of ten things we do," he said. "When you're a start-up you need to do more than one thing. It's one platform that does ten things well, not ten different platforms. The [cost] savings come from doing more with less," and accepting lower margins than the big NAS vendors do, he added.

Axiom boxes cost from £30,000, and they use 8-byte LUNs, so they don't have the 16TB volume limit that others have, Workman said, adding, "It's crazy, but we have customers with 300TB LUNs."

Pillar's quality of service (QoS) metrics let you describe a business problem in storage terms, with drop-down menus to tune the storage for the application. "The big thing is the ability to do archiving and run Oracle, say, on the same platform using the same storage," Workman said. "By contrast, EMC says if you want to archive buy Centera, and if you want to do something else buy something else."

He adds that Pillar will have spent $200m on development by the end of this year. It now has a sales office in the UK and will open French and German offices soon, with a plan to appoint a distributor in each country and operate a "channel-friendly hybrid" direct/indirect sales model - if such a thing really exists.®

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