Feeds

Pillar Data - Larry Ellison's other storage company

Life after Sun

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Analysis Oracle buying Sun Microsystems has caused people to wonder about the future of Pillar Data, Larry's other storage company.

Pillar Data is backed by Larry Ellison's personal investment vehicle, Tako Ventures, possibly to the tune of half a billion dollars.

Founded in 2001 the Silicon Valley-based firm has developed the Axiom storage line, guaranteeing 80 per cent utilisation, which is, it says, twice the industry average. Better utilisation means fewer storage systems. Axiom is also "application aware", which makes for much more efficient storage provisioning, according to Pillar.

Oracle has its own hardware ventures, notably the database machine developed in partnership with HP. And now it is buying Sun, which has its own significant storage offering.

So where does Pillar fit into Larry Ellison's scheme of things? Come the end of the recession, he can make a decent return on his investment by getting the company to IPO. Or, he could broker a deal one day to fold Pillar into Oracle.

This is the more intriguing possibility. And strategically, it makes sense. A view from inside Pillar is that the Oracle boss is personally funding Pillar to see if, among other things, if it is possible to build a storage offering that sidesteps third party storage vendors.

If Oracle owned the entire stack, the whole works from disk platters through to its own software then customers avoid the sometimes great expense of, say, an EMC or NetApp system capable of operating and storing the data needed.

So is Sun the answer? The answer in the Pillar camp is "no".

The Sun arrays

Sun's storage arrays include high-end USP-V HDS products that Sun resells to a different customer base from the mid-sized enterprises that tend to buy Pillar Axiom arrays.

Moving on to Sun's mid-range arrays, which contain technology inherited from StorageTek, the company bought by Sun for $4.1bn in 2005. These are based on products supplied by LSI or Dot Hill and are, loosely speaking, first generation SAN arrays, and not second generation iterations, as exemplified by 3PAR, Compellent and Pillar.

These StorageTek products are storage array platforms without the ability to offer application-specific quality of service or utilisation guarantees. Combine these limitations with the need to pay LSI and/or Dot Hill for the supplied enclosures and controllers, and the Axiom arrays look less costly and better suited to work in many Oracle customers' environments. So says the Pillar camp.

Now consider the Sun Open Stage 7000 products and the X4500 Thumper hybrid server/storage arrays, which are produced by Sun's system division. A Pillar aside is that it seems that whenever server guys build storage they always build servers.

The Sun 7000 business model, with its commodity hardware aspects, is good news in Oracle-land, but its open source software is not. Not to Oracle, any way. Neither is the bag-of-bits aspect of the 7000's software environment particularly attractive to many customers, according to the Pillar camp. Here are the software lego blocks; now build the storage array hardware and software system yourself. No thank you. I want to have an easier time implementing my storage array. (N.B. Note the reader comments that attack this characterisation of Sun's 7000 line.)

Combine that with the lack of any application-aware quality of service facilities and utilisation guarantees and the Pillar Axiom stacks up well against the Sun drive arrays. If Oracle bought Pillar then it's thought that the StorageTek drive arrays would quietly wither away, The high-end HDS ones kept, and the Sun X4500 and 7000 products also undergo withering with the Axiom surviving and prospering, perhaps with added Sun technology, such as ZFS.

The upshot is that Pillar is not threatened by the Oracle-Sun deal. But its future might be made clearer by it, with the Sun acquisition perhaps functioning as a catalyst to make developments happen regarding Pillar.

Nobody knows what's in Larry's mind, except Larry and his close colleagues, so this analysis is not informed by a close understanding of his intentions. Hopefully, it adds some insight into what could happen with Pillar in coming years. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
Intel, Cisco and co reveal PLANS to keep tabs on WORLD'S MACHINES
Connecting everything to everything... Er, good idea?
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.