Oracle tries to bust out of storage also-ran box
Software giant: Basic storage kit? We do that too
Oracle says it is seeing strong growth in its NAS, SAN and tape storage portfolio. Maybe a high-end Axiom array is coming but, even so, there's no sign Oracle is about to emerge from the IDC Storage Tracker's "Others" category.
The data excludes Oracle's engineered Exa- systems (Exadata, Exalytics, etc) and refers to basic storage products.
The evidence cited by Oracle is that:
- Sun ZFS StorageAppliance sales have grown by more than 200 per cent over the past year and the boxes are installed in 40 of the Global Fortune 100 corporations.
- More than 100 new customers in over 25 new countries outside the USA have bought Pillar Axiom disk drive arrays since Oracle bought Pillar in-house at the end of June 2011.
- Customers have bought more than 2EB of tape cartridge media for the high-end T10000C tape drives as used in the SL3000 and SL8500 tape libraries, with the shipped capacity doubling bin six months.
The Pillar info is interesting, as we can say that a growth rate of approximately 100 new international customers in 13 months is over seven a month. Each one must have bought at least one array and we could roughly guesstimate Oracle has sold 150 Axiom arrays to new international customers in that time.
There's no data on Axiom's sales to existing customers. The top-end Axiom 600 had a follow-on project called Napa we found out about in March 2010. It was then envisaged to be three times more powerful than the Axiom 600, with around 1,600 drives and be capable of a million IOPS using SSDs. The thing used 10 re-engineered smaller Axiom 300s as modules, linking them over InfiniBand.
Since then the Axiom 300 has disappeared and Pillar's hardware development has gone quiet. Oracle's issuing of a storage sales growth press release citing Pillar indicates that, behind the scenes, Axiom hardware development is taking place. We wait and see.
In the ZFS Storage Appliance world, the product is under competitive assault by other arrays, including the traditional NetApp kit – EMC's VNX and IBM's V7000 – which has trounced the Oracle box on an SPC-1 benchmark.
These results could reflect an Oracle focus on engineered systems. Storage is part of a converged software and hardware system, so price savings compared to "buying the bit" separately wouldn't motivate Oracle to provide storage hardware outside the engineered systems at price/performance levels to beat similar products from EMC, NetApp and so on.
We don't see Oracle as an identified storage supplier in IDC's Storage Tracker: it is still included in the "Others" category. If it wants to rival the storage big boys, then sales for products like the Axiom are going to have to grow at far higher rates than seven international customers a month, and major hardware and software development is going to be needed for that. ®
100 new customers worldwide in 12 months - HP have added 100 new 3PAR customers in just the UK in the same period!
Re: Oracle had a storage business...
I wrote "joke" because Pillar only gained a handful customers in 10 years and was purchased by Oracle for nothing. A fire sale to prevent bankruptcy. Oracle is now treating it as a revolutionary technology that is growing rapidly.
Their IO QoS prioritization secret sauce was rendered unnecessary when the large wide stripers came in an delivered more than enough IO with no IO prioritization through a parallel IO architecture (XIV and Isilon for NAS). For those that wanted to prioritize volumes based on IO, even though it is generally not necessary in a parallel architecture, the auto-tiering approach won the day (Compellent and EMC).
Another Oracle numbers contradiction
According to Oracle, Exa is going to the moon and doubling every year. Storage is increasingly rapidly. Legacy Sparc stuff is growing. The only thing that isn't growing is x86 servers which they are intentionally ending, so who cares. Sun never sold very many x86 servers, $200 million per quarter at its peak. Oracle's overall hardware has dropped from $2.1 billion per quarter (Sun's 2008 numbers) to $900 million a quarter, so it has dropped in more than half. They also claim that Exa is over a billion per year or over $250 million per quarter. Pillar was a piddly $25-30 million per quarter prior to the Oracle acquisition.... so legacy Sun is about $600 million per quarter... or about 1/4th the size it was in 2008, which is also demonstrated in Oracle's audit financials. In their marketing department's financials, everything is booming.