In the past, much has been spoken about the convergence of storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) technologies. While this can never happen – after all, they are different technologies – there is a move on the part of vendors to provide SAN and NAS storage within a single box. One vendor that has produced such a system is Pillar Data Systems.
Pillar Data Systems’ Axiom Storage systems provide networked storage with a high degree of flexibility, enabling organizations to deploy SAN- or NAS-based systems, or a combination of the two, in addition to having multiple tiers of storage on a single platform. This has advantages over the traditional approach to storage in that it provides a single point of control, and also a single storage pool, which can be shared among both SAN- and NAS-based storage. It also includes the management software, which allows administrators to create policies to manage service levels and ensure that the expected quality of service is delivered.
One of the differentiators claimed by Pillar Data Systems is that multiple tiers of storage and different types of storage architecture can reside together under a single software license, which, in times of budget reductions, has to be seen as an advantage.
Within the system, storage can be configured with high, medium, low, and archive priorities with resources automatically applied to fit the requirements of the application, and to maximize utilization of the available assets. Data is arranged on the disks according to the performance required. High-priority data is written on the outermost tracks, which also speeds up retrieval. Lower performance data is placed on the inner tracks.
One of the differentiators for Pillar Data Systems is that the software is included with the Axiom product. The AxiomONE software incorporates a single graphical user interface (GUI) for all of the array management tools and includes features such as continuous data protection and virtual tape. There is also capacity management, which provides capacity planning based on historical data by volume, file system, or application, and there is also a WORM file system for compliance.
Pillar Data Systems targets its product at the mid market and competes with NetApp, EMC, and HDS. With offices in the US and Europe, it is establishing a customer-base on both sides of the Atlantic.
It is always difficult for a start-up to break into an established market and build a large market share. To succeed, a start-up has to be innovative and be able to differentiate itself from its more established competitors, either by taking existing technologies and developing them to create innovative features, or by developing a new technology and becoming a market leader. Pillar Data Systems has chosen the former path, and by combining SAN and NAS in the same box, and incorporating management software, the company has differentiated itself. It has, in effect, taken an appliance approach to storage.
Many start-ups that have innovative technology are acquired by larger vendors once they have developed the product to a certain level and built up a sizeable market share. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison must have had this in mind when he invested in the company. Indeed, it looks like Pillar Data Systems will give all of its larger competitors a run for their money with its black box approach, and it would be a good acquisition target for any of them.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)