Ellison's storage start-up hits Europe

Pillar Data Systems aims to shake up the storage market and is backed by Larry Ellison's deep pockets

Aiming to combine the worlds of SAN and NAS, brash start-up Pillar Data Systems had its European launch in the UK at Storage Expo on Wednesday.

The company, set-up by Larry Ellison's venture capital company, offers a new kind of system called Axiom that will challenge both NAS suppliers like Net Apps and SAN vendors like EMC.

"It shouldn't be a big decision, whether you go with SAN or NAS," Pillar's chairman and chief executive, Mike Workman, told ZDNet UK, "and with Axiom it doesn't have to be".

Pillar's Axiom systems are designed to work across different storage architectures while remaining cost effective. The secret, according to Workman, is in both the software and the hardware.

"We have over three million lines of code in the software and we use industry-standard components from companies like Dell", he said. "That means we can do things like having a 3 Gigabyte cache. A couple of years ago, you would have found a 3 Gigabyte cache useful but expensive. Now it is affordable".

The investment in software resulted in an interface that is "very easy to use", according to Workman. "It works with any browser and works in a way that you just allocate the resources as you want. [The software] works out how to do it most cost effectively."

Pillar was set up three years ago with money from Ellison, Oracle's billionaire boss, and launched the Axion product as a NAS-only system in June. The NAS/SAN version launched in July.

The product's starting price is $50,000 and can climb to 10 times that price depending on the size and attributes of the system, the company said.