Ellison's storage Pillar sits at fork in the road

Finance, founding and two choices


More controllers may be needed

This is where we can get busy surmising again because no more architectural details were revealed. It seems to me that Paso controllers are busy running Pasos and that there might need to be a second level of controller, controlling the Pasos and presenting them as a single storage system. So we would have these Slammers, presumably reinvented ones, with the 12TB of cache, as the main controllers, linking across the IB fabric to the individual Paso string controllers which talk to their local Bricks. Perhaps these main controllers are in fact Brick-less Paso controllers? We'll have to wait and see.

The vision is that Paso can be upgraded to Napa with the addition of an IB fabric being a necessary part of that.

Workman said that none of today's storage controllers had been designed with SSDs in mind. Because of this they are poor at handling SSDs, limiting the number of realisable IOPS from them. Both Napa and Paso are being designed with SSDs in mind. EMC and every storage vendor have to redesign their storage controllers to take full advantage of SSDs. NetApp is facing problems and that's why it stopped after adding PAM accelerator cards to its controllers. Adding SSDs in the storage enclosures is causing it heavy problems in his view.

He said that a Napa with SSDs should cost 80 per cent less in $/GB terms than an Axiom 600 with SSDs.

Napa will extend the Axiom range at the high-end and Paso will do the same at the low-end. A whole lot of high-end features should be coming because of the new HW, with replication engines being mentioned.

The level of detail here was quite surprising - no one had to sign non-disclosure agreements and Workman livened up his presentation with salty, pithy comments about other suppliers and technologies. If you read his blog you get the flavour. Napa and Paso are not products. They are development directions. It's my understanding that the existing products have developments planned for them too.

Pillar is serving notice on its various constituencies of customers, channel partners and its competitors that it is no Copan or StorSpeed. Larry is not impatient for a return on his investment. He wants to build an 800lb storage gorilla that can stand on its IPO feet or else get bought by a vendor who uses its technology to replace entire swathes of its storage product lines.

Workman breeds wiener (dachshund) dogs but he has more of a pit bull type product technology in mind. Wiener arrays won't cut it, not with today's data growth and SSD technologies. To cope with those you need the 800lb gorilla canine and Workman hopes that Paso and Napa are two dogs that will worry the heck out of the storage supplier sheep out there. ®

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