Posted by: Dave Raffo
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For a company known primarily for spending hundreds of millions of Larry Ellison’s Oracle bucks, the folks at Pillar Data have a good sense of humor.Take this video Pillar put together for its Application-Aware Storage release this week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Kx0w7fYx4
Funny. But I have a feeling that a lot of storage administrators might have similar reactions as those at the malls and McDonald’s did to Pillar’s claim that it’s the first to offer application-aware storage. Application awareness is helpful but not new in storage, let alone “game-changing,” as Pillar claimed when it announced it this week.
“Is this a new feature? Well, not for the industry, but certainly for Pillar,” said analyst Greg Schulz of The StorageIO Group. “Others have tried, including Sun. So for Pillar, it’s new and game-changing. For the industry, well, maybe game-changing for those who have not seen it before.”
But is it even new for Pillar? What Pillar describes in its release — writing scripts that assign an application to either the outside, middle or inside of the disks in a volume — was supposedly in their product from the start.
In his blog explaining Pillar’s application-aware storage, here’s how Pillar CEO Mike Workman describes it: “. . .application-awareness implies configuration of disk, but in the case of Pillar’s Axiom it also implies things like cache configuration, network bandwidth, CPU priority, and layout of data on the disk platters. In other words, all the system resources are tailored to the application — set up to make the application see the best possible disk attributes out of the resources in the array.”
Workman also writes that this is the approach Pillar took when it started shipping its Axiom systems 2-1/2 years ago.
Pillar customer Greg Thayer, director of IT at voice data network provider Comm-Works, says application awareness was a key part of why he bought a Pillar system last September. “It was a compelling reason for us,” he said. “I can characterize my data by what is the most important information that users access, and that goes on the outside of the disk where things are spinning more often.”
But why is Pillar trumpeting a feature that it’s had from the start? Cynics in the industry say the company is trying to generate buzz because of stalled sales. Pillar has watched less funded storage system vendors Compellent and 3Par go public and Dell scoop up EqualLogic for $1.4 billion. For Ellison’s $300 million or so investment, Pillar claims 300 customers — which means it has spent at least $1 million per customer.
Still, let’s hope Pillar sticks around. No other storage company is running videos on YouTube that are nearly as interesting.
It certainly beats watching this guy carry on about server virtualization conspiracies.