Chris Butler, CTO of online market research firm I/PRO, which bought an Axiom NAS system last May, told Byte and Switch that the device has replaced an EMC symmetric box, five NetApp 760s, and a NetApp 880 machine, successfully shaving hundreds of thousands of dollars off his annual IT support costs.
"The support costs were outrageously high for those boxes. Next day support was costing me about $10,000 a month," he explains. Although Butler would not reveal exactly how much he has spent with Pillar, he says that the startup's support costs are "significantly less."
For the time being, Butler says Pillar is more than adequate for I/PRO's needs. The firm currently stores 20 Tbytes of data on its Axiom system, a figure which is likely to double within the next 12 months, he adds.
Over in the U.K, Pete Lethbridge, head of IT at Insight Investment, the asset management arm of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), told Byte and Switch that he is in the process of replacing two SANs from HDS with a single Axiom box. "Hopefully it will be easier to manage. Whenever we wanted to work with the HDS kit, we had to get an expert in," he says. "What we found was that it was quite costly to maintain."
The exec notes that Axiom offers "the flexibility to dynamically allocate space without having to reconfigure servers."
The Axiom systems consist of up to four "slammers," which are controllers for connecting to disks, linked via embedded switches from Emulex. The startup refers to its RAID enclosures as "bricks" and the controllers that host its management software as "pilots." The software, which contains over 2.5 million lines of code, manages system resources to provide multiple quality-of-service (QOS) levels from a single storage pool.
Can slammers, bricks, and pilots ensure success for this well-heeled firm? That is, the kind of success it's aiming for?
At least one analyst thinks it is possible. Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst of The StorageIO Group , says Pillar's efforts to pay its way into the storage market are not without precedent. "If you go back into the early 1990s, most people barely knew of EMC," he explains. "They came out with a technology, put a marketing strategy around it, and it's now legend.”