Oracle to Buy Pillar Data Systems, Adding to Storage Portfolio

Oracle has agreed to acquire Pillar Data Systems, a provider of scalable SAN Block I/O storage systems. The acquisition will help Oracle deliver a complete line of storage products that runs Oracle software faster and more efficiently, the company said.

Oracle president Mark Hurd and John Fowler, executive vice president of Systems at Oracle, followed up the announcement with a webcast last week in which they elaborated on Oracle's storage strategy and the importance of the capabilities that Pillar adds. They were joined by Phil Bullinger, senior vice president, Storage, at Oracle.

Setting the context for the significance of the acquisition, Hurd noted that the high rate of data growth requires a more integrated approach to applications, data and storage in order to achieve the levels of performance that businesses and individuals demand.  "The amount of data on the planet will double over the next 4 years. Digitization of that data is doubling every 18 months. It is creating massive amounts of information which is putting pressure on all of you as customers and partners to figure out what to do with it."

Added to that is a generation of people that want access to that data 24 by 7 and want it instantaneously, as well as the mobility factor, and increased security requirements  and the situation only becomes more complicated, Hurd explained.

Architecturally, the world has evolved where applications, data and storage have been separated and all of this contention for data and for information is going to require a more tight alignment between application, data and storage, Hurd said. "Therefore, you will see a paradigm shift in how all of this works. The tightest level of integration possible is required to give you optimal performance."  Customers will see Oracle work on integration, tightening theintegration between the data set and the storage itself and optimizing that through more efficiency, while also placing a strong focus on security.

In the storage world there is an "incredibly demanding range of usages and environments," observed Fowler.  With the Pillar acquisition, Oracle has a complete portfolio to build storage that snaps into existing environments, Fowler said.  "We completely believe in this concept of unified storage so that you can go into an existing environment and work with applications that you have today and other storage and servers that you have today, but at the same time we are enhancing the technology all through the application, database, OS, and storage stack."

Highlighting the advantages of Pillar's Axiom platform, Bullinger said it is fundamentally application-aware, provides dynamic, deterministic resource allocation, is highly scalable and efficient, as well as easy to deploy by customers.  The reason that the acquisition is so important to Oracle is that it "perfectly matches" the strategy of Oracle's storage business which is first and foremost to deliver storage products that run Oracle software better, said Bullinger.  "This platform allows us to innovate in forms of data compression, streamlined data movement between applications, database, compute and storage nodes." It is a "great architecture" to deliver on the value proposition and it is a best-of-breed product, he added.

With Pillar Axiom, Oracle now "has a SAN product servicing the largest segment of the external storage market that is uniquely suited to the strategy and direction that Oracle is taking its business," said Bullinger. It is also very complementary to the Exadata platform for database, the ZFS storage appliance in the NAS segment, and to Oracle's tape products, he noted.

Founded in 2001, Pillar Data Systems is majority owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.  The company has 600 customers in 24 countries and is headquartered in San Jose, California. The evaluation and negotiation of the transaction was led by an independent committee of Oracle's board of directors. The transaction, which is expected to close this month, is structured as a 100% earn-out acquisition with no up-front payment.

"With this platform, in addition to the other elements of our portfolio, we are actively working now to expand our portfolio of offerings, integrated application and storage offerings  that run Oracle software faster and more efficiently than any other platform," said Bullinger.

A replay of the Oracle storage strategy webcast is available on the Oracle site.