The one hundredth customer was signed by Pillar Data a few weeks ago, rapidly followed by 101, 102 - Emulex - and 103. The company has opened up its European centre at Drogheda near Dublin, Eire, and has moved its UK office from the relative wilds of the Thames Valley, meaning Reading, to Lombard Street in the heart of the City of London.

Software suite
A new approach to its software will be unveiled this month, one of having an integrated software suite. As before software will be licensed one time with no re-licensing needed as a Pillar Axiom system scales.

However the previous monolithic software license approach will be changed to a modular one with individually licensable elements. Among these will be :-

- a Virtual Tape Library based on FalconStor software
- Continuous Data Protection, also a third-party technology
- Replication of data across a WAN from one Axiom to another.

The replication functionality exists and is shipping already; it hasn't been announced yet.

Also in June, the predicted Fibre Channel disk support will arrive, meaning Pillar will be able to offer data tiering across two types and disk as well as across up to four Quality of Service levels on one type of disk. We might envisage two kinds of brick - Pillar's term for its disk arrays - a SATA brick and a Fibre Channel disk brick with differential pricing.

The Quality of Service capability is also going to be separately branded, defined, and priced.

Russ Kennedy, a senior director for marketing and strategy, said: "We're ascribing value to what we do from a software perspective. It's part of our pricing and quoting mechanism. The previously single operating system license will bet split into sub-licenses for components. We'll set prices for each component."

Incidentally Russ Kennedy is another ex-Sun DMG (StorageTek) staffer who has joined Pillar. Pillar has over 70 positions open on a recruitment list and has a development centre in Longmont, Colorado, not too far from the Sun DMG facility in the Boulder area.

Perhaps some more Sun DMG people will follow Brenda Zawatski, Chris Drago and Russ Kennedy.

Smaller Axiom
Later this year, possibly in September, a smaller Axiom system will be announced. It will be positioned for the mid-market and sold through the channel.

It will be smaller in terms of capacity than the current product but will otherwise have the same functions and features as its big brother. The software components described above will be optional and charged for individually.

This announcement will also see 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel supported.

Drive power-down is a likely 2007 announcement.

Marketing director Chris Drago mentioned that disk utilisation runs at 70-80 percent in customer installations. That means customers need less disk capacity in an Axiom system than they would in other products which typically have a 20-30 percent utilisation.

Kennedy said that because an Axiom system uses its own storage then moving data from one tier of storage (defined in quality of service terms) to another is not as risky as moving it from one platform to another, such as from an EMC Symmetrix to Clariion or to a TagmaStore array from HDS.

Both confirmed that Pillar's overall aim is to reduce customer storage costs and decrease a customer's storage complexity compared to competitors such as EMC and NetApp.

Pillar distinguishes itself from competitors such as Isilon and 3PAR by saying that it offers both storage area networking (SAN), EMC's strength, and network-attached storage (NAS), NetApp's core strength, from one system with inherent tiers of storage service.

Competitors need, Pillar claims, physically separate storage silos for different tiers or classes of storage service.

Drago asserted that Pillar had a record last quarter in the UK from a sales point of view.