An appearance in Gartner's magic quadrant can unlock significant sales potential for suppliers. Pillar Data has just been awarded entry into a Gartner magic quadrant. In effect the company has been given the GMQ seal of approval. I'm told by people close to the situation that up to 40 percent of customer companies addressed by Pillar sales reps have a GMQ rating on their RFPs. Vendors won't make it past the first cut of suppliers unless they appear in the relevant GMQ.

The magic quadrant is the top right-hand box of a seemingly classic consultant's 4-box diagram. The two axes are completeness of vision and ability to execute. Going around the four boxes from the top left, the box titles are: challengers; leaders; visionaries; and niche players. The leader's box is the top right-hand one, the magic quadrant to be in.

Gartner analysts take a great deal of time to investigate and understand a supplier's capabilities, looking at far more than product capabilities and roadmap. I'm told a 34-page document was sent to Gartner by Pillar in answer to Gartner questions, also that the most senior staff at Pillar were involved in responding to Gartner queries.

The effect of this upgrade in Pillar's status could be a substantial upgrade in Pillar's sales opportunities. It may be facing an up to 30 percent increase in its addressable sales opportunity in 2007; that's just how influential a GMQ rating can be.

I'm also told that Pillar is the fastest-ever company to make a GMQ rating, measuring from its very first product ship, in February 2005.

Another unusual fact about Pillar is that it is not in any hurry to have an IPO, despite its growth being fast enough for an IPO to be theoretically possible in the next few years. That's because Larry Ellison is not the usual relatively short-sighted venture capitalist wanting a profitable exit from initial investment before five years is up. He wants a billion dollar company and Mike Workman, Pillar's CEO is determined to build one.

As part of that product development is continuing apace. The company is confident that its Axiom products are up with the leaders in terms of good power/electricity consumption ratios. This is helped by the high utilisation rates seen on an Axiom array's disks compared to ordinary drive arrays from the likes of EMC, IBM, HDS and so on.

Pillar is also conscious that data centre space is at a premium and is working to enhance the space efficiency of its products so that more storage can be packed into less space. Something quite significant, very significant even, could be forthcoming here. Thin provisioning, a 3Par marketing key point, may also feature on the roadmap.

There is an impressive tier of young, fresh and hungry storage vendors behind the front rank of EMC, NetApp, IBM, HP, HDS and Sun. Think of 3Par, Acopia, Isilon and Pillar. Pillar's progress continues to impress. The GMQ award is notable, not only for recognition of what Pillar has achieved so far, but also in terms of its prospects for the future. Perhaps there will be an interesting change in storage supplier rankings based on revenues towards the end of next year.