Oracle Plans To Acquire Larry Ellison's Pillar Data


Oracle on Wednesday said it plans to acquire Pillar Data Systems, a provider of scalable SAN block storage systems owned primarily by Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison.

The unveiling of the planned acquisition comes just one day before Oracle President Mark Hurd and Oracle Executive Vice President of Systems John Fowler were scheduled to provide updates about Oracle's storage strategies.

Pillar Data's Axiom storage array line provides application-aware unified SAN and NAS capabilities, and scales both in terms of performance by adding additional storage controllers and NAS, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI modules, and in terms of capacity through additional storage modules.

Pillar Data is owned primarily by Ellison through his investment arm.

Oracle's acquisition of Pillar Data is expected to help the company fill out its storage line, a part of the business where Oracle, and Sun Microsystems before it, was traditionally weak.

Oracle early last year closed its acquisition of Sun, a move which brought it a full line of servers along with Sun's NAS storage line and tape library business. However, Sun had not developed a strong block SAN storage business, and was a long-term reseller of SAN storage arrays from Hitachi Data Systems. Oracle ended the HDS agreement two months after closing the Sun acquisition.

The acquisition of Pillar Data, in addition to filling out Oracle's storage offering, provides Oracle the opportunity to integrate block SAN storage with its other technologies.

Since it's acquisition of Sun, Oracle has moved quickly to integrate its software and hardware into complete appliance-like offerings while stepping away from offering its hardware as a separate product line.

In a presentation made available to the press, Oracle stated that it is "critical for Oracle to own a proprietary storage asset, especially for building engineered systems," and that the company will optimize the Pillar Data storage offering to work with its software.

However, it remains to be seen whether Oracle will cut sales of the Pillar Data storage arrays for non-Oracle software-related purposes as it did with its Sun hardware.

In an open letter to customers signed by Fowler, Oracle stated that Pillar Data has sold over 1,500 of its Axiom storage systems to 600 customers worldwide. "The combination of Oracle and Pillar's products are expected to help Oracle deliver to customers a complete line of storage products that runs Oracle software faster and more efficiently than traditional storage products. Customers can optimize the value of their Oracle applications, database, middleware and operating system software by running on Oracle's storage solutions," Fowler wrote.

In an open letter to solution providers, Judson Althoff, Oracle's senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels, wrote repeated much of the wording in Fowler's letter, but also added information about his company's partner program and storage specializations.

The acquisition is slated to close in July. Oracle did not say how much it plans to pay for Pillar Data.