Pillar puts SSDs in Axiom arrays

By Kevin Komiega

-- Pillar Data Systems has joined the ranks of vendors now offering support for solid-state disk (SSD) drives across its line of enterprise storage arrays.

The company today announced a new set of SSD Bricks – Pillar's nomenclature for drive enclosures. The SSD Bricks include 12 64GB Intel X25-E Extreme SATA SSDs for 768GB of raw capacity, with one drive functioning as a hot spare. Pillar's Axiom 500, 600 and 600MC systems can support up to four SSD bricks per controller, as well as intermixed SATA and SSD drive configurations.

Pillar's Axiom arrays are comprised of "Slammers" and "Bricks." which are the systems' respective controllers and capacity building blocks. The Slammer controllers feature a dual-processor architecture, automatic fail-over, redundant power supplies and battery-backed cache. Each Slammer controls a given set of SATA, Fibre Channel or SSD storage Bricks.

Pillar's vice president of marketing, Bob Maness, says SSDs offer a significant performance advantage over SATA and Fibre Channel drives, but that customers still equate SSDs with inflated price tags.

"Most people think SSDs are too pricy, but the other way of looking at it is as a consolidation point. You can actually get rid of certain technologies in favor of SSDs," says Maness.

For example, a single SSD brick can replace the performance of about five Fibre Channel bricks in the Axiom system, resulting in roughly five times the performance with an 85% reduction in power consumption, according to Maness.

Another obstacle to mass adoption of SSD drives has been manual provisioning and management, an often error-prone process. Maness says Pillar's Quality of Service (QoS) technology automates the process.

The Axiom system allows an administrator to prioritize the data by defining an application type and its associated value through a drop-down menu. The system then automatically tunes itself to deliver differentiated storage service levels based on the business priority of each application. Those storage service levels include determining whether to write data to SSDs, Fibre Channel or SATA drives.

Pillar has yet to reveal pricing details for the SSD Bricks, which will be available in about three months.

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This article was originally published on March 09, 2009