Larry Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of Oracle, is backing a secretive storage company with $100 million in funding.

Pillar Data Systems Corp has received the investment from Lawrence Investments, a company backed by Ellison, said a Pillar spokesman. The investment company has only provided a portion of the $100 million thus far, but Pillar expects to receive the remaining amount over time.

"A certain amount has already been put into the company, and there is a solid, strong commitment through Lawrence Investments," the spokesman said.

Pillar Data Systems, which employs 175 employees, is working on both storage hardware and software for SANs (storage area networks) and NAS (network-attached storage) environments. However, the company will not provide any details on what the products entail at this time. It plans to launch its first product in late 2003 or early 2004, the spokesman said.

Five years after taking the position, Ellison quit his seat on Apple's board of directors in September 2002. At the time he explained that this was because his schedule left him unable to attend enough board meetings.

Ellison's investment in Pillar Data Systems eclipses his starting funds when he launched Oracle. That company was launched with $2,000 in 1979.