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Wednesday, 23 April 2014 16:26

HDS reveals new storage strategy and products


Hitachi Data Systems is staking a claim for a key role in connecting organisations' data and applications with the announcement of a new strategy and new or updated products to begin turning the strategy into reality.

Hitachi Data Systems, traditionally seen as a hardware vendor, is moving further into the software space with the announcement of its 'Business Defined IT' concept.

The idea is to link an organisation's business and IT objectives more closely, in part by making data centres more available, automated and agile.

As part of this shift, HDS storage virtualisation is being offered as a standalone software product rather than being tied to the company's hardware. Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) can double the life of hardware architectures, company officials claimed.

Features include optimisation for flash storage, advanced storage virtualisation, automated tiering, non-disruptive data migration. New in SVOS is appliance-free support for multi-system and multi-datacentre active-active capabilities.

SVOS is Hitachi's foundation for software-defined infrastructure, said vice president and chief engineer Michael Hay, provides a layer between new and future storage servers and applications. Templates are provided for running products from Microsoft, VMware, SAP, Oracle, Citrix and OpenStack, among others.

HDS' longer-term vision includes SVOS running on selected hardware from other storage companies, he added. But "the selection of parts matters," he noted, pointing to a recent announcement that HDS can run certain SAP software five times faster than competing vendors, but with half as many cores and half as much memory.

At some stage it may be possible to run SVOS on say IBM storage and Dell servers, he said, but this will take time: "Stay tuned," said Mr Hay.

Please read on for more details of HDS' product and strategy announcements.

Alongside SVOS, the company announced the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) G1000 (pictured), which is the first system supporting native SVOS deployment.

VSP G1000 configurations can be scaled to deliver block-storage throughput in excess of 3M IOPS, over 48GBps of "usable" bandwidth, and over 1.2M NFS operations per second.

The G1000 "starts small and grows up big" to deliver industry-leading performance, said Mr Hay.

A given level of performance can be achieved with fewer than one-tenth of the number of nodes required by competitors' systems, he claimed.

"It's really a performance screamer" that can be tuned by varying the number of ports or processors to suit the requirements of particular applications.

The G1000 "runs hot" at temperatures of up to 40 degrees, reducing cooling requirements, and is also 10% more power efficient than its predecessor, he said.

HDS has also focused on easing migrations. Some customers are in a permanent state of migrating one system or another, so the new products make provision for in-place upgrades, and - when the time does come for hardware replacement - nondisruptive migration to the new equipment.

Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) and Unified Computer Platform Director have been updated to support VSP G1000 and SVOS, along with a new entry-level configuration of UCP for VMware vSphere. UCP Director 3.5 also includes server profiling for simplified provisioning and enhanced disaster recovery.

Page 3 - "socially innovative solutions".

Similarly, Hitachi Command Suite (HCS) handles the new global storage virtualisation features of SVOS, and sports a new user interface plus a common REST API across the platform.

HDS senior vice president and general manager APAC Neville Vincent explained that today's announcements represents the unveiling of the company's new strategy plus the first building blocks towards making it a reality.

"Hitachi is looking to make a difference" in a changing world by delivering "socially innovative solutions" in various fields including telecommunications, energy and healthcare. Hitachi is uniquely placed to do this because the corporation operates in so many sectors.

Possibilities include linking earthquake sensors to trains in order to improve passenger safety, improving medical diagnoses through better record keeping, reducing emissions through better traffic management, and improving public safety by being able to process 36 million images in a second in order to locate wanted individuals.

"We're providing integrated applications [and] cloud services," he said. "Hitachi's mandate is to make a difference" and the recent integration of HDS with the Hitachi's platform division means it is now able to compete directly with the likes of ABB, GE, and Siemens.

Business-defined IT is first of many announcements, Mr Vincent explained. It represents the infrastructure part of Hitachi's plans, and future announcements across multiple industries will build upon it.

Senior vice president for global verticals and integration Kevin Eggleston hinted at things to come when he said the Internet of Things - "the next industrial revolution" - is becoming a reality with 50 billion connected items expected by 2020.

This will provide "brand new opportunities... for enterprises" but also means "an extraordinary explosion of information" that IT operations will have to deal with.

Disclosure: the writer travelled to Singapore as the guest of HDS.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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