HDS Converged Infrastructure Offering Targets EMC, NetApp10:24 AM EST Tue. Oct. 09, 2012
Hitachi Data Systems is directly attacking storage rivals EMC and NetApp with converged infrastructure solutions that tie its storage with a choice of Hitachi or Cisco servers and Cisco or Brocade networking technology.
The new Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) is slated to be available in two versions, including a fully integrated version that directly competes with the VCE Vblock and a reference architecture that competes with EMC's VSPEX and NetApp's FlexPod offerings.
But regardless of which of the three top independent storage vendor customers choose for developing a converged infrastructure, Cisco is the only company that has ties to all three.
The Hitachi UCP also will compete against converged infrastructure offerings including IBM's PureSystems and Oracle's Exadata, said Ravi Chalaka, vice president of solutions marketing at Santa Clara, Calif.-based HDS.
For enterprises running mission-critical applications, HDS developed the Hitachi UCP Pro, a solution that combines the enterprise-class Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) with Hitachi's CB500 blade servers, Brocade networking technology, VMware vSphere virtualization software, and Hitachi's UCP Director management software.
The Hitachi UCP Pro scales to up to 8,000 virtual machines, and UCP Director is tightly integrated in VMware's vCenter software for management and orchestration of both physical and virtualized servers as well as virtual desktops, Chalaka said.
"This gives a unified view of the entire physical and virtual infrastructure," he said.
Like the VCE Vblock converged infrastructure offering from VCE, the Hitachi UCP Pro is available only as a completely integrated solution. Chalaka said the Hitachi UCP Pro will be completely assembled and tested at HDS facilities in Norman, Okla., before shipping to customers.
The second version is the Hitachi UCP Select reference architecture which, like EMC's VSPEX and NetApp's FlexPod offerings, can be integrated by solution providers either before shipping to customers or in the field.
The Hitachi UCP Select offers a choice of the Hitachi VSP or the Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) unified storage platform, Chalaka said.
Customers and their solution providers also can choose from either Hitachi or Cisco UCS servers, Cisco or Brocade networking gear, and VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization technology, he said.
NEXT: Hitachi UCP Pro vs. Hitachi UCP Select
The Hitachi UCP Pro is based on Hitachi's server technologies, while the Hitachi UCP Select offers a choice of Hitachi or Cisco servers.
Chalaka admitted that Hitachi servers, which have been very successful in the Japanese market, have so far made little or no headway in the U.S. market.
"The Hitachi servers are Intel-based and feature the latest technologies," he said. "And it's proven technology in banks and high-speed rail systems in Japan. And it has advanced capabilities that are not available from other Intel-based servers."
However, Chalaka said, U.S. adoption of the Hitachi servers will take time. "We have to convince customers to adopt Hitachi technology they are net yet familiar with," he said. "But for those who are not yet comfortable with Hitachi servers, they can use the Cisco servers."
Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime HDS partner, said his company was introduced to Hitachi servers about four years ago and took training in the technology.
However, Kadlec said, he is not sure Consiliant actually sold any of the servers, in large part because the company has been so focused on HDS' storage technology.
"We absolutely will talk to customers about Hitachi servers," he said. "With Hitachi UCP, it's a solution sale now, where before it was a product sale. This is putting the Hitachi servers with storage from Hitachi that is proven to be top-of-line. So it makes my job easier."
The Hitachi UCP offering also could bring Consiliant closer to Cisco and its Cisco UCS server line as well, Kadlec said.
"We stay with Hitachi storage," he said. "If they say they are going to work with Cisco, we will work with Cisco."
Paul Lidsky, president and CEO of Datalink, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based solution provider and HDS partner, said his company is looking forward to the Hitachi UCP Select offering, but will likely focus more on the Cisco version.
Datalink is already offering the FlexPod and VSPEX converged infrastructures and is now evaluating the Hitachi UCP Select technology, Lidsky said.
NEXT: Hitachi UCP Opportunities For The Channel
"It's very positive for Hitachi to enter into the unified computing marketplace," Datalink's Lidsky said. "We're seeing strong sales in this market. I think Hitachi's customers will want to look at alternatives from that vendor. Customers will drive the buying decision. The converged infrastructure market is not so crowded that customers won't not look at Hitachi-based solutions."
Ed Parolisi, vice president for infrastructure solutions, global partners, and alliances at HDS, said the Hitachi UCP solutions offer multiple opportunities for the company's solution provider partners.
While the Hitachi UCP Pro is completely integrated by HDS before shipping to customers, partners manage the final deployment at the customer site and deploy what Parolisi called the "last-mile" services.
With Hitachi UCP Select, solution providers can choose to build and deploy the solution, especially when Cisco servers are involved, as HDS is not reselling the Cisco servers, he said.
To offer the Hitachi UCP solutions, partners will need certifications and skill sets related to the customers' choice of operating system, hypervisor and applications, Parolisi said. However, HDS is adding a full suite of training, including storage, servers, networking and software, as part of its Hitachi Services Specialization Program, he said.
Eight new Hitachi UCP Pro and Hitachi UCP Select solutions based on a variety of mission-critical operations are available already, with two more slated to be ready to ship later this month. One other solution, based on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), is expected to be available by January, Chalaka said.
PUBLISHED OCT. 9, 2012