Hitachi Data Systems Aims New Arrays, Software At EMC

Looks to Sun, HP, direct sales, channel for help

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Hitachi Data Systems on Tuesday used the Networld+Interop 2002 show to take the wraps off its latest weapon in its war with storage rival EMC--two new storage arrays and a new software emphasis company officials expect to help HDS take the No. 1 spot away from EMC.

On the hardware side, HDS unveiled the Freedom Storage 9970V, a single cabinet device which uses 73-Gbyte hard drives to scale up to about nine Tbytes of capacity with a 7.5-Gbyte bandwidth.

Another device, the 9980V, allows up to five cabinets to be connected into an array of over 75 Tbytes of capacity and a 15-Gbyte bandwidth, said Jim Beckman, director of product marketing at the vendor.

Both arrays offer 2-Gbit-per-second Fibre Channel capability. The 9980V comes with 32 Fibre Channel ports, while the 9970V comes with 24 ports. The port count for both will double by the third quarter of this year, Beckman said. They both also offer FICON and ESCON support and by year-end will have NAS connectivity and iSCSI blade options.

They also allow storage pools to be virtualized within the arrays, Beckman said. This pooling, combined with the high port count, will enable storage from multiple arrays to be consolidated on a single array to ease management, he said. "Customers will be able to consolidate their storage infrastructures into these arrays," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard executives said HP will OEM the new arrays, and Sun Microsystems executives said Sun will resell them. HDS' solution providers, as well as its direct sales force, will have immediate access to them as well.

The current 9910 and 9960 arrays from HDS are expected to be available at least through the end of 2002, Beckman said. The 9960 can be field-upgraded to the 9980V, he said.

Also on Tuesday, HDS unveiled version 2.1 of its HiCommand storage management software. The new version offers increased performance compared with the previous version and adds support for the new arrays, said Steve East, vice president for storage integration at HDS.

Version 2.1 includes a function called MyStorage, which allows storage administrators access to specific areas within the array, compared to automatically having access to the entire array as it was in the past, said East. "We don't want an administrator to accidentally affect other peoples' storage," he said.

HiCommand is the foundation for TrueNorth, which East said is HDS' vision of how storage should be managed in a heterogeneous fashion. Over time, True North is expected to include storage management software suites, new device drivers, and new technology including virtualization from HDS's recently announced alliance with IBM, he said.

The TrueNorth framework is based on industry standards, the Common Information Model (CIM), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), the eXtensible Markup Language (XML), and a policy-based automation module, company executives said. A message bus based on the CIM/SOAP standards allows plug-and-play between HDS arrays and ISVs, they said.

Jim Quasius, president of GCA, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Sun and HDS solution provider, said HDS is really on the ball with its new products. "They were already ahead of everybody else, and now they're taking another step away from the pack," he said.

Kip Lindberg, vice president of enterprise sales at Ncell Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based Sun and HDS solution provider, said the new HDS products will help move his clients to converge their NAS and SAN infrastructures.

However, Lindberg said, it is still too early to talk to clients about virtualization. "You may find bleeding-edge people out there, but some of my big clients are still thinking about the difference between SAN and NAS."

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