IBM, HDS Attempt To Steal EMC's Thunder

Hitachi Data Systems Wednesday introduced enhancements to capacity and throughput to its Lightning 9900 V array.

IBM, meanwhile, is expected on Monday to unveil software and performance enhancements to its Shark Enterprise Storage Server model 800.

EMC called a news conference for this Monday to discuss new products. Most industry observers expect the company to unveil its Symmetrix 6, the long-delayed replacement for its high-end storage array line and the company's hope to regain some of the market share it has lost to Hitachi and IBM.

Starting early next month, Hitachi's 9900 V arrays will be available with 146-Gbyte hard drives, effectively doubling the raw capacity of the array to up to 148 Tbytes, with usable capacity of up to 128 Tbytes in a RAID-5 configuration.

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The company is also increasing the 9900 V's connectivity by offering up to 32 FICON channels and 64 Fibre Channel connections. The arrays also now feature what the company terms Virtual Storage Ports. These ports enable 128 different server platforms or operating systems to access a single 2-Gbps Fibre Channel port, which in turn enables support for 4,096 servers.

The changes are aimed at easing the consolidation of multiple storage devices into a single larger, more reliable array, said Phil Townsend, senior director of product marketing at Hitachi.

The scalability of the 9900 V helps overcome four barriers to consolidation, said Townsend. These barriers include having the capacity needed to meet customer growth requirements, having the performance needed to prevent bottlenecks in storage networks, making sure the malfunction of a single storage device doesn't lead to a serious failure and manageability.

Hank Johnson, vice president of the Infrastructure Solutions Group at Stonebridge Technologies, a Dallas-based solution provider and partner of both Hitachi and Sun, said Hitachi really knows how to make hardware and is now pushing the market with increasing software abilities as well. "I like what I see," he said. "I'm very enthusiastic."

Like many other storage solution providers, Stonebridge does its own implementation and configuration services on Hitachi's midrange arrays but leaves such services to Hitachi for the company's high-end 9900 V, Johnson said.

"Hitachi's services are good for the clients, and good for us," Johnson said. "Customers feel better having a vendor like Hitachi come in on the high-end storage."

For its part, IBM next week plans to add industry-standard "Bluefin" compatibility to its Shark arrays to make them more compatible with multivendor storage networks, said Jim Tuckwell, marketing executive for Shark products at IBM.

The new Sharks will also be enhanced with 73-Gbyte, 15,000-rpm hard drives, which will boost performance, said Tuckwell.

The product will also come with extended Linux support for customers that use that operating system on IBM's zSeries or S/390 mainframes, Tuckwell said. Such support includes open-systems advanced copy and disaster-recovery functions.

Also new is a Fibre Channel attachment for Irix-based servers from Silicon Graphics.