Hitachi Scales Storage Virtualization For The Midrange

storage virtualization

The Hitachi Universal Storage Platform VM, unveiled on Monday, is a smaller-scale version of its USP V, which was unveiled in May.

Both the USP VM and the USP V have their roots in HDS's USP TagmaStore, which the vendor introduced in September of 2004.

Like the USP V, the USP VM includes thin provisioning, which allows a storage administrator to allocate more capacity to a specific application or user than is physically available under the assumption that not all those applications and users will need the entire allocated space simultaneously. This allows extra physical capacity to be installed at a later date as the total amount of space actually used approached the storage device's capacity.

Both also virtualize storage in one or two ways. They can carve internal storage capacity up into virtual LUNs, and/or act as the front end to a virtual storage pool consisting of storage arrays from most vendors connected behind the appliance.

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The new USP V can have up to 72 Tbytes of internal storage capacity, compared to a maximum of 332 Tbytes for the USP V, said Claus Mikkelsen, HDS's chief scientist. The USP VM can also virtualize up to 96 Pbytes of heterogeneous external storage compared to the USP V's 247 Pbytes, he said.

The USP VM has only about one-sixth the internal bandwidth of the USP V, or 13.3 Gbytes per second, and about one-third the performance. However, it uses standard 220VAC power, making it easy to use for midrange customers, Mikkelsen said.

With no internal storage, it lists for $60,000, not including the software license, compared to about $250,000 for the entry-level version of the USP V with five hard drives, Mikkelsen said.

Which model to use depends both on a customer's current needs and how it plans to grow, Mikkelsen said. "If the customer expects big growth in the next three years, which is how storage is typically leased, the USP V is better for expansion," he said. "For customers bridging the midrange and entry-level enterprise size, the USP VM is a good choice."

The price is certainly right, said Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based HDS solution provider. "You're bringing enterprise functionality down to the midrange," Kadlec said.

While the USP VM may not be able to compare to the USP V in terms of bandwidth and performance, Kadlec said that for the price it is a great solution for a wide range of solution providers who have been looking for way to compete against storage virtualization offerings from second-tier vendors like 3PAR, Fremont, Calif.; Pillar Data Systems, San Jose, Calif.; or Isilon Systems, Seattle.

"We've had those vendors walk through our doors to discuss partnering with us," Kadlec said. "Customers say they've been looking at these storage virtualization companies, and they are asking when Hitachi will do something like this."

The USP VM is an opportunity to go back to those customers with a new alternative, Mikkelsen said. "There are a lot of customers you can call back and say, remember what we were talking about before. . . . " he said.

Sun Microsystems, which has a long-running reseller agreement with HDS, on Monday also unveiled its version of the USP VM. For Sun solution providers, it is called the Sun StorageTek 9985V Enterprise Storage System.

Hewlett-Packard, which has been OEMing its high-end XP series of arrays from HDS for several years, on Monday also unveiled its version of the USP VM, which it calls the HP StorageWorks XP20000 Disk Array.