HDS Plans Assault On Cisco With Unified Storage-Server-Networking Platform


HDS on Monday said it plans to tie storage, server, and networking technology into a centrally-orchestrated offering early next year with the help of Microsoft, an unnamed networking vendor, and parent company Hitachi.

The company also said it has signed an OEM deal with Microsoft under which it will distribute Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, and Microsoft System Center suite on a worldwide basis.

Linda Xu, director of product marketing for file and content services at HDS, said that her company plans compete with other vendors offering unified computing platforms.

Xu specifically mentioned the alliance of VMware, Cisco, and EMC as a primary competitor. EMC is HDS' arch rival in the storage market, and Cisco is moving forward on plans to bring its Unified Computing System (UCS) platform, which combines networking, blade servers, and storage in a single architecture.

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Xu, however, declined to refer to Hewlett-Packard as a potential competitor, despite HP's move to tie server, storage, and networking resources into what it refers to as converged computing. As part of that strategy, HP on Monday closed its acquisition of networking vendor 3Com.

HP and HDS have a long-term relationship under which HP OEMs its flagship XP line of storage arrays from HDS. Xu declined to comment on how HDS' unified compute platform might impact that relationship.

"We haven't seen the details of a sellable package from HP," she said. "We haven't seen a clearly defined roadmap."

When it rolls out early next year, HDS' unified compute platform will include the company's USP-V family of virtual storage appliances to handle the storage side.

On the server side, the platform will initially include Hitachi blade servers. Hitachi has been selling its blade servers successfully in Japan for years, and has been making them available on a limited basis in North America through channel partners for a few years, Xu said.

However, unlike Cisco or other potential competitors, HDS' unified compute platform will also work with other x86-based servers via the company's orchestration technology, which will manage multi-vendor servers in conjunction with off-the-shelf technology such as server virtualization hypervisors and Microsoft's System Center, she said.

On the networking side, Xu said HDS is working with a couple of data networking partners, and will disclose more information as it gets closer to the release of its new platform.

That networking partner could very well be Brocade Communications, said Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and HDS partner.

HDS and Brocade are already very entrenched with each other, Kadlec said. Furthermore, Brocade, which has traditionally been the primary vendor of storage networking equipment, got a solid IP networking business with its acquisition in late 2008 of Foundry, he said.

"That's especially important when talking about unified computing," he said.

Kadlec called HDS' plans to enter the unified computing business an exciting move because of a growing preference by customers to look for a single source for technology.

"If someone can buy a complete solution put together by one vendor, as long as the price is competitive, it's good for a company like Consiliant," he said. "Hitachi's field service people do an outstanding job. A lot of customers are disappointed with other vendors' field services. So if there can be a single point of service for servers, storage, and networking, it could bode well for Hitachi."