HDS Updates Cloud Storage Strategy With Big Data Business Intelligence

Hitachi Data Systems this week expanded its cloud technology capabilities with the expansion of its cloud strategy, the information cloud, aimed at helping customers derive value from content they are already managing.

HDS's introduction of its information cloud is the third leg of its cloud strategy, said Linda Xu, senior director of worldwide product marketing, file, content and cloud services.

The information cloud, which is focused on big data, is HDS's way of helping customers use cloud services to get business value and insights from their data, Xu said.

"Big data" is data which scales to multiple petabytes of capacity and is created or collected, is stored, and is collaborative in real time. Big data typically consists of unstructured data, which includes text, audio and video files, photographs, and other data which is not easy to handle using traditional database management tools.

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"Big data is not just about the size of the data, but about getting value from it," she said. We want to add components that will bring analytics to big data in the future."

As part of its information cloud strategy, HDS is leveraging technology from ParaScale, a company it acquired last year, Xu said. ParaScale developed software to give customers scalable on-site and cloud backup and recovery, and allowed hundreds of commodity Linux-based servers to be clustered together to form a massive file repository.

HDS also plans to leverage Hadoop in the near future, although Xu was not able to give a specific date.

The Apache Hadoop project is a framework for running applications on large clusters built using commodity hardware. Hadoop works by breaking an application into multiple small fragments of work, each of which may be executed or re-executed on any node in the cluster. It includes the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) for reliably storing very large files across machines in a large cluster.

HDS is tying its own storage hardware with technologies like Hadoop to private and public clouds to build content repositories that allow customers to take advantage of data wherever it sits, Xu said.

HDS's introduction of the information cloud fills out HDS's cloud strategy on the heels of the introduction earlier this year of two other parts of that strategy.

The first part of that strategy, the infrastructure cloud, came in June when HDS introduced its converged data center solutions for building cloud infrastructures based in part on its own storage and virtualized storage technology and on blade servers from its parent company, Hitachi.

The second, Xu said, is the content cloud which adds intelligence to data, making it capable of being managed based on the value of that data, Xu said. This includes the ability to migrate data as needed, and to do search and discovery across all a company's media and hardware, including structured and unstructured data in both block and file data format.

To build the content cloud, HDS has integrated the NAS technology it got with its September acquisition of BlueArc to its Hitachi Content Platform, which provides automated tiering of data between different types of storage depending on the value of the data.

HDS last year introduced the ability for customers to connect their existing NetApp storage products as part of its Hitachi Content Platform, and this month introduced the ability to also tie in storage from EMC, Xu said.

Next: Adding Intelligence While Cutting Storage Costs

A major concern of customers is the challenge of managing SharePoint and file servers, along with the cost of keeping on-premises storage, said Brian Cann, vice president of marketing and solutions for global infrastructure services, solutions, and consulting at CGI, a Montreal, Quebec-based solution provider and long-time HDS partner.

"Customers are looking for ways to take some of the data off their premium storage products to the cloud while keeping it accessible to users," Cann said. "With Hitachi Data Systems' information cloud, they can use intelligence to move data which hasn't been accessed for 30, 60, or 90 days to lower-cost storage."

The ability to get business intelligence from data stored on HDS arrays is a good next move for customers, Cann said.

"Since we have a lot of Hitachi storage on the floor, this is a bolt-on software that adds the new capabilities," he said. "This allows customers to move data to lower-cost storage based on business rules."