Hitachi Data Unveils HUS VM: Unified Storage For SMEs

Hitachi Data Systems on Tuesday unveiled a new version of its unified storage technology that brings the management of file, block and object data onto a single platform designed for small and midsize enterprise customers.

HDS' new Hitachi Unified Storage VM (HUS VM) is the first storage platform that virtualizes, manages and unifies all data types, said Mike Nalls, senior product marketing manager for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

"It was designed particularly for SMBs with lower operations cost and faster data migration than competing products," Nalls said. "And we're the only one to offer a 100-percent data availability guarantee."

[Related: 'Unified Storage' Redefined: HDS Manages File, Block, Object As One ]

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The HUS VM is not HDS' first move to unify file, block and object data under a single management scheme. The company in April unveiled its first Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) platform.

The HUS platform, based on the company's Command Suite software, allows block, file and object data to be stored on the same array and managed with a single suite of management tools.

While the concept of unified storage has traditionally allowed block-level (SAN) and file-level (NAS) storage protocols to be used simultaneously within a single appliance, HDS is adding object storage to that mix. Object storage is data that is stored with a unique identifier, which includes metadata about the object that remains with the data as it is moved.

With HUS, HDS is combining the management of its traditional block-based storage arrays, its file-based storage technology from last year's acquisition of NAS vendor BlueArc and its Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) system, which provides intelligent, content-focused storage of unstructured data using multiple tiers.

The HUS VM, like the HUS, is unique in that they can serve as a unified management front end for any existing storage arrays, including arrays from HDS or from competitors such as EMC, thereby protecting customers' investment in legacy storage.

The big difference with the new HUS VM is that it is targeting SME customers with maybe 500 to 1,000 users, Nalls said.

"The SMB is probably not a global leader, but may be a leader within a country, or it may be a government or a university system," he said. "These are organizations looking at how to manage their data growth at a reasonable pace."

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The HUS VM is available in multiple configurations, including a version with no hard drives that instead relies completely on other arrays for capacity and a version with its own internal storage. They are available for shipping now. Another version, which uses flash storage instead of hard drives, is slated to ship early next year, HDS' Nalls said.

They come with a 100-percent data availability guarantee. "This is a legal contract, which guarantees customers won't lose data, based on parity groups," he said. "It requires us to monitor the system and customers to sign a service contract."

Customers love Hitachi's virtualized storage solutions, said Mark Teter, CTO at Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider and longtime HDS channel partner that was the first VAR to get a test unit.

Being able to virtualize both Hitachi and non-Hitachi arrays while protecting investments in existing storage capacity is a powerful message for customers, Teter said. However, for many SMEs, the price has been too high, he said.

"The HUS VM is priced like a modular array," he said. "We are looking forward to taking it to the virtualized and cloud markets where customers can use them to build private clouds."

The HUS VM, which scales to over 80 TB of capacity, is slated to be sold mainly through indirect sales channels, said Greg Bucyk, HDS' manager of global infrastructure channels, global partners and alliances.

"It lets partners address the customer set in the gap between midrange and enterprise customers," Bucyk said. "It also lets partners work with enterprise customers who are looking for smaller implementations. It also provides an opportunity to work with applications such as VMware, so it really fits into customers' virtualized data center environments."

Because the HUS VM uses the same HDS Command Suite operating system as existing HDS systems, partners experienced with the company's Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) are ready to put these new resources into their customer sites, whereas those trained in the HUS 100 product will require little training for the HUS VM, Bucyk said.