HDS Unveils Its First All-Flash Array Family, With Focus On Performance And Cost

Hitachi Data Systems on Tuesday unveiled its first all-flash storage array family as part of the storage vendor's new "flash first" strategy for developing solutions.

While HDS has sold all-flash configurations of its existing VSP G series of hybrid disk and flash arrays, its new VSP F series is the first designed specifically to use the company's new HDS-built FMD DC2 flash modules, said Bob Madaio, senior director of product marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

"This is the start of our 'flash first' strategy," Madaio told CRN. "We're rolling out flash across our entire line. And we're priced to compete with any all-flash array in the market."

[Related: 15 High-Performance Flash Solutions From The Flash Memory Summit]

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Being "priced to compete" is a tall order, as many top all-flash storage array vendors have focused on ways to price their offerings to widen the market.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the new enterprise business formed from the split of Hewlett-Packard into two, has a new all-flash version of its 3PAR storage technology with a list price starting at $19,000, or as low as $1.50 per Gbyte.

Dell in July introduced a new all-flash version of its Compellent SC family featuring low-cost TLC 3-D NAND technology that brings the cost-per-Gbyte of all-flash storage to about $1.66 for raw capacity.

HDS is using its MLC-based FMD DC2 flash modules, combined with built-in automatic data compression and the company's own storage controllers, to compete with solutions priced at under $2 per Gbyte in some cases, Madaio said.

"This is the first time we have been this aggressive," he said. "And it's the first time we have included compression to dramatically lower the cost."

Future versions of the FMD DC2 flash modules are slated to include deduplication technology as well as increased density and efficiency, Madaio said. The company also plans to expand its all-flash technology into converged infrastructure and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, he said.

HDS introduced three models in the new VSP F family. All three offer raw flash capacity from 14.4 Tbytes to 256 Tbytes, or post-compression capacity of up to 448 TBs, Madaio said. They differ primarily in the performance, which ranges up to 1.4 million IOPS and under 1 millisecond of latency, he said. The built-in in-line compression technology operates with no performance penalty, he said.

The FMD DC2 flash modules are also available for upgrading the company's VSP G family of hybrid storage arrays, he said.

HDS' entry into the all-flash array market is welcome news, said Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime HDS channel partner.

Having a all-flash array line is important, Kadlec said. "If nothing else, having a new all-flash array will help [market researcher] Gartner consider Hitachi in its all-flash reports going forward," Kadlec told CRN.

All joking aside, Kadlec said he is seeing strong demand for all-flash-array performance, along with the smaller data center footprint it offers compared with traditional or hybrid arrays.

"We have a transportation company that needs extremely fast IOPS, not for everything, but for a certain subset of applications," he said. "That customer now implements SSD storage with hybrid flash and spinning disk arrays, but it wants the performance of an all-flash solution. It is also looking at the total cost of ownership and return on investment. And physical space is important."

To go with its new VSP F family of all-flash arrays, HDS on Tuesday also introduced the FMD Data Eradication Service as a safe way to clean the company's FMD flash modules of old data for compliance and auditing purposes, Madaio said.

"This securely deletes the data on the FMD modules and lets them be reused," he said. "This is a chargeable service our partners can resell. The deletion exceeds [National Institute of Standards and Technology] recommendations."