Hitachi Data Systems Intros All-Flash Array To Take On EMC, Pure Storage

Hitachi Data Systems has departed from its traditional storage focus with the introduction of a new line of all-flash storage arrays the company is using to target a market now occupied by rivals such as EMC and Pure Storage.

HDS Tuesday introduced its new Hitachi Flash Storage A Series of all-flash arrays which, unlike its previous VSP and other solutions, features a new operating system optimized for high performance using industry-standard components.

While HDS has had success in big data and other storage environments with its VSP solution, customers also require high-performance and highly dense flash storage, said Bob Madaio, senior director of product marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

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"With the HFS A arrays, now we can walk into a customer, and instead of saying, 'This what we have,' we can say, 'What do you need?'" Madaio told CRN.

The HFS A series of all-flash storage arrays, which were previously code-named Cheetah, come in three models, all of which share the same 2U enclosure and which differ primarily in the total SSD capacity, Madaio said.

Unlike HDS' all-flash version of its VSP line, which features the company's self-designed flash storage modules, the new A Series features industry-standard SSDs. For that reason, the offerings compete in the same space as all-flash arrays such as EMC's XtremIO and Pure Storage's FlashArray//m.

The HFS A Series is unique in that customers can turn dedupe and compression on or off at the RAID group level to get improved performance when needed, Madaio said. This compares with HDS' younger upstart competitors whose arrays feature always-on dedupe. "They came to market when flash was expensive," he said. "So their dedupe is on all the time. We offer flexibility."

The A220 includes 10 1.6-TB SSDs for a total raw capacity of 16 TB, or effective capacity of 64 TB with compression and deduplication. The A250 features 30 SSDs for a raw capacity of 48 TB and effective capacity of 192 TB. The A270 features 60 SSDs for a raw capacity of 96 TB and effective capacity of 384 TB.

The A220 has a street price of about $125,000, making it one of the lowest-priced all-flash arrays on the market, Madaio said.

The A Series is available only in those three configurations, which keeps the supply chain simple and prices low, Madaio said.

With the HFS A Series, HDS is stepping into new territory as a way to compete with EMC's XtremIO, Pure Storage, Tintri, and others in this space, said one HDS solution provider who preferred to remain anonymous because of competitive solutions his company carries.

While some customers want the kind of uptime that HDS storage systems provide, others want the pure performance they can get with the HFS A all-flash arrays, the solution provider told CRN.

"The ability to turn dedupe on or off at the RAID group level is important for certain customers," the solution provider said. "Dedupe is a big difference. Customers with R&D functions, or who do software development, want to test their applications on a bunch of virtual machines. They may want four or five virtual machines with 1,000 copies of each. You want raw storage for all that, or deduped storage. It's up to the performance required."

Because the HFS A series was designed for performance, it may not have the uptime customers expect from HDS' traditional storage arrays, the solution provider said. "When I talk to customers used to HDS enterprise storage who don't want downtime, I tell them to buy two and connect them together," the solution provider said.