HDS brings virtualization down

Rounding out its family of storage systems, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. on Tuesday unveiled a modular system for the midrange market that features functions borrowed from its higher-end systems.

The newest in its line of Thunder systems, the 9500 V, boasts virtualization software that is present in HDS’ existing 9900 array, dubbed Lightning. This layer allows servers connected to the subsystem to “see” it as their own subsystem, according to Christine Wallis, senior vice president of global strategy at Santa Clara, Calif.-based HDS. In other words, the storage administrators can connect a mix of servers on a single port and each will see the drives on the array at the logical unit number level.

“This virtualization assist feature has been well received on the high end,” Wallis explained. “We’re now moving it down from the Lightning series to Thunder.”

The Thunder series is HDS’ play in the modular space — a market competitors Hewlett-Packard Co., EMC Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and IBM Corp. are also very interested in. HDS’ decision to bring device management virtualization capabilities down from the high end is just another example of how important this space has become.

“HDS is following the industry and the move to modular,” said Jamie Gruener, a senior analyst at Yankee Group. “HDS is trying to increase functionality and compete with EMC’s Clariion product set.”

Earlier this year, EMC and Dell, through the companies’ resell agreement, rolled out the CX line of Clariion modular systems that features the CX600, CX400, and CX200.

Like EMC’s CX600, HDS’s 9500 V uses 2Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity internally and delivers more than 30TB of raw capacity.

In addition to the new array, HDS also introduced HiCommand Tuning Manager Software.

According to Wallis the new storage resource management software tool integrates with HDS’ overarching framework: HiCommand Management Framework. HiCommand Tuning Manager allows storage administrators to set alerts and create reports that will assist in the future planning and deploying of storage from a single screen.

This capability is a boon to HDS, said Gruener. “EMC will have to respond to this [new software functionality],” he said. “EMC has traditionally focused on software for the high end. They need to start thinking about how they can migrate the functionalities down to its modular systems.”

He noted that EMC’s September acquisition of Prisa Networks is a step in the direction. Prisa had developed management software for low-end to midrange SAN environments.