Hitachi releases two products to transform data centres

HitachiData Systems (HDS) Corp., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., is laying thefoundation for data centre virtualization with the new Hitachi Virtual StoragePlatform (VSP) and Command Suite management software, recently unveiled at theHitachi Innovation Forum in SantaClara, Calif.

Data centrevirtualization is the next step in the transformation of the data centre, said HuYoshida, CTO of HDS, on stage at the forum. As server virtualization maturesand begins running enterprise-class applications, modular storage systems are“running out of gas,” he said.

“We need totransform the type of storage that we attach to these virtual servers,” saidYoshida.

HDS saysits vision for data centre transformation centres around a “single, virtualizedplatform for all data with the ability to manage multi-vendor environments” andclaims the two solutions’ “dynamic and open architecture” reduces total cost ofownership (TCO) in the first year and future proofs data centres.

Combined, VSPhardware and Command Suite software “form the foundation for that next step inthe roadmap” to the virtual data centre, said Yoshida. HDS is also looking toprovide “a foundation to extend to the next level, which may be a content datacenter or an information data centre,” he said.

Yoshida described thenew platform as a “storage computer” with processing power, as opposed to astorage container, and the new management system as a means of providingtransparency. The result is “a more efficient data center, a more agile datacenter and a more cost effective data center,” he said.

“And it is not justabout saving cost in the storage infrastructure,” he added. “It is about savingcost across the data center in making those servers and applications moreefficient and able to scale,” he said.

VSP’s keyfeature is its ability to operate as a 3D scaling storage platform, whichincludes scaling up to meet demands of applications and servers, scaling out tosupport multiple servers and scaling deep to extend the platform toheterogeneous storage.

With theability to scale deep, VSP can “integrate multi-vendor external storage intothe storage pool with scale up and scale out functionality” and provide “asingle platform for block, file and content with central management, dataprotection and search,” states HDS.

VSP integrateswith server virtualization platforms VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, aswell as the Hitachi NAS Platform and acts as a foundation for the HitachiUnified Compute Platform. HDS partners supporting VSP include BrocadeCommunications Systems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., and VMware Inc.

CommandSuite also operates in three dimensions, including the ability to manage up toover five million objects and 255PB of virtualized capacity, manage out tobuild a consolidated multi-vendor storage management framework and manage deepto incorporate capacity and performance for service level management, says HDS.

In aninterview with ComputerWorld Canada,Yoshida said the combination of the hardware and software “allows us toessentially virtualize the data centre and be able to integrate with the serverand applications so that we can create a virtual data center.”

“This givesyou the ability to provision things quickly, it enables you to scale to greaterdimensions that you could do before and also makes the servers and applicationsmore efficient by offloading some of that work for them,” he said.

Thebenefits, he said, are more pronounced for the server and application side thanthe storage. “In the storage, we are reducing the power consumption, we arereducing footprint, and yes, we are getting more performance. But the realbenefit is now I can put more virtual machines on that system, moreapplications on that system and I’ll be able to reduce the cost of the serversand applications by providing it in the storage,” he said.

“If we arelooking for a raid of return, or total cost of operations, between this productand our previous products, it’s not that much difference because in ourprevious product we also did virtualization and dynamic provisioning … the realbenefit is in making the servers and applications more efficient,” he said.

HDS differsfrom the competition by taking an application-centric, rather thanstorage-centric approach, according to Yoshida.

“Instead ofan external switch, we have an internal switch that switches front end and backend and processor and cache, and by doing that we are able to create a pool ofresources that we can use to apply to one system or extend to many systems orextend to virtual systems,” he said.

The solutions alsoaddress data centre transformation requirements such as aging infrastructure,Yoshida pointed out on stage. “We can ease that migration by doing storagevirtualization like no one else can and providing dynamic provisioning now atthe page level,” he said.

The best way totransform the data centre is “not to rip out everything have,” Yoshida told ComputerWorld Canada. “With virtualization, I can bring inmy VSP with all the latest functions and I can attach your existing assets toit and all these existing assets now all have the capability and functionalityof the VSP,” he said.

“This is anon-disruptive way of doing a transformation of for the data centre, bringingall the latest technology without having to rip and replace and then bringingthe scalability to meet demands now that are coming from these virtual serversstacked up in these very powerful multi-core processors,” he said.

And whilethe internal architecture and external packaging “are great innovations in andof themselves,” the innovation within the software is also key, Yoshida pointedout.

CommandSuite “enables us to manage over five million objects very efficiently andsimply because now we are integrating a lot of the databases, optimizing themultithreading effects, so we can reduce a lot of the management steps. We alsomanage that out in that we can manage all types of data – whether it is ablock, content or file, whether it’s mainframe or open systems or virtual, wecan manage it all from one platform,” he said.

Thesoftware also manages deep by integrating more tightly with the applications,he explained. “We are giving the applications more information about what weare doing in the infrastructure, and in turn, when they give us APIs orinterfaces we can use that to offload work from the applications and serversdown into the storage so that makes the servers and applications much moreefficient and allows them to scale to greater dimensions,” he said.

VSP’s ability to scale deep and virtualize other storage platforms from other hardware vendors is a powerful component, according to Sebastien Ruest, vice-president of services and technology research at IDC Canada.
Migration is often a “deal breaker” in infrastructure environments, said Ruest. “What these offerings are finally positioning is, ‘I can just add this particular component into my environment without having to add my other infrastructure,” he said.

VSP isahead of the curve in terms of its specs, but the real game-changer will be thesuccess of Command Suite, according to Dave Pearson, senior research analyst at IDC Canada.

Specific statisticson storage hardware “are not nearly as important” to end users as cost, ease ofintegration and ease of management, he said. “The best technology doesn’t always win,” he said.

“Software is going tobe a key component of this and that’s something that HDS isn’t traditionallyknown for. But if they can pull that off, it’s going to be a big part of thesuccess,” said Pearson.

Hitachi’s vision is about integrating the“infrastructure cloud” with the “content cloud,” said Jack Domme, CEO of HDS,during his keynote speech at the forum. “We are not only talking about storagevirtualization, we are talking about data virtualization,” he said.

Datavirtualization is about the ability “to access and discover data no matter whatapplication created it and our ability to move it across media no matter whatframe of reference it needs to be in,” he said.

Linking“the strength of the virtualized infrastructure environment with the strengthof a virtualized data and content environment is key,” said Domme. And the ideais to bring the two “together in an automated fashion to simplify themanagement of this infrastructure,” he said.

HDS has theability to index content inside the I/O path as it is ingested and “not onlyindex the properties of it, but index the actual content that sits in theobject and with that same scale of index, it can now place that content insidethe tiers and move that freely … and then access and search it across anyapplication independently of the application that created it,” said Domme.

“We canstart to integrate and share data unlike we have been able to do before at ascale that we are going to need in the future,” he said.

Coming up: Video interview with Hu Yoshida 
Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur.

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