Hitachi to battle EMC plan with True North

Taking a lesson from EMC Corp.’s AutoIS enterprise storage management strategy, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. (HDS) unveiled its own enterprise storage management initiative on Tuesday, called True North, at the NetWorld+Interop 2002 trade show in Las Vegas.

Similar to AutoIS, True North is a wide-reaching effort to partner HDS with storage software developers and hardware companies, such as switch vendors, to deliver heterogeneous virtualization of storage resources.

True North also promises to deliver policy-based automation that finally permits storage administrators to manage multiple tasks, such as storage resource management (SRM) and storage network monitoring, to name a few, from a single management console, according to Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.

“Customers have been hitting the wall in terms of storage management,” said Prigmore. “The whole reason there is so much energy focused on the storage management is because customers haven’t had very good policy-based tools and automation. They’ve had resident function, but no framework.”

True North looks to provide such a framework through the combination of storage software, storage hardware, and aggressive collaboration with third-party storage vendors that creates as open a storage framework as possible.

“True North as an overriding strategy that has three key components,” hardware, software, and APIs, explained Chris Worrall, the vice-president of product management at HDS, in Santa Clara, Calif.

HDS’s HiCommand storage software will provide the management framework for True North, and HDS launched a new Lightning 9900a V-Series storage server to fortify the hardware component.

The third leg of True North will be for HDS to pursue API trading partnerships with storage component vendors, friend and foe alike, to deliver the maximum amount of heterogeneous functionality to mixed-vendor storage networks.

“Key to our strategy is the ability to collaborate with all our partners, whether they be the ISV – independent software vendors – or the IHV [hardware], or the customer, to allow users to integrate solutions to be part of our open framework,” Worrall said.

Both Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard will re-sell the Lightning 9900a V-Series storage server. Launch announcements from the two companies are expected to arrive this week.

“Hitachi has an install base through traditional Hitachi sales efforts and, more importantly, through Hewlett-Packard and Sun, and this has put HDS in a situation where they have lots of storage clients that now have management problems,” Prigmore said. “With EMC out there with AutoIS, it would have been impossible for Hitachi to continue to exist as a viable vendor unless they put in place a comprehensive storage management strategy. They had to do True North, customers were demanding it.”

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