Hitachi Data Systems made its long-expected move into network-attached storage on Wednesday with the Hitachi Freedom NAS systems, which it says will enable its customers to include both NAS and SAN (storage area networking) topologies within the same pool of centrally managed storage. The company has been talking about introducing NAS products for almost a year.
The machines come from a new reseller agreement with privately held Network Storage Solutions, based in Chantilly, Virginia. It follows on from a deal signed at the start of the year, under which Hitachi agreed to provide NSS customers with maintenance services in North America. NSS launched its ProStor family of NAS servers, which use a standard Intel chassis and motherboard, in February, with prices starting at $8,000.
But Hitachi will be taking three of the older NSS Thunderbolt line of modular storage systems, designed to act as a front end to existing large storage array. They are the Thunderbolt NASEngine, MicroStorII and GT rack-mounted systems. Prices range from $22,000 for NASEngine, $31,000 for the MicroStorII and $93,000 for the GT.
In configuring the systems, either the high-end Lightning 9900 or midrange Thunder 9200 fiber channel disk array can be attached to the NAS boxes, so that customers can opt to allocate part of the capacity of a single storage unit -- up to 37TB in the Lightning 9900 and up to 7.2TB in the Thunder 9200 -- for use by NAS filer applications. The rest of the same storage array can be used by the storage area network.
According to Hitachi, this contrasts with EMC's approach, which enables a Symmetrix box or one of its newer ip4700 Chameleon boxes to be used for either NAS or SAN ? but not at the same time. And Network Appliance has only just begun extending NAS toward SAN, initially focusing on tape backup. "No one else is taking this approach," Kelly Tanaka, director of NAS technologies at HDS, told the451. "It will change the market."
IBM, however, is taking a similar approach with its Networked Attached Storage 300G gateway product. The 300G will hook into a range of systems, including storage boxes from IBM itself, EMC and Compaq -- as well as Hitachi.
The primary benefit is cost, at least for existing Hitachi customers. Buying a $30,000 device and attaching it to Hitachi storage arrays gets a customer into network-attached storage far more cheaply than the $200,000 plus it costs for equivalent NetApp or EMC configurations, claims Tanaka. "And you're going to have to buy the storage anyway."
Multiple NAS server engines, in freestanding or high-availability clustered configurations, can be accommodated. Each server supports up to 2TB. Customers operating Windows NT/2000, AS/400 or Unix systems can swap files through a standard Ethernet network. The NSS box runs its own operating system, SpanStor, to speed up file serving. Systems are available immediately.
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