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Hitachi TagmaStore to scale even higher

According to reports on the Web over the holiday week, Hitachi is set to unveil a new high-end disk array. But whatever happened to the software products it touted in 2006?

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is planning to release a new disk array in early 2007 that would double the speeds of the existing TagmaStore arrays, according to a report first released in Network World.

Reached for comment, HDS representatives declined to confirm or deny the reports, which indicate that the new disk array, said to be codenamed "Broadway," will be part of the Tagmastore line and will hold a maximum internal capacity within an Integrated Control/Array frame of 576 terabytes (TB). Reports said the array can take up to four additional expansion frames and address up to 256 petabytes (PB) of external storage via virtualization. The main array supposedly also boasts performance of 500,000 IOPs and up to 512 GB cache memory.

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Meanwhile, HDS is only just coming off its announcement that it's headed for the high-end network attached storage (NAS) market; the company could also be heard at Storage Networking World touting data deduplication with Diligent Technologies Inc. A little further back, HDS was trumpeting a partnership with Archivas Inc. for long-term archiving.

Neither the Diligent nor Archivas products have made many waves, yet. Meanwhile, some industry experts had predicted HDS would make a full-scale acquisition of its NAS partner BlueArc, which also has yet to come to fruition.

Given that 2006, for HDS and its competitors, was a year in which "software differentiation" and "storage differentiation" became synonymous terms, opening 2007 with a speeds-and-feeds hardware announcement might seem to some a change of direction for HDS.

"I think this new box -- assuming it exists -- is more about going after what Hitachi perceives as growing opportunities at the high end of the capacity 'under one roof' and performance scales," said John Webster, principal IT advisor for the Illuminata Inc. "How much opportunity there is at that end of the spectrum remains to be seen."

Other analysts suggested that a speeds-and-feeds announcement would be typical of HDS' conservative approach to the market.

"They need to focus on their core competency first, which is storage solutions [with] incremental and innovative enhancements," said Greg Schulz, founder and analyst with the StorageIO Group. "The question often comes up, why doesn't HDS buy one of these [software] companies, but it's easier for HDS to partner on a near-term basis than it is to do acquisitions given their relationship back to their parent company, Hitachi Ltd., in Japan."

Another industry-watcher, speaking on condition of anonymity, put it more bluntly: "HDS is really a [software] reseller that happens to have a direct tie to the factory [for hardware]."

Webster said HDS appears to at least be consistent with its announcements thus far. "Yes, Hitachi tends to be hardware-oriented when making these announcements," he said. "However, the deals with Archivas, Diligent, BlueArc and others have been integrated with the TagmaStore hardware -- the innovation comes from virtualizing a large, high-performance platform."

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