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HDS adds SAN muscle to archive

Hitachi Data Systems integrates its archive software across its product line and adds important new features, including replication, data deduplication and security.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) took the wraps off a major upgrade to its Content Archive Platform this week, a content-addressed storage (CAS) product based on its Feb. 2007 acquisition of Archivas Inc.

The first version of the product was limited in scope, available in a single, integrated device based on the HDS WMS100 storage array. Version 2.0, shipping today, decouples the server from the storage and now supports the entire line of storage systems from HDS. Integration with HDS' high-end USP-V array, for example, enables a single node of the archive to scale to 256 terabytes (TB) or 400 million objects. HDS claims an 80 node archive will support up to 20 petabytes (PB). The previous version supported 32 TB and 25 million objects per node. Users are also able to scale server nodes and storage capacity separately, reducing the power consumption usually associated with scaling.

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Archives and data protection: They are NOT the same
"They've boosted performance and made it easier to buy as users can now pick which Hitachi storage they want behind the archive," said John Webster, principle IT analyst with Illuminata Inc. For third-party storage support, users are required to buy the HDS USP-V and virtualize the non-HDS storage behind it, according to Michael Hay, director of product strategy at HDS.

Tony Asaro, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said the company has added some key features to the product, missing in the earlier version, including replication, security and deduplication, and is positioning it "to be a leader in the next wave," of the CAS market, he said.

Patent-pending data protection

Version 2.0 has an integrated replication feature called automated object replication that previously required an interposing server. This enables replication over the WAN to share data between sites or for disaster recovery. It includes an optional digital signature capability to ensure authenticity, as well as compression to ease network congestion.

Hitachi has also introduced an encryption feature for users looking to step up the security of their archive. The patent-pending technology, referred to as "secret sharing," allows users to store their security key within the Hitachi Content Archive Platform and "secretly share" that key across multiple nodes within the archive. In doing so, only a fully operational system -- with all of its nodes connected to the archive -- will be able to decrypt the content, meta data and search index, HDS claims. This new software ensures that if a server or storage device is stolen or removed from the cluster, the device would be automatically encrypted and immediately unreadable by any other device.

Data deduplication

Another new feature known as single-instance storage provides both a hash comparison and binary comparison to ensure objects are actual duplicates, therefore avoiding "hash collisions" where different objects could have the same cryptographic hash key. "There's a lot of uncertainty around the systems that rely only on hash algorithms, as many of these have been cracked," HDS' Hay said. The archive will show how many duplicates were eliminated and the amount of total storage capacity saved.


According to most analysts, Hitachi has an impressive product on its hands in terms of scale and performance. However, the company lacks oomph as far as generating business with partners goes. HDS said 26 application vendors have written to the archive, which pales in comparison to the hundreds of ISVs that support EMC's Centera archiving system. "Now that the solution is capable of doing so much more, you're going to see much more action from partners," said Asim Zaheer, senior director of business development for content archiving at HDS.

Webster said he believes that once the XAM specification takes hold, HDS will be in a stronger position to pick up market share. "This is the floodgate to partnerships -- it will be much easier when people can write to a standard interface," he said. HDS was unable to provide user references by press time.

List pricing will be between $10 GB to $14 GB depending on storage platform, disk size, performance etc. An entry-level 5 TB system will have a list price of approximately $70,000.

Meanwhile, the rumor mill is in full swing regarding the next generation of Centera. Sources said it's expected in the fall, and like the new HDS platform, will scale performance and capacity independently, as well as support a flexible hashing algorithm for better security.

"Centera is getting long in the tooth -- there are a number of things out there now that are bigger, better and faster," Webster said.

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