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Hitachi storage refocuses on enterprise with new VSP array

Large commercial consumers have been the primary target for Hitachi storage systems of late, but new Hitachi Vantara VSP 5000 targets Dell EMC PowerMax enterprise storage.

Hitachi Vantara has renewed its emphasis on enterprise storage, after pulling back in recent years to sell integrated storage infrastructure to commercial industries.

Hitachi today expanded its enterprise flagship Virtual Storage Platform all-flash array with the VSP 5000 model. The latest Hitachi storage array ships with NVMe and SAS SSDs. Support for non-disruptive upgrades to NVMe-oF and storage class memory are on the Hitachi roadmap.

The VSP 5000 adds cloud-based predictive analytics and data management to Hitachi Accelerated Flash stack. Most of the storage management has been shifted to the upgraded Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System and new Hitachi Ops Center analytics software. Earlier VSP all-flash arrays used Hitachi custom flash hardware modules to offload encryption and other storage management.  

No more custom architecture  

Hitachi is phasing out its custom hardware media in favor of less expensive off-the-shelf components. That's the path also taken by IBM Storage, which recently said it will stop using custom PCIe flash technology in its FlashSystem all-flash arrays. Pure Storage, on the other hand, is going the opposite route with its DirectFlash NVMe modules on its FlashArray block storage.

Hitachi revamped VSP 5000 with a series of field-programmable gate arrays and faster processors, said Henry Baltazar, a storage analyst at 451 Research.

"With this architectural design change, the need for custom modules has waned. They can do things on FPGAs or the system itself," Baltazar said.

The VSP 5000 is Hitachi's first enterprise all-flash array to incorporate NVMe flash. The vendor previously integrated NVMe on Hitachi Unified Compute HC hyper-converged and Hitachi UCP converged systems.

"This gives them an NVMe offering and catches them up to the other major storage vendors," said Eric Burgener, a research vice president for storage at analyst firm IDC.

Hitachi: VSP ready to take on Dell EMC PowerMax

The VSP 5000 is a major refresh of Hitachi enterprise all-flash storage. Colin Gallagher, a Hitachi vice president of infrastructure solutions, said VSP 5000 will go up against high-end enterprise SANs, especially the Dell EMC PowerMax. Hitachi declined to provide list pricing.

The vendor rates VSP 5000 to deliver nearly 21 million IOPS and 70 microseconds of latency. Gallagher said enhanced Hitachi storage analytics include cloud-based predictive analytics and AI-driven data operations.

"We've always been players in the enterprise space. This platform is designed to reinvigorate what we can do for enterprise customers," Gallagher said.

Conagra Brands Inc. is a longtime Hitachi shop. The packaged foods giant implemented VSP 5000 storage to drive its digital transformation, said Conagra enterprise IT architect Matt Bouges.

  “We need to move into the next layer of data operations. Storage zoning can be very manually intensive. We took that down from about 30 minutes to two minutes. That frees up people to be able to work on other things,” Bouges said during a presentation at Hitachi Next, the vendor’s annual user conference in Las Vegas.

Hitachi Vantara was formed in 2017 and operates as a subsidiary of Tokyo-based conglomerate Hitachi Ltd. The company comprises Hitachi storage -- formerly known as Hitachi Data Systems -- along with Hitachi Insight IoT technologies and Hitachi Pentaho analytics. The company has mostly sold to storage for large operational systems for construction, heavy industry, railways and transportation networks.

The company is in the midst of folding Hitachi Consulting Corp., its professional services arm, with Hitachi Vantara. The merger is expected to take effect in January.

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Hitachi Vantara step back into enterprise market with VSP upgrade. What storage features does Hitachi need to add to grab share from competitors?
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