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Hitachi Content Platform integrates WekaIO file storage

Hitachi Content Platform G-11 object storage nodes get refreshed with startup WekaIO's parallel file system. The WekaFS is optimized for Hitachi VSP all-flash arrays.

Hitachi Vantara refreshed its object storage with new all-flash nodes that integrate scale-out file storage from OEM partner WekaIO.

Second-generation Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) G-11 all-flash nodes include software enhancements to improve capacity, scale and performance over HCP S Series hybrid systems. The WekaIO-engineered distributed file system is packaged and sold as a Hitachi-branded HCP product.

Data centers that require only Hitachi object storage may purchase the new HCP nodes now. The integrated file-and-object system is slated to be generally available later this year.

Hitachi Vantara, formerly Hitachi Data Systems, is the storage division of Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. The Hitachi product launch comes as ex-Cognizant executive Gajen Kandiah takes over this week as new Hitachi Vantara CEO. Hitachi Vantara will also have a new president of infrastructure at the end of July when current COO Bobby Soni replaces Brian Householder, who spent 17 years at the company.

Hitachi object storage with parallel file system

The Hitachi-WekaIO OEM deal illustrates how object storage has evolved beyond "cheap and deep" archive storage. Customers typically use HCP to build a secure on-premises private cloud, with sync and share capabilities to public cloud instances.

Colin Gallagher, a marketing vice president of Hitachi Vantara's digital infrastructure portfolio, said Hitachi and WekaIO collaborated in the channel to serve joint customers, which laid the groundwork for joint engineering.

Gallagher said the Hitachi HCP G-11 nodes provide 3.4 times faster data throughput with Amazon S3, lowering the cost by about one-third over existing HCP systems.

Hitachi's object storage uses Hitachi Virtual Storage (VSP) arrays for unified storage. The vendor claims the new HCP-WekaIO configuration works best with VSP 500 all-flash arrays, but enterprises could use VSP hybrid storage or other legacy systems for back-end storage.

Enterprises can also get Hitachi HCP as a software-only deployment or via Hitachi EverFlex licensing.

Gartner analyst Chandra Mukhyala said Hitachi needed to add scale-out file capacity to fully support larger application scripts running real-time analytics.

"Most applications in the data center are file-based. Modern applications are all performance-hungry and capacity-hungry. You need a scale-out architecture, and Hitachi hasn't had that until now," Mukhyala said.

WekaIO claims its file system supports writing large volumes of unstructured data, sidestepping limitations imposed by the NFS protocol. The WekaFS parallel file system is optimized for server-based flash. The software presents all flash capacity as a single pool and tiers warm data to object stores.

WekaIO software runs on servers by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Supermicro, but the Hitachi partnership marks the first time WekaFS is bundled on dedicated hardware. The integration involves optimizing WekaFS for the Hitachi stack, WekaIO CEO Liran Zvibel said.

"We are integrating with HCP to provide a complete solution and make sure our product runs very well on the Hitachi server. Customers get a full-blown appliance experience," Zvibel said.

Parallel file systems provide the storage for analyzing complex data with high-performance computing. IBM pioneered the technology with its General Parallel File System, now branded as IBM Spectrum Scale. Another option is open source Lustre, which is owned by HPC vendor DDN.

Startup WekaIO completes in a market dominated by large vendors, including NetApp and Dell EMC Isilon.

Amita Potnis, a research director of enterprise infrastructure at IDC, said Hitachi has a good stake in object storage with HCP, which integrates related technologies such as Hitachi Content Intelligence automated indexing, Hitachi Anywhere file sync and share, and Pentaho analytics.

"All of that combined with a high-performance file system gives Hitachi a well-rounded portfolio for unstructured data. And for WekaIO, although it has partnerships with other storage vendors, the Hitachi partnership adds an appliance version of its software that gives it access to newer customers," Potnis said.

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