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The new HDS VSP arrays enhance QoS and data reduction

Hitachi added new VSP all-flash array and hybrid array models and updated the operating system with adaptive data reduction, enhanced quality of service and cloud tiering.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. launched new high-end all-flash and hybrid array Virtual Storage Platform models and added adaptive data reduction, quality-of-service enhancements and cloud tiering.

The all-flash Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) F Series is expanding with a new F1500 that Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) claims can deliver up to 4.8 million IOPS. The HDS VSP F1500 can use Hitachi's 7 TB or new 14 TB flash module drives (FMDs), and it offers a maximum raw capacity range of 56 TB to 8 PB. The previous top model, the VSP F800, supplies up to 1.4 million IOPS and a raw capacity of 14 TB to 8 PB.

The HDS VSP F1500 is due to ship in December or January.

Hitachi is also introducing a new VSP G1500 hybrid array as the successor to its G1000 model. The HDS VSP G1500 can supply over 4.8 million IOPS -- a 20% improvement over the G1000 -- and a 40% boost in throughput for individual workloads, according to HDS.

The G1500 is shipping now.

Customers can do an in-place upgrade from the HDS VSP G1000 to G1500 through a nondisruptive replacement of the virtual storage director controllers. The maximum raw capacity of both models is 255 PB.

"When we brought out the 1000 initially, our customers told us the lifecycle of high-end storage is no longer three to five years; it's five to seven," said Mike Nalls, a senior product marketing manager at HDS, based in Santa Clara, Calif. "And we told them at the time that we would be coming back to them later with an update that would help extend the life of the platform."

The data reduction, quality-of-service (QoS) enhancements and cloud tiering are part of the upgraded Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) that runs on VSP arrays.

The high-end HDS VSP F1500 and G1500 models support mainframes and offer advanced features, such as multisite replication and metro clustering. The new arrays employ more powerful Intel chipsets than previous VSP systems.

The VSP competes mainly with the Dell EMC VMAX and IBM DS8000 platforms. Like HDS, those vendors have also delivered their legacy flagship enterprise systems as all-flash options. Hewlett Packard Enterprise resells Hitachi's VSP as the HPE XP7.

"Two or three years ago, it was a possibility that hardware like this would disappear from the market, because the vendors would not be able to make competitive all-flash boxes out of the [high-end legacy systems]," said Tim Stammers, a senior analyst at 451 Research.

"But Hitachi, just like other vendors, [has] proven that you can. And as flash gets cheaper, there's going to be more and more of them out there. You don't have to put your faith in a ground-up-designed all-flash array, such as [NetApp's] SolidFire, [Dell EMC's] XtremIO or Pure. You can have an all-flash array based on a machine that has decades of development behind [it]. It's absolutely rock-solid, fits with your existing environment and your existing skill sets."

New adaptive data reduction

Paula Phipps, senior manager of infrastructure software marketing at HDS, acknowledged that Hitachi is catching up in the area of data reduction. But she said HDS' differentiator is "this adaptive part," where the data reduction can start inline and go post-process as necessary to reduce the performance impact and maximize efficiency.

"Also, some of the other activities that go on in the background to keep our flash media optimized are always done in a way that least disrupts production performance," Phipps said.

Data reduction is considered a key feature for all-flash systems because it expands the effective capacity of expensive flash media. Dell EMC this month added inline compression to its VMAX platform, but VMAX does not support deduplication.

HDS previously offered file-based deduplication in its unified systems and hardware-based, always-on data compression in its FMDs. The new SVOS-level adaptive data deduplication and compression operates at the controller level. Customers have the option to turn the controller-based data reduction on or off by storage pool.

We're seeing more and more customers starting to plan their environments based on effective capacity.
Paula Phippssenior manager of infrastructure software marketing at HDS

"We're seeing more and more customers starting to plan their environments based on effective capacity," Phipps said. "And we're helping them assess their environments to find out which application data will be most likely to get the best compression rate and the best deduplication rate."

HDS claims the adaptive data reduction can cut capacity by 5:1 or more, but the ratios can vary based on workloads. The maximum effective all-flash capacity of the new VSP F1500 is estimated at 40 PB.

The new SVOS 7.0 release also provides more granular QoS capabilities. HDS previously offered QoS to the storage-port level. With the new release, customers can manage down to the LUN. VMware VVOLs users can also tie virtual machines to a specific data store, also known as the LUN or volume. Users of other hypervisors can manage from the physical host to the port or LUN level.

The new cloud tiering in SVOS 7.0 lets users set policies to offload data to Hitachi Content Platform and public clouds to free up more space for production data. HDS supports Amazon Simple Storage Service, Microsoft and its own REST-based APIs, according to Phipps.

Management software updates

HDS also upgraded its management stack with new versions of the Hitachi Storage Advisor, Automation Director and Infrastructure Analytics Advisor software to ease implementation of the new SVOS functions.

The Storage Advisor, which is bundled with all VSP G Series and F Series models, can guide administrators to available resources and make recommendations on provisioning and protection. The updated software also supports the new linked-snapshot feature to create thin copies of data sets.

The Infrastructure Analytics Advisor, announced over the summer, can troubleshoot storage performance issues and assist customers with capacity planning and data placement. The updated software also gives customers the ability to monitor deduplication and compression savings. The Infrastructure Analytics Advisor is provided in the separately licensed Hitachi Performance Analytics package.

Automation Director includes predefined templates based on best practices for provisioning certain applications and role-based access capabilities. Hitachi Automation Director is separately licensed and included in an advanced software package for the VSP F1500.

HDS said pricing is not available yet for the new VSP F1500 and G1500 array models.

Stammers said NetApp SolidFire, HPE and Pivot3 have more sophisticated QoS than HDS. But, he said, "In typical Hitachi style, they're doing it stage by stage carefully, and [the latest enhancements are] an indicator of where things are going."

"QoS is becoming more and more important in a highly virtualized world, where you're supporting hundreds or thousands of applications," said Russ Fellows, a senior partner and analyst at Evaluator Group Inc., in Boulder, Colo. "The other thing I think is important is they have both dedupe and compression, because none of the other enterprise-class systems have both dedupe and compression."

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