Earlier this month, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) made a series of announcements. The one that probably got the most attention was the TrueNorth Initiative, the company's vision for supporting its customers' best-of-breed technology choices. Hitachi says it will deliver an "open and collaborative storage management framework, with policy-based automation tools, virtualization-assist capabilities, and storage systems that deliver the industry's highest performance, availability, and scalability."
But that wasn't the only blow aimed at other storage vendors including EMC's AutoIS strategy. In addition to TrueNorth, the company also unveiled the Lightning 9900 V Series storage systems offering up to 75TB of raw capacity as well as HiCommand, a policy automation module that translates business rules into storage commands. The module automates many functions now carried out manually, potentially, says the company, improving the productivity of storage professionals and driving down costs.
While any one of the announcements is significant, taken together they are perhaps almost momentous. Among analysts, Nashua, NH-based Illuminata is upbeat about the HDS lineup. In a recent article they praised the size of the new HDS arrays, the strength of HDS' statement of commitment to open standards and the capabilities of HiCommand. That software, originally designed to manage HDS arrays, has been opened up with a message bus that will allow ISVs to plug in their software using Common Information Model (CIM) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) standards.
And, they note, HDS is betting that the enormous size of its storage subsystems will allow it to "eat the competition" by selling to users who want to consolidate several storage systems onto one -- in the same way that many are seeking to consolidate servers as a way of cutting costs.
HDS claims the 9980V is big enough to do the work of several EMC Symmetrix or IBM ESS arrays.
Jamie Gruener, an analyst at Yankee Group, Boston, Mass., is also bullish on the HDS offerings. "Despite what EMC may be thinking, this is really a big threat to them in terms of performance and architecture," he says. "Clearly, HDS has thought through the process and has built a box that is high performance and could turn into a Symmetrix killer," he added.
However, Gruener noted that there is still no guarantee buyers will flock to HDS -- and the company must continue to do a better job with innovating the software layer.
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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.