HDS Hikes High-End NAS

Overhauls its high-end NAS story as partner BlueArc fleshes out its own roadmap

February 28, 2007

4 Min Read
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HDS fired another shot across the bows of EMC and NetApp today, unveiling a souped-up NAS box based on its OEM deal with BlueArc. (See BlueArc Boosts Performance.)

The two firms announced late in 2006 a five-year deal to rebrand BlueArc's Titan 2000 as the HDS high performance NAS Platform. (See HDS, BlueArc in Big NAS Deal.) The result is a 512-Tbyte box, which is aimed at HPC sites and large enterprises and is being touted as a competitor to EMC's Celerra and NetApp's FAS and V Series products.

Unlike the previous offering from HDS/BlueArc, which scaled up to two nodes, software enhancements allow the system to run in a four-node cluster. BlueArc claims this offers over one million input/output operations per second (IOPS), compared to around 600,000 in a two-node cluster.

Scalability has traditionally been cited by users as the pain point for NAS, which explains HDS's desire to boost its clustering capabilities. (See The Outer Limits of NAS and NAS Roadmap .)

Last year, for example, rival NetApp introduced its Data Ontap GX operating system for clustered NAS, which extended the clustering capabilities of its 504-Tbyte FAS6070 device. (See NetApp's GX Targets HPC and NetApp Ships Data Ontap GX.)According to analyst firm IDC, EMC and Network Appliance together hold more than 70 percent of the market, making this business a big challenge for HDS. "NetApp has got dominance, because, for the longest time, they were the only vendor out there," says one analyst, who asked not to be named. "It's much harder to dislodge a large installed base than it is to compete with a vendor."

He thinks HDS's deal with BlueArc has helped its NAS position, however. "HDS spent around eight figures with BlueArc in the quarter that just ended. They ... are selling it," he says.

This isn't HDS's first attempt to crack the NAS market. The vendor resold NetApp NAS until coming out with its own NAS blades that plug into its TagmaStore high-end SAN systems in April 2005. (See NAS Up Next for Hitachi.)

For its part, BlueArc is cranking up its own NAS activity. As well as HDS and a deal with LSI's Engenio division, BlueArc has quietly racked up another big-name partner in the shape of Cray. "It's a worldwide reseller agreement," explains Steve Daheb, BlueArc's vice president of marketing. "It's Cray reselling the Titan along with their products."

CDP is also creeping onto the BlueArc roadmap. (See Pixelmetrix Unveils IPTV Tester.) At the moment, the vendor offers what it describes as "near-CDP," running snapshots at one-second intervals, although this may be enhanced. "It's something that we're looking at," says Daheb, although he would not say when full CDP is likely to be offered.This would certainly strengthen HDS's arm against EMC and NetApp, which are both draggging their feet on CDP for clustered NAS. (See EMC Takes CDP Downmarket and Exanet Dips Toe in CDP Pool.) NetApp, for example, acquired CDP technology when it bought Alacritus in 2005 but hasn't yet rolled out a full CDP product, although it does support snapshots on its NAS systems. (See NetApp Annexes Alacritus.)

A capacity hike might also be in the cards for the Titan product, driven by 1-Tbyte disk drives and new SCSI standards. "We're working with the storage vendors," explains Daheb. "We will be able to expand the amount of storage that we support behind the existing products."

BlueArc is also considering the addition of indexing and archiving technologies to the Titan platform, prompted, no doubt, by a growing demand for e-discovery. (See Legal Eagles Seek Data Unity.) "These are all things that we're exploring today," says Daheb, adding that BlueArc will probably get its hands on these technologies via partnerships and reseller deals.

HDS, for its part, also appears to be making new buddies. Rumors persist that HDS will team up with Sun in a virtualization deal centering on the latter's 6920 product. (See HDS PrepsTagmaStore, Ponders Sun.) In an interview with Byte and Switch in November, Sun storage chief David Yen said Sun would not sell off the 6920, but would explore partnerships -- hinting at an OEM or licensing deal. (See Sun Storage Chief: We're Not for Sale.)

Pricing for the single-node version of the HDS High Performance NAS platform starts at just under $300,000. Pricing for the four-node cluster, which is available now, starts at just under $1 million.James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • Cray Inc. (Nasdaq: CRAY)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IDC

  • LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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