Hitachi Bulks Up

Taps thin provisioning, virtualization to boost USP platform to more than 200 Pbytes

May 15, 2007

4 Min Read
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After months of speculation, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) finally unveiled the successor to its TagmaStore system today, taking the wraps off its high-end Universal Storage Platform (USP) V. (See Hitachi Unveils USP Hardware, Hitachi Intros Thin Provisioning, and HDS: Users Pick TagmaStore.)

As previously reported, USP V's total external capacity leaps to more than 200 Pbytes, reaching a maximum of 247 Pbytes. (See HDS Preps Broadway Debut and HDS PrepsTagmaStore, Ponders Sun.) On a conference call this morning, HDS CTO Hu Yoshida explained that USP V uses a combination of thin provisioning and virtualization to reach this capacity. "We create a large, logical, storage pool, and out of this pool we create the provisioning of the storage as it is needed," he said.

The maximum external capacity previously offered on the TagmaStore USP family, which was launched in 2004, was 32 Pbytes, although HDS was keen to push this figure up by developing a new set of hardware and software. "Around that time, people were asking for thin provisioning, so our engineers went back to the drawing board and came up with the USP V," said Yoshida.

A number of vendors are currently throwing their weight behind thin provisioning, a technique whereby physical disk capacity is used only as it is needed. (See EqualLogic: Thin Is In, 3PAR Debuts 'Thin Provisioning', and A Data Reduction Dossier.)

Today's introduction is a shot across the bows of rivals IBM and EMC, which are yet to deploy the technology on their own high-end products, according to analyst Tony Asaro of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "Thin provisioning is probably one of the most valuable storage services that are out there," he said.ESG estimates that typically, 30 to 50 percent of a firm's storage is not in use at a given time, hence the need for technology to make more efficient use of capacity.

At a time when vendors are cranking up their "green" strategies, HDS is also touting thin provisioning as a way for users to cut their data center power and cooling costs. (See Big Blue Launches Big Green, Copan Pushes Power Savings, Summer Storage Survival, and The Big Chill.)

At least one USP V early adopter buys is already on the lookout for energy savings. "We expect this to have a strong impact on our data center by lowering our utilization rates and our power and cooling costs," said Gary Pilafas, managing director for enterprise architecture at United Airlines, during this morning's conference call.

Despite rumors that the USP V would offer an internal capacity hike, the system launched today comes with a maximum internal capacity of 332 Tbytes, the same as the existing TagmaStore line. (See Hitachi Struts Mr. Universal, Hitachi Enchances TagmaStore, Hitachi Plans Midrange Rollout, and Midrange Makes Its Move.)

HDS told Byte and Switch that they considered upgrading from 300- to 500-Gbyte drives on the platform, which would have pushed its internal capacity up to around 576 Tbytes. But they decided against it due to drive reliability issues.As reported, the vendor also unveiled a number of local and remote replication features today, supporting more volumes and replication pairs than previous versions of TagmaStore. The replication software, for example, increases the number of systems mirrored in each data center, up to a maximum of four.

HDS also announced backplane support for 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel, something rival EMC has yet to add to its own high-end, 1-Pbyte Symmetrix DMX-3 box. (See EMC Bulks Up Systems.)

Pricing for the USP V, which will be available mid-June, starts at around $250,000. The vendor has already signed at least one OEM deal for the system, which will be sold as the XP24000 by HP. (See HP Lowers Cost of Data Storage.)

HDS' Yoshida promised that the launch of the USP V isn't the death knell for the vendor's existing TagmaStore USP products. "We're not discontinuing the legacy USP. We're going to be supporting that for some time," he said, although he did not reveal a specific timeframe.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp.0

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