Hitachi Plans Midrange Rollout

Brings TagmaStore virtualization platform downstream to try and score in the midrange

July 6, 2005

5 Min Read
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Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is bringing its TagmaStore family to the midrange in hopes of gaining ground in the fastest growing SAN segment (see Midrange Makes Its Move).

Early next week, Hitachi plans to announce three midrange arrays plus its new TagmaStore Network Storage Controller, the NSC55, Byte and Switch has learned. The NSC55 is a scaled-down version of the controller at the heart of Hitachis TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP), the series of enterprise systems HDS rolled out last September (see Hitachi Struts Mr. Universal). Like the USP systems, Hitachi says its midrange systems will work with other vendors’ hardware to virtualize storage, putting it all in one big pool. The NSC55 is positioned at the high end of the midrange market.

Hitachi is officially keeping mum on the midrange systems – a spokeswoman says there will be an announcement Monday, but will not confirm or deny whether it's about midrange SANs or not. According to several sources familiar with the product rollout, however, Hitachi will launch two midrange arrays Monday with an SMB version following in August.

The new arrays include the TagmaStore Adaptable Modular Storage (AMS)200 and AMS500, both pitched at the low and middle segments of the midrange market. They will replace the Thunder 9530V and 9570V systems, while Hitachi will keep the Thunder 9885V at the high end of the midrange (see Hitachi Boasts New Thunder).

The AMS200 and AMS500 will be available in single- and dual-controller configurations and support Fibre Channel and SATA intermix drive trays. The AMS500 holds 14 drive trays for a maximum capacity of 88.5 TBytes, compared to 40.5 TBytes capacity for the AMS200. The AMS500 has more cache memory – 8 GBytes compared to 4 GBytes for the AMS200 – and it supports 4 Gbit/s Fibre Channel host connectivity.The TagmaStore Workgroup Modular Storage System (WMS)100 due in August also supports single or dual controllers, but is SATA-only with a maximum capacity of 42 TBytes and 2 GBytes of cache memory.

Hitachi’s new systems are a work in progress. Software applications such as Universal Replicator, Business Continuity Manager, and Copy on Write Snapshot won’t be available in the first release of the NSC55 series. And Hitachi plans NAS blades for its WMS100 and AMS200, but not until the fourth quarter (see NAS Up Next for Hitachi).

Still, Hitachi is banking on its NSC55 controller to make its mark on the midrange, where it has lagged against competitors EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). (See Tables 1 and 2 below for comparisons of HDS's new gear against leading competitors.)

Hitachi maintains the array is the best place to virtualize storage to simplify data management, replication, and migration, and in that regard its virtualization strategy differs from that of IBM and EMC. IBM uses an in-band Storage Virtualization Controller (SVC) device, placed between the host and storage, and EMC in May launched its Invista out-of-band virtualization appliance (see EMC Unveils Invista, EMC Takes Storage Router for a Spin, and EMC & IBM in Virtual Skirmish).

An analyst familiar with Hitachi’s new systems says its success may come down to whether it convinces customers its method of virtualization is the best. Hitachi has been ahead of EMC in virtualization, and EMC considers the first version of Invista a high-end product. However, IBM has had early success in the midrange, with IBM claiming 1,000 customers for SVC.“It’s not a paradigm-shifting announcement,” says the analyst, who asks to remain anonymous. “But the virtualization gives Hitachi a mid-tier product that EMC won't have until the middle of next year at this price range. Hitachi's virtualization performance should be similar to IBM’s, with IBM having a major edge in implementations.”

The ability to target EMC could be key. IDC says midrange systems from $15,000 to $150,000 is the fastest growing SAN segment. EMC has cashed in with its midrange Clariions to hold the SAN market share lead for 2004 and the first quarter of 2005, according to IDC and Gartner Inc. (see NetworkIP Measures IP QOS, Storage Sales Up, Says Gartner, and EMC Growth Continues).

HP and IBM also launched new midrange systems over the past six weeks. HP revamped its EVA family in May, and IBM rolled out a 4-Gbit/s system it sells through an OEM deal with Engenio last month (see HP Plans EVA Facelift and IBM Drives 4-Gbit/s). EMC is expected to upgrade its Clariion family in the fourth quarter of this year.

Table 1: HDS TagmaStore AMS 200 vs. Competition

EMC Clariion CX 300

HP EVA 4000

HDS AMS200

IBM DS4500

Controllers

1 or 2

2

1 or 2

1 or 2

Max. Capacity

19.2 Tbytes

16.8 Tbytes

40.5 Tbytes

67 Tbytes

Max. Cache

2 Gbytes

2 Gbytes

4 Gbytes

2 Gbytes

Drive Interface

FC or ATA

FC or FATA

FC/SATA Intermix

FC/SATA Intermix

Ports

4 2-Gbit/s

4 2-Gbit/s

4 2-Gbit/s

4 2-Gbit/s

Table 2: HDS TagmaStore AMS 500 vs. Competition

EMC Clariion CX 500

HP EVA 6000

HDS AMS500

IBM DS4800

Controllers

2

2

2

2

Max. Capacity

38.4 Tbytes

33.6 Tbytes

88.5 Tbytes

67 Tbytes

Max. Cache

4 Gbytes

2 Gbytes

8 Gbytes

8 Gbytes

Drive Interface

FC or ATA

FC or FATA

FC/SATA Intermix

FC/SATA Intermix

Ports

4 2-Gbit/s

4 2-Gbit/s

4 4-Gbit/s

4 4-Gbit/s

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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