NAS Up Next for Hitachi

TagmaStore blade is company's first step in NAS market assault

April 5, 2005

3 Min Read
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Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) entered the NAS market today, by way of blades for its TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP) high-end SAN system.

Claus Mikkelsen, head of Hitachis hardware infrastructure group, says the blades are just the first step of a full-fledged move into the NAS market.

“There’s some money to be made out there, and we intend to get it,” he asserts. “We are going head first with all the might we can muster into NAS.”

For now, though, it's only beginning. Hitachi is merely chasing a small piece of the NAS market -- TagmaStore customers. And Mikkelsen admits TagmaStore sales are still in the “tire-kicking” stage.

Hitachi has concentrated on SANs until now, though it has resold NAS gateways from Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) since 2002. The NetApp partnership will continue until Hitachi augments its new high-end blades with gateways and filers of its own for NAS midrange systems and SMBs. Hitachi gives no public timetable for this future NAS gear, however.IDC forecasts the NAS market will grow to more than $3 billion by 2008. It is presently dominated by NetApp and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hitachi’s major rival on the SAN side. NetApp and EMC accounted for nearly 70 percent of the NAS market in the fourth quarter of 2004, IDC reports (see IDC Storage Tracker Released).

At this point, Hitachi's new blades have a better chance of driving TagmaStore sales than making Hitachi a major NAS player. The blades integrate with TagmaStore, so they need no rack space or cabling to the SAN and use less heat than gateways. Hitachi also says the blades can transfer NAS data to any storage system attached to the TagmaStore, including EMC Symmetrix and Clariion and IBM Corp.'s (NYSE: IBM) FastT and Shark SANs (see Hitachi Virtualizes EMC and Hitachi, IBM Virtualize Each Other). Neither EMC nor IBM supports NAS blades in their SAN systems.

Hitachi could use more TagmaStore sales. Financial analysts say TagmaStore has yet to pick up much market share in its high stakes competition against EMC's Symmetrix and IBM’s new DS8000 systems (see IBM's New Shark Tale).

Mikkelsen says it's just a matter of time before TagmaStore sales accelerate. “We’re coming out of the tire-kicking stage,” Mikkelsen says. “We go through three stages on products like this. First there are early adopters, then tire kickers, then larger scale adoption. I think we’re on the verge of the third stage.”

Hitachi’s NAS blades scale to 512 TBytes, with up to eight blades in an array. Hitachi won’t give pricing, but spokespeople say the blades cost one-third as much as comparable gateways or filers.Mikkelsen says Hitachi planned to get into NAS before it loudly launched TagmaStore as a "universal storage platform" last September (see Hitachi Struts Mr. Universal). Now that Hitachi has SAN and NAS, can iSCSI be far behind? Mikkelsen says it will be easy to develop an iSCSI blade, but he sees no market for it yet.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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