Predicting storage needs is a difficult exercise. The best estimates can be woefully inaccurate leading to wasting unused space or having to increase storage capacity sooner than expected. Hitachi Data Systems added new features such as dynamic provisioning, zero page reclaim and storage reclamation service for their Universal Storage Platform. Coupled with professional services to assess storage needs, Hitachi is helping companies adapt to changing demands.
Dynamic provisioning simplifies administration of Hitachi's USP and makes more efficient use of storage space. Rather than sweating the details of adding volumes, assigning LUNs, migrating volumes when adding capacity, Hitachi's dynamic provisioning automatically recognizes new capacity and automatically rebalances the volumes across the available drives increasing performance. A Hitachi customer, Steve Carlberg, Principal Network Administrator, University HealthSystem Consortium, a company formed by an alliance of medical centers to improve, among other things, data processing said "reliability, ease of management, makes us look good with less people. We have 50 terabytes of storage and we don't have a dedicated storage person." Hitachi plans to bring Dynamic Provisioning to their midrange Adaptable Modular Storage 2000 family in August, 2009.
Dynamic provisioning also makes efficient storage use by virtualization the physical drives into virtual volumes, which makes storage allocation simpler and storage needs change based on application use rather than a prediction. Carlberg said "Lot of factors are driving a explosion in growth. Without thin provisioning [Hitachi's Dynamic Provisioning], I'd be buying much more disks than I am now. It's like airline reservations. I can over subscribe. I can over book about 125% of space committed. Others might be more aggressive. Allows us to hit budget cycles rather than emergency buy."
Hitachi's zero page reclaim analyzes storage volumes for physical pages that are set to zero's and reclaims them for use. If one volume is over sized, the unused physical space is returned to the available pool--the assigned storage space remains unchanged. As storage needs grow, the virtual volume is expanded from the available pool. Then the remaining storage is rebalanced across the available volumes transparently to the applications.
Hitachi also announce a professional service, the Storage Reclamation Service, targeted at companies with 100 to 150 terabytes of storage that analyzes current storage usage and generates reports and practice statements to improve storage management. The Quick Analysis, free of charge, provides analysis of upto 5 servers and describes what can be reclaimed. An Assessment is more of a commitment where an organizations storage needs are assessed, but the organization is only obliged to pay for the assessment if a predetermined and agreed upon amount of storage can be identified. For example, if a Hitachi professional services and you agree to pay of 20 terabytes are found to be reclaimable, then if less than 20 TB are found, you don't pay for the assessment.