HDS Chucks Up IP SAN Placeholder

There's Thunder but no Lightning, as Hitachi builds first iSCSI SAN with low-end Nishan box

November 21, 2003

2 Min Read
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Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is using an iSCSI gateway from McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) as the basis for its first IP SAN offering, rather than developing its own technology for the emerging IP storage networking market.

The offering combines McData's low-end Eclipse 1620 switch -- developed by Nishan Systems, which McData acquired in August -- with Hitachi's Thunder 9570V storage system. The 1620 acts as a gateway between IP networks and Fibre Channel storage, with two Gigabit Ethernet ports and two FC ports (see HDS, McData Team on iSCSI and McData Speeds Out IP Switch).

HDS's announcement yesterday is basically just an extension of the reseller deal the company already had in place with Nishan, although HDS was reselling Nishan's gear mainly for SAN extension applications.

HDS says it's targeting the bundle at small and medium-sized enterprises and asserts that the Nishan/Thunder combo is a "lower-cost alternative to Fibre Channel SANs." But with a starting price of $60,000 for 500 Gbytes of disk capacity, it's not exactly more affordable than traditional SANs.

What gives?According to HDS, one of the main drivers for the deal with McData was time-to-market considerations. "Our partnership with McData has enabled us to bring this solution to market quickly with a combination of products and services that allows customers to rapidly and cost-effectively achieve the benefits of networked storage," said Scott Genereux, VP of marketing and business development at HDS, in a company press release.

Meanwhile, there has been no mention of HDS's IP blade option for its high-end Lightning storage arrays (see HDS Sets iSCSI Target). All that HDS will say is that "additional iSCSI offerings will be announced in 2004," which indicates the already-delayed target for the Lightning IP module of the fourth quarter of 2003 has been pushed back yet again.

It seems that HDS wanted to get something IP-related out the door so that it wouldn't appear to be trailing too far behind its chief rival, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). EMC started offering iSCSI interfaces for its Symmetrix DMX systems last quarter (see Is EMC Overshooting on iSCSI?).

Still, HDS's move is one more indication that there's growing market demand for iSCSI. Yesterday Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced that it has qualified 14 iSCSI-based hardware products, including those from McData (see Microsoft Blesses iSCSI Hardware).

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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