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HDS aims virtual Lightning at EMC, IBM

Discovers virtualisation just as everyone else is trying to forget it

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Hitachi Data Systems has combined hardware and multi-vendor storage management in its drive to recapture the market share its Lightning arrays have lost in recent months to EMC and IBM.

Its latest TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP) includes both a new high-end storage array and a virtualising SAN controller capable of managing heterogeneous storage. The box will also be sold by existing HDS partners HP, as the StorageWorks XP12000, and Sun.

"The most important thing about TagmaStore is it's open," says John Hickman, storage business solutions manager for HDS EMEA. "You can also attach other storage at the back end and manage it as if it were internal to the USP."

The box uses virtualisation to unify the physical storage, for example allowing HDS tools to be used to replicate data across non-HDS hardware, aggregate storage pools and create private virtual storage machines that appear as separate storage subsystems. Hickman says the real aim is for HDS to become the software management supplier of choice.

"If it's worth it to consolidate storage, it's also worth having a single set of management software," he says. "We have tried to be an open software company for years, following SNIA standards and so on. We hope companies will see our software as better, and beneath that we also hope they'll see our hardware as better and buy it too."

Storage virtualisation and heterogenous management are nothing new though, being available from the likes of DataCore, IBM and Softek, as Malte Rademacher, EMC's southern Europe marketing director, points out.

"HDS has nothing on the software side that's not available from other companies - I can't see anything they can claim leadership on," he says. "This is something they had to do because they were losing ground.

"On the hardware side they're trying to get where we were in 2003, and they're going against the market, because the market is going for flexibility and modularity. They still have a high entrance cost too, so it's not dissimilar from our high end arrays."

However, Hickman says HDS's advantage lies in the performance and scalability of its controller hardware. TagmaStore can have up to 332TB of internal storage, while its controller offers 68GB/sec of cached bandwidth and can manage up to 32PB of storage in total. Users can upgrade it without service interruption and it provides Fibre Channel, FICON, ESCON and NAS access. ®

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