Hitachi combines NAS and SAN


Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is entering the network-attached storage (NAS) market with products that allow a storage area network (SAN) and NAS to co-exist on the same storage subsystem.

The company's Hitachi Freedom NAS is the latest addition to the Freedom Data Networks line. The Freedom Lightning 9900 or Thunder 9200 disk arrays can be attached to the NAS server, which is supplied by Network Storage Solutions (NSS).

"Most vendors today provide NAS or SAN solutions, so customers have to choose the technology irrespective of the application requirements," says Kelly Tanaka, director of NAS technologies at HDS. "With our approach, customers don't have to select technology first. They can place the data where it best suits the application or business need."

Hitachi is using NSS's 1U NASengine, 2U microStor-II, and 6U SPANStor GT NAS servers. HDS and NSS entered into a distribution agreement in May, which had its roots in a service partnership inked in late January.

In configuring the Freedom NAS, either the Lightning 9900 or Thunder 9200 system is attached to the NAS engine. End users have the option of allocating part of the storage capacity for NAS filer applications, while other parts of the same storage array can be used for SAN. The NAS engine can use up to 37TB in the Lightning 9900 array or 7.2TB in the Thunder 9200.

The Hitachi Freedom NAS products start at $23,500 for the NASengine; $31,000 for the microStorII; and $93,000 for the SPANStor GT. The Freedom NAS may include multiple NAS server engines in a free-standing configuration, or in a clustered configuration for high-availability fail-over mode. End users that work in Windows NT/2000, Unix, and AS/400 environments can share files through a standard Ethernet connection.

NSS expects the microStorII to be the most popular product of the Freedom NAS products because it offers built-in Fibre Channel connectivity for SANs, according to Fred Diamond, director of marketing at NSS, in Chantilly, VA. The SPANStor GT also has Fibre Channel connectivity through an external connector.

NSS is working with Hitachi to add more functionality. "Based on the relationship, we've added features such as a journaling file system [JFS], fail-over capability, and Fibre Channel connectivity," says Diamond.

Hitachi is not the first vendor to recognize that end users are looking for SAN and NAS convergence. Several months ago, EMC introduced HighRoad software, a data-routing tool for directing traffic requests to either a Celerra NAS server or a Symmetrix-based SAN (see InfoStor, January 2001, p. 1). Large data transfers are handled over the SAN, while smaller transfers are served directly by the Celerra NAS box.

Hitachi claims its implementation of SAN and NAS is simpler than EMC's. "Our approach converges in the storage subsystem, not in the software," says Tanaka.

IBM is also shipping systems that combine NAS and SAN functionality (see InfoStor, April 2001, p. 1), and many other vendors are expected to follow. (For more information on NAS-SAN convergence, see the Special Report in next month's issue.)

In a separate announcement, NSS recently began reselling Hitachi's Thunder 9200 array along with the NSS Thunderbolt NAS storage line. In May, Version 4 of SPANStor OS was released with a JFS and support for fail-over functions between primary and secondary servers.

This article was originally published on July 01, 2001