HDS emphasizes information life-cycle management

Introduces new modular array

By Heidi Biggar

This month, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) began shipping a modular disk array (the Thunder 9580V) with twice the raw capacity, Fibre Channel connections, and LUNs and nearly twice the bandwidth of the Thunder 9570V.

In addition to the 9580V, Hitachi also unveiled a variety of new software capabilities for both its Thunder and Lightning families, as well as hardware enhancements to the Lightning 9900V series.

On the software front, HDS introduced Three Data Center Copy, a replication tool that allows users to simultaneously replicate data from one data center to two additional data centers for business continuity. Other software introductions include HiCopy and QuickShadow.

Analysts say that the higher-performing 9580V array and information life-cycle management (ILM) capabilities allowing data movement between the company's two array platforms are the highlights of the announcements.

"This announcement is a precursor to Hitachi's focus on the midrange and information life-cycle management market," says Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group consulting firm. "Most important is the fact that users can now manage data movement between Lightning and Thunder platforms for life-cycle management."

The data movement capability is enabled by Hitachi's HiCopy software, a replication tool that allows users to move data between Lightning 9900V and Thunder 9500V series arrays for data migration, centralized backup, data consolidation, and data distribution.

The idea behind HiCopy and competitive ILM tools is to enable users to optimize their storage resources so that the most mission-critical or I/O-intensive data is stored on the highest-performing arrays (i.e., Lightning) while less-mission-critical or I/O-intensive data is kept on lower-performing, less-expensive arrays (i.e., Thunder) or other secondary disk platforms until it is archived to tape.

HiCopy integrates with Hitachi HiCommand Device Manager, which provides a common management interface for the two disk platforms and the data movement process.

Hitachi officials say that the introduction of this type of replication tool is an important first step for the company into the ILM space. "We're beginning to build the infrastructure that will allow users to move data around in the network between Thunder and Lightning arrays," explains Scott Genereux, vice president of global marketing at Hitachi.

From a hardware perspective, the 9580V addresses several shortcomings of the 9570V, including LUN support, bandwidth, and capacity. "With the 9580V, Hitachi is filling the holes in the Thunder series," says Ron Johnson, a senior partner and analyst at the Evaluator Group consulting firm. The new system supports up to 2,048 LUNs, a raw capacity of 64TB, and a 7.4GBps cached bandwidth.

Despite the hardware enhancements, Johnson says that disk arrays in this class are differentiated more on software capabilities than hardware features.

John McArthur, group vice president of International Data Corp.'s (IDC) storage research program, says that Hitachi brings several important attributes to the table—notably, a common management platform (the same management software [i.e., HiCommand Device Manager] is used to manage the two disk array families), a common platform that is scalable, and a full suite of replication technologies.

According to IDC, HDS and its resellers Hewlett-Packard and Sun together shipped more than 7,100 Lightning arrays last year, which accounted for almost $1.4 billion in revenue. Shipments of Thunder arrays topped 3,500, accounting for $99 million in revenue.

Both Hewlett-Packard's StorageWorks XP and Sun's StorEdge 9900 series disk arrays are based on the Lightning 9900V.

Also new to the Thunder 9580V family is a copy-on-write snapshot capability, which allows users to create multiple point-in-time copies of data without making a full-volume backup for each snapshot; only changed data is copied.

New software support for the 9900V includes HiCopy, Open LDEV Guard, CopyCentral, and Three Data Center Copy. Open LDEV Guard, which is integrated into the 9900V series, allows users to lock disk volumes as "read-only" for regulatory compliance purposes. CopyCentral provides centralized management of mainframe environments, specifically of TrueCopy, ShadowImage, and Three Data Center Copy functions.

Pricing for the Thunder 9580V ranges from $110,000 to $500,000.

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This article was originally published on November 01, 2003