Hitachi targets SMBs with SATA array

By Heidi Biggar

Hitachi Data Systems yesterday announced availability of its first disk array for the small to medium-sized business (SMB) market--the Serial ATA-based Thunder 9520V Workgroup Modular Storage System.

The International Data Corp. (IDC) research firm says that the SMB market is poised for significant growth next year. According to IDC forecasts, SMBs will spend about 12% more on storage in 2005 than they did in 2004, with 40% of their storage dollars going to the purchase of disk arrays.

Ray Boggs, IDC's vice president of small/medium business research, attributes this growth to user demand for capacity to store e-mail and other digital images, concern about security and backup, and more widespread availability of easy-to-use, low-cost storage systems.

Boggs also notes that SAN adoption is on the rise among SMBs, particularly the biggest "small" businesses (those with 50 to 99 employees) and "mid-sized" companies (100 to 999 employees). In a recent IDC survey of more than 1,300 SMBs, roughly 20% of respondents said they were "at least looking at SANs as part of their storage planning."

While Hitachi's 9520V array isn't exactly "low-end," analysts say that the system does put the company on the SMB map. "HDS now has a competitive product in the SMB space, but it still does not have an ultra low-end system," says Tony Asaro, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group's Lab operation. "The 9520V competes against EMC's CLARiiON CX300, not the AX100."

Other competing disk arrays include Hewlett-Packard's StorageWorks EVA 300, IBM's TotalStorage DS4300, and Sun's StorEdge 6130 (which Sun OEMs from Engenio).

The Thunder 9520V is a "self-contained" SATA-based disk platform that does not support mixed drive types and doesn't allow for an upgrade path once the maximum capacity of the system is reached. The array can scale to more than 13TB, has a throughput of up to 4.2GBps, and leverages the same software and engineering as higher-end Thunder disk arrays.

"It's an SMB, departmental and remote office array with high performance and enterprise-class software functionality," says John Webster, senior analyst at the Data Mobility Group consulting firm.

Resellers and integrators also give the array high marks. "The 9520V provides high performance and scalable, low-cost capacity," says Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, one of Hitachi's channel partners. "It provides the building blocks for advanced data management functions and enables companies to decouple their disk requirement from their server investments."

The disk array comes with Hitachi's Resource Utility Manager software. Hitachi ShadowImage, In-State Replication, Copy-on-Write (formerly QuickShadow), and Cross-System Copy (formerly HiCopy) software are available as options.

In an effort to appeal to first-time SMB SAN users, Hitachi offers the 9520V in pre-configured SAN packages with components from partners Brocade, Emulex, and McData.

"The 9520V is designed for the channel and the SMB market, where we haven't really played before," says Kevin Sampson, Hitachi's director of product marketing, modular storage systems. "The SAN Starter Kit enables our channel partners to approach users in the SMB space with a SATA-based product."

SAN users in the SMB market have the same storage problems as larger companies, adds Sampson. The 9520V allows them not only to consolidate their storage onto a single platform without sacrificing availability or reliability, but also to drive down the cost of managing that storage.

The Thunder 9520V is available from Hitachi's resellers and is also available on a limited basis from Hitachi's direct sales force.

While the Thunder 9520V is designed to be used as primary storage, it can also be implemented in a tiered storage environment with Hitachi's high-end TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform disk array (see HDS takes aim at EMC, IBM ).

A 3.4TB dual-controller 9520V array with HiTrack Resource Manager software lists for $22,000 to $24,000, depending on the channel partner.

This article was originally published on December 08, 2004