HDS adds disk-less controller

By Ann Silverthorn

—Today, Hitachi Data Systems introduced a controller-only version of its TagmaStore Network Storage Controller model NSC55, which allows midrange customers to take advantage of features such as virtualization without having to invest in more storage. The NSC55 disk-less version retains the features of the original NSC55, but does not offer any additional enhancements.

Hitachi first announced the NSC55 rack-mount array in July of 2005. The NSC55 was scaled down from the TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP). Previously, customers had to accept at least one array in the NSC55, which can scale from 1.2TB to 72TB, but many users did not require extra capacity.

Because of inefficient management, storage capacity is often over-subscribed and under-utilized, according to Hitachi officials. Utilizing the virtualization capabilities in the NSC55 controllers, companies can now leverage their existing resources, and as those arrays get older or capacity needs increase, they can add disk storage to the NSC55 disk-less version. The older arrays can then be retained for use in a tiered storage strategy.
The NSC55 is powered by Hitachi's Universal Star Network crossbar switch architecture, which delivers the controller-based virtualization, logical partitioning, and universal replication found in the TagmaStore USP.

The NSC55 and NSC55 disk-less version include a multi-processor global cache disk controller that any server can access through the non-blocking crossbar switch. All servers can view the same cache image, but access can be load-balanced across multiple virtual host ports.

The crossbar switch allows multiple data-intensive applications to run concurrently. Switched internal networks separate cache and path resources for data and control information, which enables the controller to dynamically optimize storage resources. The NSC55 disk-less version is powered by 32 processors designed for heavy I/O workloads.

"The controller-only version will support all of the external storage that the Universal Storage Platform and Network Storage Controller currently support for virtualization," says Claus Mikkelsen, chief scientist at Hitachi. "This includes all ranges of EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi products."

Mikkelsen says the NSC55 disk-less controller will compete against other network storage appliances, intelligent switches, and other technologies that run in the fabric, although the NSC55 is not in the fabric.

The NSC55 disk-less controller lists for $90,000 with 4GB of cache and 8 ports, and scales up to $150,000 for 64GB of cache and 48 ports. The $90,000 model includes a virtualization engine, plus the replication and other functionality in Hitachi's arrays. The original NSC55 with disk storage starts at $150,000.

This article was originally published on April 24, 2006