Hitachi shrinks USP for midrange

By Kevin Komiega

It has been just a few months since Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) overhauled its enterprise-class Universal Storage Platform (USP). Now the company has rounded out the USP line with the introduction of a smaller version that brings the same virtualization, thin provisioning, and tiered storage capabilities of the USP V to midrange customers in a rack-mounted, 10U form factor.

Like its enterprise counterpart, the new USP VM serves as a storage services platform with the same heterogeneous storage services available in the USP V, including Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning software, Universal Volume Manager with support for up to 96PB of virtualized storage, Large Logical Storage Pools, and Virtual Partition Manager.

The system is available in two versions: The standard version comes with a storage controller and SAS, SATA, or Fibre Channel disks, while the other version is a disk-less, controller-only model designed to deliver virtualization on legacy hardware.

The disk-less USP VM separates commodity disks from the Hitachi Network Storage Controller to provide storage, data, and content services. This enables users to buy the USP V platform and all of its functionality without being forced to buy more capacity, according to Claus Mikkelsen, a chief scientist at Hitachi and one of the architects of the USP platform. He says the USP VM addresses a product gap in the storage industry.

“The USP VM is for companies that might think of themselves as small or midrange storage customers but, in fact, they have enterprise requirements and may not be ready to buy the USP V,” says Mikkelsen. “The rack-mounted variant of the USP V bridges the gap between typical enterprise customers and mid-market customers.”

There are also some compatibility differences that separate the two USP VM systems. For example, the standard model supports the Hitachi Content Archive Platform (HCAP) but the disk-less version does not.

The patriarch of the HDS storage family-the USP V-which debuted in May, touts a total capacity of 247PB with a performance ceiling of five million I/Os per second (IOPS) at a starting price of $250,000. HDS quickly followed up with the Hitachi Content Archive Platform (HCAP) 2.0, which attaches to a virtual storage pool via the USP V to serve as an archive tier with support for up to 400 million objects. The USP VM is the final piece of the USP V puzzle.

The disk-less version of the USP VM is priced from approximately $60,000. Pricing for the standard version varies based on disk format, capacity, and software options.

The target customer for the disk-less version of the USP VM is essentially anyone who is attempting to consolidate and use existing heterogeneous storage assets. The USP VM could be of particular interest to the growing number of organizations implementing virtual server environments, according to John Webster, principal IT advisor at the Illuminata consulting firm.

“Users are starting to realize that if they can consolidate, virtualize, and control growth on the server side, they can do the same thing on the storage side,” says Webster. “HDS could see a lot of traction with the USP VM among VMware users.”

EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Sun



  • Up to 96PB of total storage capacity under management, including up to 72TB of internal Fibre Channel storage
  • Heterogeneous multi-platform connectivity: Fibre Channel, ESCON, and FICON, NAS, and iSCSI (future option)
  • Virtualization of internal and externally attached storage from Hitachi, EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun
  • Dynamic Provisioning Software for thin provisioning
  • Transparent, non-disruptive movement of data between storage tiers with HiCommand Tiered Storage Manager
  • Replication across heterogeneous platforms
  • Active workload balancing and tuning
  • Fourth-generation Universal Star Network crossbar switch architecture

This article was originally published on October 01, 2007