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HDS Mid Summer Storage and Converged Compute Enhancements

Converged Compute, SSD Storage and Clouds

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) announced today several enhancements to their data storage and unified compute portfolio as part of their Maximize I.T. initiative.

Setting the context
As part of setting the stage for this announcement, HDS has presented the following strategy vision as part their vision for IT transformation and cloud computing.


What was announced

This announcement builds on earlier ones around HDS Unified Storage (HUS) primary storage using nand flash MLC Solid State Devices (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD's), along with unified block and file (NAS), as well Unified Compute Platform (UCP) also known as converged compute, networking, storage and software. These enhancements follow recent updates to the HDS Content Platform (HCP) for object, file and content storage.

There are three main focus areas of the announcement:

  • Flash SSD storage enhancements for HUS
  • Unified with enhanced file (aka BlueArc based)
  • Enhanced unified compute (UCP)

HDS Flash SSD acceleration
The question should not be if SSD is in your future, rather when, where, with what and how much will be needed.

As part of this announcement, HDS is releasing an all flash SSD based HUS enterprise storage system. Similar to what other vendors have done, HDS is attaching flash SSD storage to their HUS systems in place of HDD's. Hitachi has developed their own SSD module announced in 2012 (read more here). The HDS SSD module use Multi Level Cell (MLC) nand flash chips (dies) that now supports 1.6TB of storage space capacity unit. This is different from other vendors who either use nand flash SSD drive form factor devices (e.g. Intel, Micron, Samsung, SANdisk, Seagate, STEC (now WD), WD among others) or, PCIe form factor cards (e.g. FusionIO, Intel, LSI, Micron, Virident among others) or, attach a third-party external SSD device (e.g. IBM/TMS, Violin, Whiptail etc.).

Like some other vendors, HDS has also done more than simply attach a SSD (drive, PCIe card, or external device) to their storage systems calling it an integrated solution. What this means is that HDS has implemented software or firmware changes into their storage systems to manage durability and extend flash duty cycles caused by program erase (P/E) cycle wear. In addition HDS has implemented performance optimization in their storage systems to leverage the faster SSD modules, after all, faster storage media or devices need fast storage systems or controllers.

While the new all flash storage system can be initially bought with just SSD, similar to other hybrid storage solutions, hard disk drives (HDD's) can also be installed. For enabling full performance at low latency, HDS is addressing both the flash SSD modules as well as the storage systems they attach to including back-end, front-end and caching in-between.

The release enables 500,000 or half a million IOPS (no IOP size, reads or writes, random or sequential. Future firmware (non-disrupted) to enable higher performance that HDS is claiming will be 1,000,000 IOPS at under a millisecond) were indicated.

In addition to future performance improvements, HDS is also indicating increased storage space capacity of its MLC flash SSD modules (1.6TB today). Using 12 modules (1.6TB each), 154TB of flash SSD can be placed in a single rack.

HDS File and Network Attached Storage (NAS)
HUS unified NAS file system and gateway (BlueArc based) enhancements include:

  • New platforms leveraging faster processors (both Intel and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA's))
  • Common management and software tools from 3000 to new 4000 series
  • Bandwidth doubled with faster connections and more memory
  • Four 10GbE NAS serving ports (front-end)
  • Four 8Gb Fibre Channel ports (back-end)
  • FPGA leveraged for off-loading some dedupe functions (faster performance)

HDS Unified Complete Platform (UCP)
As part of this announcement, HDS is enhancing the Unified Compute Platform (UCP) offerings. HDS re-entered the compute market in 2012 joining other vendors offering unified compute, storage and networking solutions. The HDS converged data infrastructure competes with AMD (Seamicro) SM15000, Dell vStart and VRTX (for lower end market), EMC and VCE vBlock, NetApp FlexPod along with those from HP (or Moonshot micro servers), IBM Puresystems, Oracle and others.

UCP Pro for VMware vSphere

  • Turnkey converged solution (Compute, Networking, Storage, Software)
  • Includes VMware vSphere pre-installed (OEM from VMware)
  • Flexible compute blade options
  • Three storage system options (HUS, HUS VM and VSP)
  • Cisco and Brocade IP networking
  • UCP Director 3.0 with enhanced automation and orchestration software

UCP Select for Microsoft Private Cloud

  • Supports Hyper-V 3.0 server virtualization
  • Live migration with DR and resynch
  • Microsoft Fast Track certified

UCP Select for Oracle RAC

  • HDS Flash SSD storage
  • SMP x86 compute for performance
  • 2x improvements for IOPS less than 1 millisecond
  • Common management with HiCommand suite
  • Integrated with Oracle RMAN and OVM

UCP Select for SAP HANA

  • Scale out to 8TBs memory (DRAM)
  • Tier 1 storage system certified for SAP HANA DR
  • Leverages SAP HANA SAP storage connector API

What this all means?

Storage I/O trends

With these announcements HDS is extending its storage centric hardware, software and services solution portfolio for block, file and object access across different usage tiers (systems, applications, mediums). HDS is also expanding their converged unified compute platforms to stay competitive with others including Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, NEC, NetApp and Oracle among others. For environments with HDS storage looking for converged solutions to support VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle or SAP HANA these UCP systems are worth checking out as part of evaluating vendor offerings. Likewise for those who have HDS storage exploring SSD offerings, these announcements give opportunities to enable consolidation as do the unified file (NAS) offerings.

Note that now HDS does not have a public formalized message or story around PCIe flash cards, however they have relationships with various vendors as part of their UCP offerings.

Overall a good set of incremental enhancements for HDS to stay competitive and leverage their field proven capabilities including management software tools.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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