Hitachi Ups the Ante for Unified Enterprise Storage

The new Platform V mega-system offers virtually unlimited scalability plus both virtualization and thin provisioning to provide what the company claims is "the most advanced storage system on the planet."

Hitachi Data Systems May 14 introduced a new, unified enterprise storage system with performance and capacity claims that appear to border on science fiction—or at least unabashed marketing hype.

The new Universal Storage Platform V, touted as "the most advanced, intelligent storage services platform on the planet," features a mega-controller that the company claims can deliver 3.5 million IOPS (input/output operations per second) and a 500 percent increase over its top competitors in virtualized storage port performance for external storage, Hitachi Chief Technology Officer Hu Yoshida said in a conference call.

The 3.5 million IOPS compares with a top speed of 700,000 IOPS by Hitachis biggest competitor, EMC, with its Symmetrix DMX-3 storage system, Yoshida said.

The Platform V (the letter, not the Roman numeral) is designed to do many things, but it really has two main duties: support up to a whopping 247 petabytes of raw storage capacity, and serve as a central controller/coordinator for all storage systems currently working in any enterprises data center.

"We really dont care what the media is [hard disks, tape, optical disks, etc.] its immaterial," Yoshida said from company headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

"As long as it has an interface that we can connect with, we can access the storage. The Platform V will be able to utilize it within the system, whatever brand it is."

Key feature: Next-generation virtualization layer

Platform V also features a next-generation, large-scale heterogeneous virtualization layer that works hand-in-hand with Hitachis own thin-provisioning features.

"One of the most compelling aspects of the new Hitachi USP V is that it provides three dimensions of storage virtualization," said Tony Asaro, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

"The first is its internal virtualization capability that includes thin provisioning, large logical storage pools, wide striping, virtual partitions and quality of service. The second dimension of the USP V is its external storage virtualization software managing heterogeneous storage systems and its capabilities as a high-end platform that provides best-in-class performance, scalability and reliability," Asaro said.

"The third dimension is that you can take all of the considerable intelligence and functionality within the USP V and extend it to any class of storage you have in the data center," he added.

Hitachis Universal Star Network V architecture remains the only one of its kind in the storage industry featuring a crossbar switch ASIC design and separate, dedicated internal networks for data and control (meta data), Yoshida said.

He added that this enables the platform to deliver advanced storage services, such as storage-agnostic universal replication, large-scale virtualization, logical partitioning and the newly announced Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning software, large logical storage pools and wide striping.

New virtualization software—also announced May 14 by Hitachi—can manage a nearly infinite pool of virtualized storage capacity (247 petabytes), Yoshida said, effectively removing all capacity constraints for global companies centralizing storage and processing within a single geographic area.

Hitachi also announced new software for the creation of large logical storage pools, enabling hundreds of disk drives to operate on a single input/output (I/O) request simultaneously.

/zimages/6/28571.gifReport: World disk storage revenues up 6 percent over 2005. Click here to read more.

John Webster, principal analyst at Illuminata in Nashua, N.H., told eWEEK that "USP proves that Hitachi customers could use a virtualized controller to consolidate and manage arrays from other vendors.

"USP-V makes an even bigger statement about consolidating and managing from a single point of control for both mainframe and open-systems disk. Thats a threat to EMC and IBM. Its not a threat to HP because HP also sells the same device USP as their XP storage array," Webster said

Thin provisioning: a hot commodity

Hitachi made a major point in the Platform V announcement that this is the first enterprise-ready storage system to include as standard both virtualization and thin provisioning, which allows for better overall control, a lower power draw and a smaller carbon footprint.

Thin provisioning, currently a hot commodity in the storage world, is a feature that allows users of arrays to write to any amount of capacity, yet actually use only a fraction of the total physical storage required by the arrays.

Next Page: High capacity for speedier performance tradeoff.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...