In an effort to catch up to rivals in some areas and better differentiate itself in others, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. is readying a product blitz that includes new backup appliances, IP storage, management software and vertical-oriented bundled services.
On the hardware and software agenda are object-based storage and switch-resident software, due later this year, and arrays that use ATA drives, due early next year, according to executives of the Santa Clara, Calif., division of Tokyos Hitachi Ltd.
The ATA arrays will be useful for backup and slow, but inexpensive, online storage, according to Christine Wallis, Hitachis senior vice president for global strategy and planning. “The value proposition is compelling enough that itll probably be used for both” in Hitachis plans, Wallis said.
Wallis and Chief Technology Officer Hu Yoshida declined to elaborate on object storage or distributed software or Version 3.0 of the high-end Lightning array. But according to one analyst, Shebly Seyrafi, of A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., in St. Louis, Version 3.0 is due early next year, with new management features, IP replication and supercomputer-derived parallel processing. A version beyond that, likely in 2006, may use photonic switching, Seyrafi said.
Another hardware expansion in the works is a NAS (network-attached storage) blade for Lightning, code-named eNAS, officials said. While sales of Hitachis NAS front end from partner Network Appliance Inc. are going well, a separate blade product, expected this summer, will be better-suited for users starting from scratch, officials said.
HDS is also mulling software acquisitions and development, Wallis said. Officials this summer will determine how to spend roughly $660 million allocated for that, she said.
One space appealing to HDS is application-centric storage management.
“The whole notion that you should be automatically able to adjust your storage mix to suit your data requirements, we think is a very worthy objective. That link hasnt been established the way it should be,” Wallis said.
Other applications coming this year will plug into the HiCommand suite; they include Policy Manager, to automate workflows and create and manage policies; Protection Manager, to schedule and automate data replication and backup/restore options; and Provisioning Manager, to automate application requirements, officials said.
Dale Kramer, a senior systems administrator at hospital equipment maker Steris Corp., in Mentor, Ohio, uses the Lightning 9960 and midrange Thunder 9200 system, with 6.5 terabytes, in two data centers.
Asked about HDS plans, Kramer said, “The NAS blade and the ATA storage, thats right in line. Were already discussing using NAS. The ATA storage, were possibly looking at for backups.”
Hitachis service and support have been solid, Kramer said, but the company needs to elaborate on management details. To that end, Hitachi plans to hire 1,000 employees over the next three years to support industry consulting that is focused on vertical markets, according to Ken Beaudry, senior vice president and general manager, global solutions services.
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