Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has a long history of providing high-performance, highly available, and feature-rich enterprise storage solutions, and HDS has proven to be a trusted provider across tens of thousands of customers worldwide. Like the customers of other enterprise IT providers, HDS customers have a large installed base of legacy applications — relational databases, messaging and collaboration applications, and file-based data stores — even as they are building out a wide range of newer, 3rd Platform computing workloads in mobile computing, social media, big data analytics, and cloud.

The strong capabilities of HDS in enterprise storage virtualization have helped the company’s clients manage heterogeneous environments and easily evolve to newer storage technologies without disrupting application services. These latest announcements build on that heritage, providing a comprehensive set of software-defined infrastructure management capabilities to help HDS customers bridge installed IT infrastructure and the newer, more agile software-defined infrastructure that is required for 3rd Platform computing environments.
The HDS software-defined infrastructure (SDI) strategy includes:

  • Bringing all midrange and high-end enterprise storage offerings under a single software-based management environment — Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) — which effectively extends HDS enterprise-class data services offering down into the midrange
  • Introducing a new suite of software tools that deliver the abstraction, access, and automation necessary to effectively manage storage to meet business objectives while bridging older, more hardware-defined infrastructure and newer, more software-defined infrastructure; newly announced tools include Hitachi Automation Director, Hitachi Infrastructure Director, Hitachi Data Instance Director, and a new version of Hitachi Unified Compute Platform Director
  • Releasing storage platform enhancements, including an aggressive refresh of the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), three new Hitachi Unified Compute Platform models, and a new hyperconverged offering called the Hitachi Hyper Scale-Out Platform (HSP)

Customers are looking to software-defined solutions to make their IT infrastructures more agile and easier to manage. With its recent announcements, Hitachi Data Systems is making several moves in the software-defined infrastructure area. First, HDS is extending SVOS to all of its midrange VSP models. HDS now supports a single operating environment (SVOS) that provides a consistent set of storage management capabilities across a newly invigorated line of VSP models, including the all flash VSP F series. SVOS supports proven enterprise-class data services for snapshots, clones, QoS and replication, external storage virtualization applicable to a wide range of heterogeneous storage platforms, and continuous availability that spans datacenters with its global-active device support.

An extremely resilient platform, VSP delivers “five-nines plus” availability with hot plug everything, online drive and controller firmware upgrades, and nondisruptive data migration. SVOS also supports all-flash at high densities (38.4TB/U with Hitachi Accelerated Flash) as well as hybrid configurations that leverage self-tuning automated tiering and a new feature added to Hitachi Dynamic Tiering, called active flash, to maintain optimized performance regardless of evolving workloads. Other key enterprise features include data-at-rest encryption and storage efficiency technologies like thin provisioning and primary file data deduplication.

HDS has also introduced a new set of software management tools that help customers more easily manage a mixed environment that includes both older and newer workloads. These tools implement many of the agility and automation advantages of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) for use with all HDS storage platforms, helping simplify provisioning, enable cross-platform data mobility, and deploy centralized monitoring and policy-based storage management for more automated and reliable operations.

The goal of Hitachi Data Systems with these products is to set up a software-defined, application-led storage provisioning and deployment model, knowing that this provides a more intuitive management paradigm well understood by the virtual administrators who are increasingly managing storage. Hitachi Automation Director provides service catalog–based administration for seasoned storage administrators to manage traditional HDS storage platforms, leveraging intelligent automation with the flexibility to create and customize infrastructure services. Hitachi Automation Director enables storage provisioning from predefined, application-specific templates and allows administrators to select and associate different levels of services (i.e., bronze, silver, gold) with particular applications when they are deployed. Hitachi Automation Director also enables workflow integration with external service portals through a REST-based API, another important capability to enable reliable self-service capabilities.

These tools implement many of the agility and automation advantages of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) for use with all HDS storage platforms, helping simplify provisioning, enable cross-platform data mobility, and deploy centralized monitoring and policy-based storage management for more automated and reliable operations.

Hitachi Infrastructure Director is targeted for use more by the IT generalists who are increasingly taking over storage management responsibilities, providing a higher-level but more intuitive cross-platform management interface, starting with midtier HDS storage environments. Infrastructure Director incorporates guided, recommended configuration practices, reducing the number of steps needed for system configuration and storage management operations. It offers the ability to configure and provision storage without in-depth knowledge of underlying infrastructure resource details. The new version of Hitachi Unified Compute Platform Director focuses on integrating cloud services orchestration and includes new automation features and other features that make the newly expanded platform portfolio easier to manage and broaden access.

Hitachi Data Instance Director provides centralized management of all snapshot-related workflows, including the creation and retention of application-consistent snapshots and clones in both block- and file-based environments, as well as associated replication-based workflows. This product provides centralized management of these related features for data protection, recovery, data mobility, and test and development purposes, among others.

New hardware platforms include the new VSP G200 to VSP G800 models, the VSP F series all flash models, three new Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) models (UCP 1000, UCP 2000, and UCP 6000), and a new hyperconverged platform targeted for big data and analytics environments (HSP). All of these platforms sport embedded REST-based APIs to provide access for integration purposes, with the ultimate goal being a suite of device, infrastructure, and services APIs that enable full access to all platform functionality in a programmatic manner. The new VSPs have increased cores, connectivity, and cache to drive 3x the performance of the older models, supporting up to 5.8PB of raw capacity. The expansion to the UCP portfolio includes the UCP 1000, a new low-end EVO RAIL offering running VMware Virtual SAN; UCP 2000, based on the new VSP G200 and Brocade converged networking; and a new high-end UCP 6000, based on the larger new VSP models and either Brocade or Cisco networking. UCP 1000 and UCP 2000 integrate a new, lower-cost server, while UCP 6000 includes the feature-rich Hitachi Compute Blade 2500 server.

Hitachi Hyper Scale-Out Platform (HSP) is a new hyperconverged, highly available platform built around a scale-out design that is targeted for big data and analytics workloads, such as Hadoop clusters, and comes with broad OpenStack compatibility. Future releases will be available with prebuilt analytics applications and solutions for targeted verticals that leverage technology from Pentaho, a Hitachi Group company. HSP accelerates solution delivery to Hitachi Data Systems customers in the telco, healthcare, surveillance, oil and gas, automotive, and other verticals where fast analysis of massive data sets directly drives competitive advantage. The value proposition for this new scale-out platform in these environments is to provide an automated, self-managed storage environment with dramatically reduced setup time that allows customers to run virtualized applications (on KVM) at the data source, speed data ingest, and accelerate time to results for data-in-place analysis.


Challenges

The challenge for HDS is in how quickly the company moves newer technologies into its portfolio. With a reputation for mature offerings, the company cannot afford to move too soon, but this may lead Hitachi Data Systems to lose some business among customers that may desire earlier adoption of these technologies. The disruptive technologies of the past decade — virtualization, data deduplication, converged infrastructure, and flash — all have a solid place in the HDS enterprise storage portfolio, and the HDS strategy brings two more of them — software-defined storage and hyperconvergence — into the fold.

The strength of Hitachi Data Systems is the company’s proven track record of mature, enterprise-class storage solutions that cover a wide range of primary and secondary requirements. The challenge for HDS is in maintaining that reputation as it continues to provide new technology options for its customers in a timely manner without forcing a break with installed platforms.