Hitachi Data Systems announces Unified Compute Platform
Another key element HDS is highlighting is an intelligent orchestration layer for automated dynamic management of servers, storage, network and applications as a collective unit
“We want to highlight the differences we can bring to the table, and we think we are offering the market something very unique here,” Xu said. “Other solutions are still at phase one — the integration of hardware, combining servers, storage and network hardware in bundles. Bundles do realize savings, but they don’t solve management issues. Phase 2 is the integration of management, and that’s when you realize greater savings. That’s what will be available when we bring the platform to market early next year. We are offering the market a true orchestration layer which enables IT to align IT resources with business needs.”"
It’s that ‘early next year’ part that may pose some problems for HDS.
“It seems a little early to be announcing a product with a 2011 timeline,” said Dave Pearson, Senior Analyst Storage at IDC Canada. “However, HDS has promised me a live demo of the system immediately, which is a mark in their favour, and they will be running some demos tomorrow in Vegas as well, I believe.”
Xu said that components will also be available before the full release early next year.
“We are taking a phased approach, and you will hear from us in between now and next year,” Xu said. “There is a working prototype. This isn’t a slideware announcement.”
Another possible problem may be that while longtime HDS collaborator Microsoft is on board here, through a worldwide OEM agreement to distribute Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center suite and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 products, no networking partner has yet been announced, something that the Cisco-EMC combo is likely to note.
“We are working with data networking partners,” Xu said. “The specifics of that plan will be announced at some point in the future.”
Another key issue HDS faces is its’ public identification — at least in North America — as purely a storage provider. Xu says HDS sees this as a positive.
“Our storage platform is all about tight integration, and customers know and value this,” Xu said. “All that technology can also be leveraged by the orchestrator.”
IDC’s Pearson sees risk here as well though, in what is basically a messaging issue.
“For a decade, HDS has meant storage, and storage only, and changing gears to try and have a hand in a converged infrastructure play is going to require a big shift in the both the image they are portraying and the messages they are pushing both to consumers and partners,” Pearson said. “At this point, our data suggests that HDS’ perception in the market does not align with this play particularly well. We’ll see what kind of resources they are willing to dedicate to this undertaking in the next year.”
Despite these challenges, Pearson thinks this is a move HDS needed to make.
“I think it’s important for them to be involved with a converged infrastructure play. With other vendors either pushing a self-actuated or partner approach to CI, I don’t think they can afford to get locked out of the market. Smarter storage is critical to virtualized and cloud or cloud-like environments, and buyers are indicating that integration, management and ease of entry into these environments are going to be as important as pure storage performance.”
The initial set of integrated components will include:
- Storage, Server and Network: Hitachi Universal Storage Platform® V, Hitachi blade servers, and Fibre Channel and Ethernet components.
- Orchestration Software: An extensible software layer developed by Hitachi delivers automated, end-to-end management of all processes for server, storage, network and applications through a simplified, role-based management portal.
- Microsoft Software: As an integral part of the solution, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager will be tightly integrated as well as Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.
- Virtualization Technologies: Leading storage and server virtualization solutions will be provided by the Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V, Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning and the Hitachi Storage Cluster for Microsoft Hyper-V. Support for Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware hypervisors will be provided.The platform is unlikely to have major channel impact, at least initially. It is designed for very large enterprises with massive scalability requirements, or which are looking to transition to a private cloud within their data centers.
“The target customer is enterprise-class large datacenters,” Xu said. “This is not going to be a mid-market channel driven play, although there will be a detailed channel plan, which will be driven by customer demand, closer to the General Availability date. “In the medium and long term, when industry gets standardized on the technology, we can see smaller set of packages being available.”