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Four pillars lead to storage wisdom

SNS Europe talks with Steve Murphy, Vice President, UK, Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), about the specific technologies and thought processes that the company brings to the storage networking industry in the UK. Virtualisation, automation, cloud-readiness and sustainability are key as HDS introduces its Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) – said to be the industry’s first three dimensional scaling platform.

 

Date: 1 Oct 2010

SNS: Can you provide some brief background as to the history of HDS within the storage networking industry to date?

SM: As Hitachi Data Systems is part of the Hitachi group, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary, we have a great heritage of engineering and technology.

The past 20 years have seen a great deal of innovation in the storage networking industry and HDS has been at the forefront of much of that. We developed the foundations for storage virtualisation back in 1995 and by 1998 the company had designed the industry’s first asynchronous replication process for open systems. By the year 2000, we had built the first scalable storage architecture for SAN and over the next five years enabled our customers to move data without host intervention and take advantage of dynamic storage tiering.

SNS: What are the main customer pain points that HDS comes across in the UK right now?

SM: Customers have two main areas of concern: demand from within the business and external requirements.

Data volumes continue to increase at around 30 percent per year, and it’s a real challenge for storage managers to deal with. It is not simply an issue of running out of capacity – data management becomes a problem. Customers have often been struggling to tier, manage and archive their data in an efficient way that also meets service levels internally. This creates the need for greater efficiency and automation of storage processes.

The second area of pressure is the need to comply with regulations and restrictions from industry bodies, governments and even city authorities. Many of these are concerned with reducing power consumption, driving the demand for environmentally sound IT.

SNS: And are any of these UK-specific, or are they ‘universal’ pain points?

SM: The pain points are broadly universal but of course each customer has a unique structure and set of regulations that apply to their business. For this reason, you can’t approach customers with ‘one size fits all’ technology. It needs to be flexible and adapt to the company’s unique situation.

SNS: Specifically, how did the credit crunch affect the UK storage networking market – and are the effects still being felt?

SM: Each European economy responded differently to the global downturn and the storage markets in particular have demonstrated this. The decline in the UK storage industry was not as dramatic as elsewhere in Europe – the Russian market, for example, took a 40 percent nose dive – but the storage industry in the UK is not recovering as quickly, so the net effect is similar.

SNS: HDS is one of the major, global storage players – how does the company differentiate itself from these other Tier 1 vendors – both globally, and in the UK in particular?

SM: HDS has three differentiators: our technology, our values and our people.

In technology, we are the industry-leader in storage virtualisation, with a host of industry firsts to our name.

The core values of harmony, sincerity and pioneering spirit run through the Hitachi Group and have a real impact on the way we do business. The most important differentiator however is our people – they work extremely hard to understand our customers and their unique challenges. They make our business what it is.

SNS: How does HDS work with the Channel in the UK – and how do you see this relationship developing over time?

SM: Our business in the UK is divided into direct and indirect sales - indirect sales are through the channel. We have a limited number of channel partners and each one specialises in a specific segment or sector in the market.

In this way, our partners become an extension of our business and have the same thorough understanding and expert knowledge of their particular sector as our internal sales team would of their customers.

We anticipate this model staying in place for some time, as it is working very well for us, and for our partners.

SNS: HDS has 4 Pillars that underpin its approach to the storage networking market right now – what are they?

SM: Data is a raw asset. To make it useable, customers need an agile IT infrastructure that can transform it into information. For a data centre to be truly agile, the IT must be virtualised, automated, cloud-ready and sustainable – these are our four pillars: virtualisation, automation, cloud-readiness and sustainability.

SNS: Can you outline the importance of virtualisation?

SM: The data centre of the future is a virtualised one, with the infrastructure simply being a large virtual pool of resources.  The result of this for the customer is a highly efficient and manageable data centre with a low total cost of ownership.

SNS: And the importance of automation?

SM: Automation is the ‘holy grail’ for many of our customers. A system that intelligently tiers and manages the data allows our customers to divert storage admin resources for use elsewhere and operate far more efficiently.

SNS: And the importance of cloud?

SM: Some of the hype about cloud has died down this year and CIOs are thinking more practically about its implications. Cloud models are likely to form part of any enterprise storage strategy and companies need to ensure that their IT can support them.

SNS: And, finally, sustainability?

SM: Sustainability is critical to the data centre and the IT department as a whole. While ‘green IT’ solutions frequently ignored the environmental cost of manufacture, packaging, delivery, recycling, refurbishment and disposal, sustainability takes into account all of that and more.

SNS: Underpinning these four pillars is HDS’s focus on a common virtualised platform – what is the importance of this?

SM: On 27th September, we announced the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), the industry’s first three dimensional scaling platform. It allows organisations to scale up, scale out and scale deep

to transform their data centres into agile, virtualised environments with low TCO. It enables customers to meet increasing demand from applications and servers, support multiple servers and also extend all of these capabilities across multivendor external storage.

SNS: The Hitachi name is a very powerful brand. What are the pluses and minuses of being a part of the Hitachi Group?

SM: The Hitachi Group history gives HDS a natural advantage in some ways. For example, in 1972, before protecting the environment was a consideration for most other companies, Hitachi began group-wide investment in environmental facilities. The long-term focus on sustainability has put us ahead of the competition in terms of considering our impact on the environment, as well as helping our customers reduce the carbon footprint of their datacentres.

SNS: Finally, any thoughts on how the storage networking industry will develop in the UK over the next year or so – will The Cloud become all-pervasive?!

SM: The adoption of cloud looks set to increase but it is unlikely that organisations will abandon their existing models to use cloud exclusively.

We see customers looking to introduce cloud computing as and where it adds value to their business. In turn, this is likely to bring security issues to the fore – new storage models require new security principles and this will present challenges to customers and vendors who will look to provide them.

www.hds.com

 

World’s first 3D scaling storage platform

Hitachi Data Systems has introduced the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform, said to be the industry’s first 3 dimensional scaling platform, enabling organizations to scale up, out and deep for unprecedented levels of agility and cost savings in their virtualized data centers.

The Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), in combination with the new Hitachi Command Suite management software, offers best-in-class performance, capacity and open, multivendor storage virtualization for large businesses and enterprise organizations. The Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform is the only storage architecture that scales 3 dimensionally to help customers adapt flexibly for performance, capacity and multivendor storage asset utilization. Its data migration capabilities greatly reduce outage windows.

Page-level dynamic tiering automates the page-based movement of data to the most appropriate storage media to simplify and optimize tier costs and performance. With new 2.5-inch SAS hard disk drives, it is the highest density storage available today. And, with more than 30 percent less power consumption for capacity stored than the competition, it is the most efficient enterprise storage platform. 3D scaling delivers extreme performance and capacity for robust disaster recovery and high availability systems:

  • Scale up to meet increasing demands of applications and servers:
  • Scale dynamically for performance, capacity and connectivity without disruption
  • Add incremental resources as demand for storage resources increases by tightly coupling them through a global cache
  • Scale resources nondisruptively, including caches, ports, and drives to meet demands
  • Scale out to support multiple servers with changing workload requirements:
  • Build out the storage system by combining multiple units into a single logical system
  • Provision storage dynamically to multiple host servers on demand from a common pool of storage resources
  • Tailor for workloads and server needs without compromise
  • Achieve the highest performance for open and mainframe environments
  • Scale deep to extend the platform’s capabilities and value to heterogeneous storage:
  • Integrate multivendor external storage into the storage pool with scale up andscale out functionality
  • Provide a single platform for block, file and content with central management, data protection and search
  • Use lower cost external storage for lower cost purposes
  • Reduce OPEX through a common management framework

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