Hitachi Pushes Virtual Storage Envelope

Arthur Cole

Virtual storage management systems are breaking down one barrier after another as manufacturers continue to devise new means to extend the flexibility of the virtual server farm into the storage realm.


The latest example is Hitachi Data Systems' Universal Storage Platform V featuring a newly designed virtualization layer that combines thin provisioning and external storage virtualization to deliver a theoretical capacity of up to 247 petabytes. That, coupled with a new controller that delivers 3.5 million IOPS, gives the company a strong claim on the most advanced storage system on the planet.


A key aspect of the system is the redesigned Universal Volume Manager stack, which delivers the functions of the controller engines directly to attached storage devices. It also offers a number of significant management tools, such as Dynamic Provisioning to streamline disk allocation and Virtual Partition Manager to automatically link disk, cache and ports to newly created virtual machines.


The Platform V (that's V as in the letter V, not the Roman numeral) continues a trend toward improved storage management systems brought on by the rise of virtual storage environments. Server virtualization specialists like VMware offer systems like VMotion and the VirtualCenter Distributed Resource Scheduler, but they aren't considered true storage management solutions capable of provisioning an allocating resources in highly virtualized environments. That has opened the door for a number of smaller vendors like 3Par, LeftHand and DataCore to explore more advanced techniques like thin provisioning.


Now that Hitachi is merging thin provisioning with advanced management tools and virtual external storage, albeit at $250k as one of the highest-end solutions, it will be interesting to see whether a unified approach offers any real advantages.


In his most recent blog, Hitachi CTO Hu Yoshida says that the key function of storage virtualization should be data mobility, meaning it should be non-disruptive to applications and, in fact, enhance the interaction between application and data. You can get there, he says, with a virtualization platform featuring a powerful microprocessor control unit, a dynamic global cache, a switched back plane and storage services that can be extended to external, heterogeneous systems.


Now that the message is clear, all the company has to do is deliver.

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