Pans, Praise Greet New HDS Storage Platform


Hitachi Data Systems' TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform was designed to grab market share from high-end competitors EMC and IBM . But rivals aren't convinced that HDS has the right approach.

The company unveiled the system and new technologies to a few hundred journalists and analysts in New York Tuesday. It wowed attendees with a comprehensive platform that employs mainframe qualities, such as a full virtualization layer and logical partitioning.

For example, TagmaStore can house and manage an unprecedented 32 petabytes of internal and external data and separate that data into 32 logical partitions, much like a classic mainframe can separate operating systems.

Virtualization software allocates physical storage resources, including ports, cache and disks, into as many as 32 Private Virtual Storage Machines, and new replication software copies data over any distance without the need for redundant servers or replication appliances.

By early 2005, TagmaStore will have the ability to manage storage servers from its competitors IBM and EMC, making it attractive for customers who have disparate storage infrastructure to corral and handle data.

HDS hopes customers will see the storage platform as their choice to power their information lifecycle management strategies for managing information from its inception until its disposal in accordance with government record retention regulations.

Virtual Array?

Rivals found plenty to pick on with the systems.

"Late to market, Hitachi's announcement represents one-dimensional thinking in the area of storage virtualization and is aimed solely at high-end customers," said Rich Lechner, vice president of Storage Systems at IBM, noting that IBM has decades of experience with virtualization capabilities, beginning with its mainframe line.

An IBM spokesperson simplified this characterization, telling that TagmaStore was nothing but a virtual array.

EMC went further. Dennis Hoffman, the company's vice president of marketing, echoed the notion that the product was a virtualized array and wondered about its viability at a time when EMC, IBM and others are basing their products on the network.

"If you take away the virtualization element of it [TagmaStore] is basically a platform refresh and it's long overdue," Hoffman told

"We completely agree with the analysts and Hitachi that virtualization is important because it facilitates the interaction with infrastructure for all of the applications that sit on top of it," he said. "Just about every vendor in the industry is in the process of delivering it. But, with the exception of Hitachi, every vendor had decided to deliver it in the network."

Hoffman said he presumed HDS' strategy for getting virtualization into the marketplace "in a way that they can control and profit from it has led the company to turn the array into a virtualization device."

The executive also said HDS' approach will force customers to buy an array to manage other arrays by EMC, IBM, or even HDS' previous products as a proprietary product instead of delivering virtualization in the network as a set of open standards.

Despite such criticisms, several customers embraced TagmaStore, as well as executives from Sun and HP, both of which are selling their own version of the system.

Policy Management Key

Tom Fleissner, storage area network architect at Pacific Capital Bancorp in California, said that TagmaStore is very effective for his company at a time when he and his team are being "controlled by Sarbanes-Oxley" and require fast, reliable storage.

"I just found HDS to have better policies and easier reporting mechanisms, as well as a better return on investment from TagmaStore," Fleissner told the audience at the briefing. "It lets you consolidate separate pieces of data, and I found the policy management was right on key."

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Tony Asaro said there is a great deal of traction for Lightning, the company's previous high-end storage system and sees the same holding true for TagmaStore going forward.

But Asaro acknowledged that HDS' challenge is one of messaging and sales, not of technology and product.

"TagmaStore is a great solution; it's very innovative, and customers want storage virtualization," Asaro told "There's no selling customers on storage virtualization to simplify their environments and drive down their costs. They're all convinced of that. It's just a matter of getting the message out that this is the best solution in order to do that."

HDS will have its work cut out for it. According to the most recent external storage systems statistics from Gartner and IDC, HDS remains a distant third in market share.

Dips and Valleys

In the latest Gartner estimates, HDS had a 6.9 percent share of the external disk storage systems market, with EMC leading at 23.1 percent and IBM at 13.2 percent. According to IDC, EMC led the market with a 20.7 percent revenue share and IBM garnered 13.5 percent. HDS posted 8.1 percent share.

But when it comes to the high-end market, where systems generally run several hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million, the stats may be a bit closer.

According to a recent Merrill Lynch report, from first quarter 2000 to second quarter 2002, EMC's Symmetrix share dipped from 74 percent to 51 percent after the Lightning 1 release, while HDS' share increased from 9 percent to 31 percent.

After the Lightning 2 release in 2002, EMC's Symmetrix share leveled off at 40 percent, with HDS and IBM's Shark coming in at 33 and 27 percent, respectively.

While IBM's San Volume Controller and SAN File System servers virtualize data, and EMC is planning its own groundbreaking Storage Router for 2005, Asaro said HDS is first to market in bringing virtualization, partitioning and a host of other software tools together in one offering.

"The logical partitioning, host storage domain, volume migration tool ... when you add them up they begin to allow customers to manage a large-scale virtual environment, or even a mid-size," Asaro said.

"It allows customers not to just throw hardware at the problem. With the software they can control it on a much more granular level. Now we have to see if customers come back to us and say 'we've saved a magnitude in costs.' We're at a point where in a year from now we want to see that $30 per gigabyte of total cost of ownership is now down to $10."

On a competitive level, the analyst said HDS is now providing functionality that none of the other vendors are providing in their storage controllers.

What will happen in 2004 and beyond? It's anyone's guess, but Asaro agreed the technology is impressive enough to win over customers looking for certain high-end functionality.


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