Hitachi Vantara: NAS Platform Review

For the better part of a decade, Hitachi Vantara has been providing network-attached storage (NAS) systems to enterprise markets.

Their NAS products are built for high performance and scalability, using object-based storage and a proprietary architecture designed to boost CPU-demanding tasks.

See below to learn all about where the Hitachi Vantara NAS Platform stands in the NAS market:

The NAS market

With many attractive NAS products on the market today, Hitachi Vantara stands out as one of the largest NAS providers. Some of its most significant competitors include HPE with its 3PAR StoreServ NAS, IBM with its FlashSystem solution, Dell EMC’s PowerScale, and NetApp’s FAS Series.

Some industry analysts project the NAS market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 20% over the next five years. At this time more than 80% of mid-market and enterprise organizations use NAS devices to complement their broader storage platforms. Their popularity is driven by their purpose-built, efficient designs that push performance at a sensible cost.

Features

Scalability is at the heart of Hitachi Vantara’s NAS platform. Virtual capacity is unlimited, though there is a 1PB cap on individual file sizes.

The filesystem is designed to span across multiple namespaces and across public and private clouds. In addition, the platform has a multitenancy capacity of up to 64 Hitachi Enterprise Virtual Servers for NAS, which operate across multiple security domains.

From a hardware perspective, Hitachi NAS nodes are powered by Intel Xeon quad-core CPUs, 64GB RAM, and non-volatile DIMM (NVDIMM) to provide data resilience in the event of a power outage. The devices also carry multiple field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) to facilitate and parallelize data transfers, support encryption services, manage system space, and support system backups.

At the software level, Hitachi NAS uses a next-generation small file IO, cutting down capacity requirements for data storage by 28% over its previous iteration and providing other optimizations to cut down on write operations. Data can be managed using hard or soft quotas on users, groups, and volumes, so administrators can provision capacity and tasks.

The platform also has a cluster namespace feature which produces a single directory that can span across numerous storage units.

The platform is designed to offload unused data into archival cloud storage, supporting AWS, Azure, and IBM’s cloud services, and of course Hitachi’s own cloud platform.

Disk usage is optimized using a tiered file system (TFS). TFS separates metadata and user data, putting metadata on a storage tier geared toward higher performance and placing user data on a lower tier or in cloud backup if it is rarely accessed. These cloud files are linked across volumes, maintaining their accessibility while still appearing within the one-folder architecture of a traditional NAS appliance.

Data maintains a high availability with an automated synchronous disaster recovery feature. Deduplication is similarly automated, and made transparent to the end user. Hitachi Vantara claims users can expect the automated deduplication can “achieve up to 90% capacity savings.”

Configuration and deployment are also automated, as is data self-healing. Snapshots can be made based on a variety of options, including single file or whole directory clones, or file system snapshots that are hidden, read-only, and designed to integrate with Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service recovery tool.

Benefits

The flexible scalability of a NAS gateway with easy cloud integrations makes Hitachi’s NAS platform a solid solution for any growing enterprise with expanding data storage needs. Further, the system can be complemented with a Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform all-flash array, providing the speed and performance of flash drives at the back end.

Use case

A Belgian research organization, the Space Pole, studies weather and climate and how it is impacted by stellar activity. Their data is shared all over the world, and the organization produces a lot of it.

The organization is made up of three different research institutions, and in order to advance their mission, they recognized the need to consolidate how they manage and serve data.

The Space Pole engaged with a dozen storage hardware vendors to develop a solution. Ultimately, they sided with two Hitachi NAS Platform 4080 systems, back-ended by two Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform G400 models, with a collective capacity of 8PB.

The system supports asynchronous disaster recovery, a useful feature for the multi-campus organization. But ultimately, what swayed the team toward Hitachi Vantara was the simplicity of their solution.

“We received a lot of very different proposals, and the Hitachi Vantara offering stood out,” said Fabienne Leclère, a project manager at the Space Pole. “What initially attracted us to the Hitachi solution was how clear and straightforward it is; there was no unnecessary complexity.”

The Space Pole reports that the new storage solution reduced their direct storage costs by 50% while doubling overall performance thanks to the parallelization of disk usage. The company was also pleased with Hitachi’s preventative maintenance, replacing disks often before they reached a critical failure.

Differentiators

Hitachi’s NAS products operate in a gateway configuration. While client devices interact with gateway devices the same way they do legacy NAS appliances, gateways can seamlessly distribute storage across multiple drives while still providing a single folder interface. New drives can be introduced into NAS gateways without disruption to the existing file system, providing theoretically infinite scalability.

In practice, Hitachi NAS gateways can scale up to 80 NAS nodes, supporting up to 4 trillion objects namespace with an aggregate 384GBps of throughput. The company claims to be the only major vendor of gateway NAS devices today.

User reviews

Reviewers on Gartner Peer Insights give Hitachi Vantara’s NAS gateway a collective 4.2 out of 5 star rating. Customers praised the hardware reliability and the responsiveness of Hitacha Vantara’s customer service. In addition, the platform was received well for its high performance.

Although, some customers wanted a greater degree of administrative options offered from the GUI, as opposed to interfacing via the command line.

Pricing

Hitachi Vantara provides several purchase or lease options through their EverFlex service, even offering a pay-per-use consumption model similar to typical cloud storage pricing schemes.

They also have an interactive Value Selector tool to help customers evaluate their storage-as-a-service needs. Due to the broad range of possible configurations with a NAS gateway, it’s important to carefully evaluate your storage needs before pricing out a solution.

Conclusion

For a company seeking the scalability and versatility of a NAS gateway platform, there are few options out there that match Hitachi Vantara’s NAS Platform. Historically, NAS gateways carry added complexity to setup and administration, but many customers praise Hitachi Vantara for providing an easy-to-use product and a reasonable price.

Litton Power
Litton Power
Litton Power is a writer and public affairs consultant. He has an extensive background in science, technology, and the energy sector and was a former science communicator at Idaho National Laboratory. He lives in Tennessee, where he spends his free time hiking, camping, and building furniture.

Latest Articles

Top 10 Data Recovery Certifications

Data recovery is the process to restore lost or corrupted data due to a disaster, and companies must data recovery experts to recover their...

Top 10 Companies Hiring for Data Recovery Jobs

Data recovery is a vital part of the technology industry today. When data is accidentally deleted, corrupted, lost, or damaged, there is a risk...

Data Recovery Q&A With Kathy Ahuja at Qumulo

Enterprise data is at constant risk of physical destruction, cyber attacks, and theft or unexpected system or hardware failure. To mitigate these risks, enterprises...