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AMS – Not Your Mother’s Modular Storage!

by Hu Yoshida on Jun 29, 2009

Note: This post was updated on 6/30/09.

This morning Hitachi Data Systems announced some new enhancements to the AMS 2000 modular storage platform. These new enhancements include Dynamic Provisioning, Dense Expansion Trays, AMS 2500DC for NEBS compliance, 8Gbs FC storage ports, and security enhancements. Since we began shipping the AMS 2000 platform in October of last year we have shipped over 60PB on this platform, making this one of our more successful storage products in the modular storage market. To understand why this product is has garnered such acceptance we must first understand the modular storage market and what sets the AMS 2000 apart from the rest.

Modular storage was created as external storage for open system servers. The basic architecture has remained the same for over twenty years. Modular storage is configured in drawers that fit into an industry standard 19 inch racks. One drawer contains two controllers which manage the I/O access from the servers, caching of the data to minimize the mechanical latencies of the disks, generation of RAID parity for data protection, and access of data from the disks. Controller drawers are connected to one or more drawers which contain the disk arrays. Today most disk drawers are connected to the two controllers through a FC loop. Each drawer, whether it is a controller drawer or a disk drawer is “modular” in that each has its own power and cooling. This makes it possible to add disk drawers simply by connecting to the FC loop, unlike monolithic storage where power and cooling is in the frame and disk arrays must be added in prescribed locations for power and cooling and cabling to back end directors.

While the Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 2000 is still modular storage in that it is a dual controller storage system which comes in drawers that fit into a 19 inch rack, nothing else remains the same. Attached is a summary of the major enhancements that differentiate it from your usual modular storage system.

The controllers in the AMS 2000 are active/active. An I/O can come through either controller and the workload is automatically load balanced between the two controllers. This eliminates the need to assign LUNs to one controller or another, making it simpler to configure the AMS 2000 over other modular storage systems.

The FC loops that connect the disk drawers have been replaced with Serial Attach SCSI with expanders which provided point to point connections which eliminates the overhead of loop contention and provides isolation of disk failures.

Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning will be available in the AMS 2000 in Q3 2009. This virtualizes the capacity in the AMS 2000, making it easy to provision storage requests in a matter of minutes, improve performance with automatic wide striping, and thin provision by eliminating unused capacity for most allocation requests.  This will increase the utilization of storage capacity and reduce operational costs.

High Density Expansion Trays are drawers which have been configured to contain 48 disks in a 4u drawer instead of the 15 disk that are contained in most modular storage drawers. With 1TB SATA disks one drawer would contain 48TB of raw capacity, reducing the cost of capacity to about $2/GB (list), ideal for tier 3 applications. The AMS 2000 can move data between tiers of storage with in the AMS without disruption to the application.

8 Gb/s FC host port options. Up to 16 x 8 Gb/s on the AMS 2500, provides the speed to support Virtual servers with their aggregated need for high speed connections, or high speed demands of multi-core processors.

A new model, the AMS 2500DC, was introduced with DC power and NEBS (Network Equipment Building Systems) compliance for use in Telco Central Offices. DC power is a growing requirement for “Green” data centers who hope to save power by reducing the number of voltage changes and conversions between AC and DC.

The addition of an external authentication capability on the AMS 2000 allows customers to leverage their existing infrastructure such as  Active Directory, as well as Multi-Factor authentication, without being locked into proprietary authentication solutions in the storage layer. Couple this with the AMS 2000s recent Common Criteria EAL-2 Certification, and customers now have Enterprise class security functionality in a mid-range platform. This certification is an EAL-2 and covers authentication, Role Based Access, account management, audit logging, and secure management actions via SSL (Note: The Common Criteria Certification for the AMS 2000 is pending).

While priced and configured as your common modular storage system, it has a number of enterprise features which can reduce costs and complexity while improving performance and security.

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Comments (8 )

[...] Read what CTO Hu Yoshida has to say about today’s news, here. [...]

sanjeev on 01 Jul 2009 at 3:56 am

Are you shipping them to India as well?

Mark Adams on 01 Jul 2009 at 11:23 am

Yes, all of the new enhancements to the AMS 2000 family are available worldwide, including India.

- Mark Adams, HDS

Vinod Subramaniam on 23 Jul 2009 at 6:14 pm


I have worked on 9200′s, 9500′s and AMS1000 arrays. While I do appreciate the progress that HDS has made with the AMS2000 subsystems there are a few incorrect facts that I want to point out in your statement above.

1. ” The basic architecture has remained the same for over twenty years.” Sorry but NEC and Fujitsu integrated Emulex’s SOC 322 back in 2004 making their offerings a SBOD.



2. “Today most disk drawers are connected to the two controllers through a FC loop. ” Sorry but the HP EVA Family now works with two Emulex based root switches.


In any case I have asked around on the architectural differences between a pure SAS extender based subsystem and a root switch +
SOC based subsystem and have got no clear answers except for
vendors pointing me to empirical evidence that their subsystem
is the best based on benchmarks etc.

So I would appreciate it if you can elaborate on the
architectural advantages of a pure SAS extender based

– Vinod

Vinod Subramaniam on 27 Jul 2009 at 2:31 pm

OK. While I was digging around to figure out why the AMS2000 has a SAS tree topology I figured out that LSI logic seems to be a pioneer in SAS switches both external and embedded.


And who has the patent on Integrated RAID controllers and SAS switches. None other than that patent generation machine IBM.

Hu Yoshida on 29 Jul 2009 at 4:37 pm

Hello Vinod, thanks for your comments. We are not claiming to be the first in every category. We are just pointing out that we have the most complete offering in the modular two controller market today.

wally on 05 Aug 2009 at 5:04 am

Does the addition of wide striping also mean an even better SPC1 result ?

[...] seinem Blog die Frage, ob man angesichts der neu angekündigten Features (siehe auch Hu Yaoshidas Blog) der HDS AMS2000 überhaupt noch “echten” Enterprise Storage benötigt. Er kommt zu dem [...]

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