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Opening the door for customer choice

by Hu Yoshida on Feb 14, 2011

By Michael Heffernan

choiceWell, there certainly has been quite a bit of dialogue in blog circles and on Twitter this week about our recent announcement of VAAI certification on Hitachi VSP with external storage.  Predictably, much of this came from competitors on our statement that Hitachi is the only storage vendor to support all three of the VAAI “primitives” on a virtualized storage platform.  We understand the pushback when vendors make these statements and claims, and we don’t take making these claims lightly.

That said, I’ve paid more attention to the questions that customers and end users have raised. It’s important for our customers to know about the capabilities of our technology and that they have the choice to support heterogeneous storage in the data center – especially when advanced integration like VAAI is developed. As a result of our superior quality and engineering capability, our arrays are known to be the most innovative and highest quality with their technology, reliability & performance. This was demonstrated by the recent announcement that VSP also won the prestigious iF Product Design Award for 2011.

Before I speak to the customers about what our VAAI certification means, let me just restate the facts:

* Hitachi is the ONLY storage array vendor today to support 100+ External Storage devices for VAAI with all 3 x primitives – block zeroing, full copy & hardware assisted locking through the advanced 3D scaling virtualized controller design.

* Our leadership in storage virtualization is based upon the fact that we have shipped over 16,400 storage virtualization controllers over the last 8 years, starting with Hitachi USP, then USPV/VM models and now the third generation VSP.

* Most of our customers today have existing arrays from EMC, IBM, Netapp and others  externalized for various reasons, including  for extended life and added performance, which includes support for hypervisors like VMware. (If you want to see the matrix: www.hds.com/uk/products/storage-systems/specifications/supported-external-storage.html).

Why is this important? VMware has taken off like wildfire and there are hundreds if not thousands of virtual machines in customer data centers sitting on legacy storage arrays that do not have the microcode to support these new VAAI primitives. Instead of ripping out the old storage to replace them with new storage arrays that have the capability to support the VAAI Primitives, you can virtualize them behind the VSP.

It’s all about the customer

As a customer in my previous life, I was always concerned that vendors were creating technology for technology sake and trying to find ways to lock a solution into my infrastructure for which I eventually would pay high maintenance because it was near impossible to migrate. Additionally, I wanted an easy option for when I reached capacity, had performance issues or needed to switch vendors. Choosing technology that allowed me to do this wasn’t easy in the marketplace.

One simple point when focused on virtualization technologies (both server & storage) is they are enabling the customer to solve a problem and decoupling the dependence of the application on physical hardware, thus enabling the flexibility of choice. I describe that as, “VMware is to virtualized servers and Hitachi is to virtualized storage”.

What do they both have in common? VMware enables the consolidation of applications without the need to remap the application to a new operating system. Hitachi storage virtualization enables the consolidation of storage without the need to remap the LUNs from physical to virtual extends. They both are simple to use and provides the customer with the ability to choose what physical server and physical storage to sit underneath and non disruptively move or migrate the application and data to meet changing business needs. This is really fundamental to data center transformation today.

Driving industry change

The co-operation between the hypervisors and storage with the likes of VAAI now takes this type of maturity a great step forward for the industry. I commend VMware for taking this approach and I encourage other hypervisors to look at this success and take the same approach. Using native APIs and SCSI standards that have been used for years is definitely the right approach.

It’s all about the ecosystem and providing the standards necessary for the foundation of technology development and innovation. It’s healthy for the industry and enables the healthy maturity of virtualization technology, which benefits the customer in the end. What customers should be excited about is that it now opens the doors for vendors now to demonstrate the true capability of their hardware and unique differentiators.

Hitachi is no different. Using the VAAI API provides just another use case to leverage the unique capability of our storage virtualization solution. We’re focused on our core basic principles to benefit the customer – green technologies to reduce power consumption, preserving assets and moving the technology forward provides a great framework for choice and flexibility with best of breed technology.

In my mind, this is the most important direction that is absolutely perfect for the customer.

– Michael Heffernan, global product manager, Server Virtualization, Hitachi Data Systems

Michael Heffernan is the global product manager for Server Virtualization at Hitachi Data Systems. In this position, Michael ensures that the core technologies of Hitachi storage and servers are aligned with hypervisors in order to create integrated technology solutions that will benefit Hitachi customers. Previous to this role, Michael worked in Asia Pacific as director of Service Delivery at Hitachi Data Systems, where he leveraged the company’s delivery methodology and storage service tools to deliver a superior solutions service experience for customer

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Comments (5 )

Rick Vanover on 23 Feb 2011 at 12:49 pm

Nice post, Heff. The ecosystem needs to all pieces in line with today. That’s latest vSphere, VAAI supported storage and rich processes to deliver NextGen IT. Sweet.

Michael Heffernan on 24 Feb 2011 at 9:36 am

Thanks very much, Rick.

Absolutely, it’s all about the ecosystem. I like to describe it to customers as “vSphere’s API engine” – removing custom integration and standardizing on API’s so that core technology is leveraged with what it was designed to do. Customers now benefit as they can choose the best of breed from all technologies to meet their infrastructure requirements. Maximizing the life or extending the life of a technology not only is economical but maximizes profit to a business.

[...] For more details, please read this blog post from Michael Heffernan. [...]

[...] systems to offload application, server and network bottlenecks through the use of API’s, like VMware’s VAAI, without impact to the performance of the storage [...]

[...] especially when we added storage virtualization into the mix – but to say we’ve been busy since we announced support on Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) in early February – is a gross [...]

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