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How do we virtualize? Let me count the ways

by Hu Yoshida on Mar 8, 2011

When most IT managers talk about virtualization, they are thinking of server virtualization. More and more IT managers, however, are focusing on storage virtualization.  Given storage virtualization comes in many forms and combination of forms, I’d thought it would be useful to provide you with a list of virtualization capabilities that we offer in Hitachi Data Systems products.

1. Controller-based Virtualization

The first and most well known Hitachi virtualization is controller-based storage virtualization that has been available since 2004 with our USP products and now with Virtual Storage Platform (VSP).  By doing the virtualization in our control unit, we can virtualize existing LUNs on external storage, enhance them with all the current functionality of our storage control unit without the need for remapping or an additional layer of management software.

2. Virtualization of LUNs

In the USP V we introduced the virtualization of LUNs or volumes with Dynamic Provisioning, where we can allocate a volume immediately with virtual capacity and provide 42MB pages of physical capacity when the application starts to write to that volume. We can combine this with virtualization of external storage and when we move an over allocated external volume into this Dynamic Provisioning pool we can recover the allocated unused pages with Zero Page Reclaim.

3. Virtualization of storage tiers

With the VSP we added the virtualization of storage tiers with Dynamic Tiering. Now a tier of storage can contain three different types of storage, and pages within a virtual volume can move automatically between these storage types based on access frequency. Unlike volume based tiering where a whole volume had to be moved between tiers, only the pages within a volume are moved, eliminating the need to save duplicate volume capacities in each tier.  This also can be combined with the advantages of storage and volume virtualization. In fact, this virtual tier can span internal and external storage.

4. Virtualization of files

Our HNAS product provides virtualization of files. With a global name space we can automate the movement of files in a share across tiers of storage or stub them out into an HCP archive. HNAS also does single instance store to minimize capacity requirements and the HNAS and HCP storage can be combined with storage, volume, and tiering virtualization.

5. Virtualization of data

Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) provides virtualization of data. This is sometimes called data de-referencing. This is where the data is virtualized from the application that created it. With HCP we can ingest different types of data across standard protocols, index the data and store it so that it can be used by other authorized applications. With the Hitachi Data Ingestor add on, we can virtualize between NFS/CIFS and RESTful interfaces for cloud support.

A good example of this is our Hitachi Clinical Repository that was shown at the HIMSS 2011 conference in Orlando last month. Here we have gone one step further by putting context around the data so that we can associate different types of data with a patient’s history or “Longitudinal” view. Below is an example of the types of data that can be virtualized, consolidated, and accessed through an EHR or Physician portal. You can read more about this in Bill Burns’ blog, Storage STAT.


The base for this is the Hitachi Content Platform.

There are many levels of storage and data virtualization, and the best part is that they can all work together.

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Comments (3 )

Trevor on 08 Mar 2011 at 1:37 pm

Hi Hu,

You mention in this post that “HNAS also does single instance store to minimize capacity requirements”. I can’t find anything to support this. I know the HCP does single instance but was no aware that the HNAS also had this capability – Thanks.

Hu Yoshida on 09 Mar 2011 at 5:49 pm

Hello Trevor,

You are correct. I was mixing my HNAS with HCP. Multiple HNAS systems can stub out files to an HCP, where they are hashed for immutability and indexed, compressed, and single instance stored. In that way they can reduce their capacity requirements to a stub rather than a file. They can also tier files in a file share through policies to reduce the capacity on higher cost tiers of storage.

Thanks for the catch.

EqualLogic prijzen on 21 Mar 2011 at 4:08 pm

I like storage tiering the most! Especially in combination whit VDI solutions!

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