Hitachi USP Storage System Includes Thin Provisioning

USP targets large corporations with upgraded virtualization services

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. last week introduced a new version of its Universal Storage Platform (USP) storage system with new thin-provisioning capabilities that the company said can help users maximize storage allocation and reduce storage consumption.

The thin-provisioning features are part of a new virtualization services layer in the storage system, said Hitachi Data Systems, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd.

Called USP V, the new version has a 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel switch that could prove invaluable to United Air Lines Inc., said Gary Pilafas, managing director of the enterprise architecture team at the Chicago-based airline.

United has been testing one USP V system for about three weeks, Pilafas noted.

The company runs 10 older TagmaStore USPs in three data centers two in Chicago for business resumption and another in San Francisco for what Pilafas calls the airlines maintenance base.

The USPs support a variety of critical IT requirements at United, including the backup of servers running the airlines booking and pricing engines, according to Pilafas. The thin-provisioning feature in the new model will allow United to more efficiently allocate storage across the USPs, he said.

Pilafas said he expects that one of the new USP V systems will be able to manage Uniteds massively parallel IBM data warehouse which holds a pinch under a peta­byte of data while pumping more business intelligence back into the airline.

The warehouse often gets more than 100,000 requests for data at a time, he said, and users expect a response time of about 7 milliseconds.

Uniteds overall data storage requirements are currently increasing by 30% to 40% a year, he noted, putting heavy pressure on storage allocation processes.

Storage architects have become illusionists. Our field has become comparable to David Copperfield; you basically show people more of something thats not really there, Pilafas remarked.

He said he believes that Hitachi is leapfrogging other large storage vendors by providing the virtualization capabilities large companies need rather than investing limited dollars in products aimed at small and midsize businesses.

The new Dynamic Provisioning software in USP V will enable users to allocate virtual disk storage based on anticipated needs without having to dedicate or designate physical disk storage.

Hu Yoshida, vice president and chief technology officer at HDS, said the Dynamic Provisioning software should also improve storage utilization by taking advantage of allocated but unused storage capacity.

Because Hitachis storage virtualization occurs within the storage controller, the USP V platform can more easily scale and support critical common storage services, said Carl Greiner, an analyst at Ovum Inc. in Boston.

[Hitachi] can put other peoples storage on the USP V and give them common management capabilities. Thats really powerful, said Greiner.

However, he noted that Hitachi will have to add a focus on midsize companies to convince distributors like Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. of the technologys true value.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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