Hitachi's Tagmastore gets the gold

Hitachi's Tagmastore gets the gold

New high-end storage solution challenges competitors and gives ammunition to partners.

Early this month, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) stole the show during a week that was already crowded with several major announcements from storage vendors. I am referring, of course, to the new storage solution named Tagmastore that HDS launched on September 7.

Tagmastore breaks a few records in its category and, if we had such a thing as the Storage Olympics, this new champion from HDS would probably secure gold medals in scalability, performance, and reliability. If you missed the announcement, see here

Probably the best endorsement Tagmastore has received is that two major vendors, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, have added the new product to their portfolios, labeling the new wares StorageWorks XP12000 and StorEdge 9990, respectively.

According to HP officials, the XP12000 not only becomes their largest new storage solution, but also offers unprecedented reliability and performance. In fact, HP plans to offer the XP12000, expected to have zero downtime, as a logical SAN complement to its NonStop systems. The company says it will mark the first marriage between those systems and a SAN.

Fault tolerance will probably not attract many customers, but Tagmastore's exceptional scalability, from a single cabinet with just nine drives to an unprecedented 1,152 drives in four cabinets, should garner much interest.

According to HDS, customers can upgrade from the smallest configuration to the largest without ever powering down the unit or interrupting the service.

Virtualization is probably the most interesting feature of Tagmastore, because it offers consolidation of several arrays in a single, centrally managed storage pool.

In addition to its own cabinets, Tagmastore can incorporate in that pool other vendors' storage, including high-end solutions from EMC and IBM, HDS officials say.

Interestingly, HP plans to exploit those virtualization capabilities to improve sales of other products. For example, the company will offer a pool that combines the XP12000 with the more affordable MSA1000 arrays, which become the target of automatically migrated, infrequently referenced data.

The ability to pool heterogeneous storage sounds great, but often business requirements dictate building privacy walls around data or applications. For that purpose, Tagmastore offers partitioning, in essence the ability to dedicate storage resources such as capacity and cache to a specific environment.

And to protect its 32 petabytes of data, Tagmastore offers a redesigned, array-neutral, asynchronous replication package, supported by a customer-defined journal, which gives the ability to compensate for faulty or slow remote connections. Replication for Tagmastore should be available toward the end of 2004.

Tagmastore can consolidate storage resources for both mainframe and open systems hosts, and offers block serving as well as file serving via dedicated NAS blades.

Scott Generaux, an HDS senior vice president and one of the speakers for Tagmastore, summed up the new storage initiative. "We are delivering the first universal storage platform," he said. It's difficult to disagree.

Mario Apicella is a senior analyst at the InfoWorld Test Center.

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