Keeping track of the number of acquisitions, mergers and alliances that occurred in the storage industry this year is no easy task. I admit to losing count a long time ago. And I'm way too lazy to figure this out, but I think this will be a record year for storage deals.
Starting with the Hitachi and IBM disk business merger in January, it would have been foolish to have expected anything less. Since then we've seen countless inter-company ententes.
The latest news in that area, and probably not the last to come this year, is from storage principal HDS (Hitachi Data System) and computer maker Gateway. In brief, the two companies have agreed that Gateway will sell entry level and mid-tier SAN solutions based on the Hitachi Thunder 9500 storage arrays.
Don't you think this is an astute move from HDS? To counter the effect of the many partnerships cooking, say, in the EMC pot, Hitachi and other storage rivals need to strengthen their pull on customers. Obviously, joining forces with partners is an expeditious way of adding more charm and breadth to their offerings.
Rivalries notwithstanding, it's easy to predict that both companies will benefit from this alliance, with Hitachi gaining access to a customer base that is new to the SAN world, and Gateway fortifying its offering of products for the enterprise with a robust serving of modular and fast FC (Fibre Channel) arrays such as the smaller Thunder 9530V and the more capable and new Thunder 9580V .
This agreement is a good indication that Hitachi is getting serious about gaining entry-level SAN customers, and it's not its only move in this direction. At almost the same time, the company announced another partnership with leading switch maker McData.
In short, the objective of this partnership is to offer a less expensive, ready-to-go iSCSI SAN, named TrueNorth iSCSI SAN Solution, which is based on the Hitachi Thunder 9570V array and the McData Eclipse 1620 switch.
The starting price for this cleverly named solution is around US$60,000, making it a good fit for most budgets, not to mention it saves customers from shopping twice. Moreover, newcomers to networked storage should find the Thunder and Eclipse combo more tempting than FC-based SANs, because they can spare the cost and complexity of building unfamiliar FC networks, not to mention hiring or training staff to manage them.
Customers will have to add their own networks and HBAs, but HDS states that its iSCSI SAN has been tested to work with the free Microsoft iSCSI drivers, which facilitates using low-priced, run-of-the-mill GbE NICs rather than buying more costly adapters.
It looks like a bright "Windows servers welcome" neon sign to me.