Hitachi Data Systems aims to make it easier and more cost effective for enterprises to virtualise storage with a product that consolidates existing data stores without requiring customers to buy more disk capacity.
The diskless NSC55 is one of the first controller-only offerings in an industry where most virtualisation tools come packaged with internal storage, analysts say. The product is a diskless version of the TagmaStore Network Storage Controller (NSC55) Hitachi introduced last July.
With the NSC55, Hitachi brought high-end storage-management features, such as the ability to virtualise external storage, do logical partitioning and replicate data systemwide, to small and midsize companies. The diskless version includes all of these features, minus the internal storage.
"It gives customers more flexibility in that they can have internal storage if they want, or they can just put the controller into an environment where they already have sufficient storage capacity," says Randy Kerns, an independent storage analyst.
Today, most customers are seeing storage-use rates that hover around 20%, according to Claus Mikkelsen, chief scientist at HDS. The NSC55 addresses that issue by separating the controller from the commodity disks, enabling buyers to get the management features they want without having to invest in unneeded storage.
The NSC55, for example, requires a minimum of five disks, nearly a terabyte, of internal capacity and is priced starting at US$150,000. The diskless version drops the starting price to US$90,000.
By offering the diskless version, Hitachi hopes to provide a more attractive entryway to storage virtualisation, an area that has been slower to take off than expected. In addition, the product should give Hitachi a foot in the door with customers who may want to add internal storage to the NSC55 as their storage needs grow, Mikkelsen says.
The NSC55 competes with such products as StorEdge 6920 from Sun, which is priced starting at just under US$160,000, according to Sun's website, as well as similar products from EMC, HP and IBM.