HDS was one of the first high-end disk array vendors to launch multi-vendor support in the disk array as far back as 2004. At the time, HDS surprised its array competitors by unveiling an array controller capable of connecting and virtualising other vendors’ arrays. Which is in essence turning a storage controller into a storage hypervisor, which we discussed here.

These days HDS has got 3 products (Universal Storage Platform V, VM and Virtual Storage Platform) capable of connecting 10 vendor’s arrays plus of course HDS’ own arrays. The challenge of qualifying the many different individual arrays is not trivial, and at the time of writing HDS’ website lists more than 100 supported arrays. It not only requires the physical qualification, but also combinations of hardware and software, HBAs etc. Despite the implied cost, HDS believes that its potential business in array virtualisation is outweighed by its customers’ desire for virtualise their storage pool.

Enterprise workloads were historically delivered by separate IT platforms, due to the strict demands on performance and QOS. As the xSPs have demonstrated, it is possible to share multi-tenancy workloads and enterprise customers are increasingly looking at sharing applications across a pool of IT resources such as storage. It may however not be obvious to mix top-end arrays behind a virtualisation array on a permanent basis. But data migration is on-going challenge for storage professionals and the ability to move capacity from one array to another is another reason why storage hypervisors are attractive.

HDS is a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd and develops systems, software and services around storage. It primarily supplies enterprise customers with high-end storage for mission critical applications and advanced array functions as well as server based storage software. It also provides less sophisticated storage for midrange customers.

Customers should evaluate how the ability to mix arrays from their different suppliers behind a storage hypervisor enables the creation of different tiers in their storage pool. Migration is one task, but cloning and snapshots will increasingly need to be orchestrated in an automatic way. And x86 server virtualisation is increasingly setting the agenda for server workloads and storage needs not only follow suit, but take part in the orchestration.

The IT industry should observe how a storage hypervisor model rooted in the disk array has the ability to change customers’ storage architecture choices. A rich set of tools has the potential to empower storage professionals in deploying and managing capacity cost efficiently. As multi-tenancy deployments gain in popularity customers may well choose new storage implementations.

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