HDS creates an archive appliance

Hitachi Data Systems has unveiled what is says is a “uniquely different” approach to long-term data storage.

The company released this week what it calls its Content Archive Platform (CAP), a pre-configured appliance for accessing e-mail, file systems, databases, applications and content management systems that have been separated from near-term storage.

At the same time it also announced an independent software vendor program to encourage ISVs to link their applications comply to the system.

The first CAP works with HDS’ WMS 100 line, which is aimed at workgroups and medium-sized businesses. With SATA-based hard discs can scale over 300TB and can have up to 4GB of cache per server for rapid data searches. Late this year support will be added for the company’s other storage systems, starting with the AMS line, with the goal of creating a common archive for data centres using multiple HDS systems.

In coming up with a product, Hitachi took a different approach from competitors such as EMC’s Centera system, said Derek Gascon, Hitachi’s senior director of product marketing for archived solutions.

Other companies archive data in a redundant array of independent nodes (RAIN), where each node has servers and storage together. HDS separated the storage and put the discs into a SAN RAID configuration for better scalability.

“The competition has taken a storage perspective in terms of what was needed to achieve fixed content for the long term,” said Gascon. “Their intent was to abstract the storage layer from the application so the application didn’t need to know about the storage infrastructure.”

But that limited the ability of users to access and re-use data, he said.

“We’re moving beyond static content addressable storage products, where (other companies) have created an environment that ties customers to applications and storage technologies that store it,” he said.

Records managers want to be able to store content in a way that’s searchable across all data types regardless of what application created it, said Gascon. At the same time they prefer disc-based storage to tape, because data can be accessed faster. Meanwhile IT managers, responsible for maintaining archives over generations of technology, want a solution that won’t be a dead-end over time, as well as the ability to scale.

Hitachi’s answer to these needs is a solution combining Hitachi’s SATA-based tiered storage and authentication and preservation software licensed from Archivas Inc. of Waltham, Mass.

“It will support policy-based integration from multiple applications for both structured and unstructured data, all in a single active archive architecture,” said Gascon.

“I think it makes a lot of sense for a wide customer base,” said Gavin Hood, vice-president for the Ontario region of ESI Technologies, a Montreal-based integrator with a large storage practice and an HDS partner.

“It’s best of breed-software coming together with best of breed hardware in a format that our group feels is open and scalable in a much more customer-friendly way than a lot of the competing solutions are.”

It will appeal to organizations with regulatory requirements for storage – including those in the health sector insurance companies and high-tech firms – he said.

CAP’s system itself is based on the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) standard and includes a set of archive services with centralized search capabilities. Search returns can be disparate for 370 file types — for example, any search can return both text, e-mail and images in the repository.

The lowest-priced model — which Gascon said comes “fully featured out of the box” — costs US$225,000 and holds 5TB of storage.

In its marketing material Hitachi takes aim at the EMC, claiming that unlike it’s Centera system, the CAP natively supports NFS, CIFS/SMB, HTTP and WebDAV interfaces and stores data in standard file names and file formats.

The ISV partner program is a three-tier (platinum, gold, silver) program aimed at recruiting software developers with applications they want to work with CAP.

Initial platinum partners include Open Text Corp. of Waterloo, Ont., CA and Symantec. Platinum partners pay to join at that level, a fee that will go towards joint marketing and sales efforts with HDS.

Gascon emphasized that HDS doesn’t do any application development so there will be no channel conflict with ISVs.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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