One Platform for Mid-Range to High-End to Mainframe: Democratization of Storage Services

By Hubert Yoshida posted 11-07-2018 00:00



Since the acquisition of EMC by Dell in 2016, the Dell/EMC product line has been fragmented, with VNX, VNXe, EqualLogic, Compellent, Isilon, SC Series, XtremIO, Unity, VMAX, VMAX3, PowerMax, etc. In May, CRN reported that Dell/EMC ‘s “new storage strategy will have Dell engineering teams focusing squarely on one primary storage product line for each market segment: high end, midrange, low-end, and a separate product for the unstructured file and object storage market.”

In a May 21 interview with CRN Dell Vice Chairman Jeff Clarke unveiled the midrange roadmap, which was to breakdown silos and consolidate four midrange products and concentrate on one. That was the extent of the “Roadmap”. This was critiqued by HPE’s Phil Davis who wondered which of these architectures would survive, and what this will likely mean for customers in this CRN article. Jeff Clarke responded in another CRN article saying "Despite what may be being said by others, our products on the roadmap today are supported throughout their lifetime period and we will provide a non-disruptive migration from the old product to the new product," Pure Storage responded to this with a blog by Ken Steinhardt which questioned how the many current products would be supported and how “non-disruptively migration would be accomplished.

In Jeff Clarke’s response to his critics in the CRN article above, he said:

“When I talked to customers and said, 'Would you rather buy four midrange products or one, and the right one, with all of our best IP?' The answer is overwhelmingly positive to the degree of 100 percent that, 'We'd prefer to buy one product that's the right product with all of the Dell EMC technology and IP in it,'"

With all this back and forth generating a lot of internet chatter, Hitachi Vantara has been sitting on the sidelines watching this debate. Having one product for midrange is a no brainer, but it has taken Dell EMC several years to realize the need, and it will take several more years for them to implement this for the midrange. Having one product for midrange does not go far enough. Hitachi Vantara believes that even more benefits can be realized with one platform not only for the midrange but for all three market segments together, high-end and mainframe as well as midrange. In their 2017 Magic Quadrant for general purpose disk arrays, Gartner acknowledged that sharing a common architecture and management tools from the smallest VSP G200 to the flagship VSP G1500 preserves customer investments in policies and procedures, and leverages ecosystem-related investments. Dell EMC has acquired so many different storage products that it will be very difficult for them to integrate them without a major disruption to existing customers. Dell EMC is not alone. All major storage vendors, including IBM and HPE, have multiple storage platforms that cannot be integrated for operational efficiency. This creates complexity, limits agility, and the risk of stranding some products without an upgrade path or abandoning some market segments completely.

Unlike other storage vendors who have had to acquire a good portion of their storage architectures and technologies and are struggling to integrate them, Hitachi Vantara, has had the benefit of a strong R&D parent with over 4,000 patents in storage technology, developing our own unique architecture. The unique architecture, in our Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), has enabled us to provide not only a common storage platform for our midrange customers, but also for our high-end and mainframe customers. The VSP platform is powered by the Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) which enables common management and capabilities across the VSP family of open-system, cloud, containerization, and mainframe solutions. Even when you need to add different storage personalities for the unstructured file and object storage market, Hitachi’s strategy is designed to let you consolidate data on a single platform. Object (HCP) and file (HNAS) can be deployed as gateways that use the same VSP / SVOS on the backend.


The physical packaging of the different models is optimized for their use case. For instance, the hybrid flash (VSP G series) and all flash VSP models (VSP F series) for the midrange are packaged in a cost optimized 2U controller while the controller for the VSP for mainframes is packaged in a 10U controller chassis that leverages blades for easy upgrades of compute capabilities and connectivity for massive scalability as well as mainframe FICON connections. However, the SVOS operating system remains the same. What this means is that customers with a midrange VSP can utilize functions like Global-active device for zero RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and zero RPO (Recovery Point objective) metro clustering and add remote replication for 3 data center protection which other vendors can only provide in their high-end systems, if at all. Support for containers to allow DevOps to accelerate cloud-native application development, virtualization of externally attached storage for non-disruptive device migrations, and a 100% data availability guarantee are available across our VSP/SVOS platforms. Our latest version of our storage virtualization operating system SVOS RF which was released last year enables us to build the SVOS microcode so that a “single package” could be used on multiple VSP’s.

From a value standpoint, having a common SVOS platform avoids the technical debt incurred by having multiple platforms, stranded storage on different systems, management & service complexity, and the overhead of managing different code upgrade cycles. The fact that data services are common across all offerings enables the “democratization” of storage services. A midrange user now has access to the same, super-powerful features as the biggest banks. Or, as a large company, you can deploy the same super-powerful features in remote, edge offices as you do in the core. This helps for data protection because you can easily use a single offering to replicate data back to the core. It also helps with best practices because you can use the same run books for deploying storage OR use the same Hitachi Automation Director policies everywhere. This makes global automation easier to roll out and helps de-risk operations anywhere in the world for better uptime and superior customer experiences.

Hitachi Vantara is the only storage vendor that provides all of the Hitachi technology and IP for not only our high end and mainframe customers, but also for our midrange customers as well. We democratize storage services so that all can enjoy the benefits of our proven technology. You don’t have to wait two or three years to see a roadmap evolve. It is here today with Hitachi Vantara. For information on Hitachi Vantara’s Storage portfolio visit our website at this link

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11-08-2018 19:13

So, the strategy for us that jumps out to me is to ask a Dell/EMC customer, or a prospective customer, if they like Clarke's strategy and direction, or if they agree with it as something they would like. If they answer "Yes", we simply acknowledge and agree with them, following this up with "Would you like it now (today)?" rather than have to wait for it and manage through the complexities of migrations and the risk of multiple voila' ...we give them our good news.

Should they say no, we simply continue the bridging exercise to ask questions clarifying their position so that we can direct the conversation to what we provide that satisfies the need - today.....

11-07-2018 19:30

Nice article and perspective Hu. It works for many of our customers offering them many advantages, analogous to Southwest Airlines in some respects.