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Hitachi Data Systems targets holistic management

Dave Raffo

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Corp. is broadening its data management software with three new applications today, including one that monitors data storage resources along with network and server devices.

HDS rolled out the Hitachi IT Operations Analyzer monitoring tool, the Hitachi Virtual Server Reporter and the Hitachi Storage Command Portal. HDS sells the Virtual Server Reporter through an OEM deal with privately held Aptare Inc., and developed the other two products in-house. The software applications are designed to manage Hitachi's enterprise and midrange storage arrays.

Hitachi IT Operations Analyzer is designed for companies without dedicated storage administrators that rely on one team to manage networks, servers and storage. It monitors servers and devices on Ethernet networks along with Fibre Channel storage-area networks (FC SANs). The application is agentless and managed through a Web GUI.

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The product is aimed more at customers of HDS midrange and small- and medium-sized business (SMB) systems because its enterprise array customers usually have dedicated Fibre Channel storage teams.

"There's less storage specialization in those companies," said Sean Moser, Hitachi's vice president of software. "They rely on IT generalists. They're buying Hitachi storage because they don't want to manage it on a day-to-day basis, they want to set it and forget it."

The application builds a topology of devices on FC and Ethernet networks, and does what Hitachi calls a "proactive root cause analysis" to show customers potential performance bottlenecks.

Mary Johnston Turner, research director, systems management software at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, calls Hitachi IT Operations Analyzer a "straightforward monitoring tool" that's interesting because data storage management software doesn't usually incorporate network and server management.

"We've seen a fair amount of tools that provide visibility to the server and network, but to see storage integrated into that is what's interesting about this product," she said. "We don't typically see storage-oriented firms reaching out across network and servers -- usually it's the other way around. Storage vendors have historically been focused only on storage environments."

IT Operations Analyzer is available as a download from Hitachi's website. Users can download it and run it for 30 days before deciding to buy.

Tackling virtual server capacity

The Hitachi Virtual Server Reporter, powered by Aptare, is the rebranded Virtualization Manager product Aptare launched at the beginning of April. Virtual Server Reporter lets customers determine the amount of storage capacity required for deploying VMware virtual servers, as well as the amount of storage capacity available for that deployment.

Hitachi struck an OEM deal with Aptare in 2005, and its Backup Services Manager and Storage Capacity Reporter are also rebranded Aptare software. Moser said Hitachi works with Aptare on product development.

Moser said HDS added Virtual Server to the title to distinguish the product from the storage virtualization capabilities it offers in its Universal Storage Platform arrays.

"We've got a lot of layers of virtualization; this is focused on VMware instances and eventually [Microsoft] Hyper-V and other server virtualization technologies," Moser said. "We didn't want customers to get confused that it was different virtualization on other layers of the fabric."

Connecting storage to applications

HDS also upgraded the Hitachi Storage Command Portal reporting application to make it easier to build reports that connect storage to the appropriate business applications.

"This isn't something you can do with a spreadsheet, but our customers don't want to have to actively maintain a big piece of software to do it either," Moser said.

IT Operations Analyzer and Storage Command Portal are generally available today, and Virtual Server Reporter will be available May 5. IT Operations Analyzer costs $5,000 per 25-server pack. Storage Command Portal is priced at $15,000 per server, plus $5,000 per data access license. Virtual Server Reporter is $1,500 per VMware ESX server.