Hitachi has produced replacements for its Thunder 9500 V series arrays that hold more data, transfer it faster and offer tiered storage.

The new products, available from 11 July, will also include its TagmaStore multi-vendor virtualisation engine. This means customers can form them, and other vendors' arrays, into a single logical pool of storage, said to be easier to manage.

  • The AMS500 (adaptable modular storage) can mix Fibre Channel and Serial ATA (SATA) drives up to 88.5TB. It offers twice the cache and twice the capacity of EMC's CX500.
  • The AMS200 can hold up to 40TB of mixed Fibre Channel and SATA drives
  • The WMS100 (workgroup modular storage) has up to 42TB of SATA drives

The WMS100, has single or dual controllers and 1GB to 2GB cache. It holds up to 105 drives and supports RAID levels 0+1, 1, 5 and 6. RAID 6 means the array can withstand the loss of two disks before any data is lost. HDS says the WMS100 can be used for near-line storage archival applications.

The AMS200, roughly equivalent to EMC's CX300, also has single or dual controllers, but larger 2GB to 4GB of cache and the same RAID levels. The AMS500 has 2GB to 8GB cache and as many as 2,048 host computer connections.

These arrays, managed from a single integrated software suite, are smaller than HDS' enterprise-class TagmaStore and should be priced accordingly. The WMS100 is expected to be available as soon as August; the AMS200 and AMS500 and NSC55 this month. Sun, which OEMs the TagmaStore as its StorEdge 9990, is also expected to announce its versions of products soon.

"The TagmaStore is not selling well - it is too expensive at its entry point," said one analyst, who asked not to be identified. "Hitachi needs a less expensive but still high-end system."

HDS' rack mount NSC55 (TagmaStore Network Storage Controller) virtualises up to 16PB of attached multi-vendor storage. It uses a cross bar architecture and virtualises 4Gbit/s physical ports into up to 512 virtual ports as well as partitioning its cache for load-balancing. It can have embedded NAS blades, has write-once-read-many (WORM) capability, and offers snapshot copying of data and replication between attached arrays.

Sun offers its own multi-vendor virtualising modular array, the 6920 and is unlikely to resell the NSC55.

HDS' move was expected. With HDS and Sun now both offering multi-vendor virtualised modular arrays with inter-mixed Fibre Channel and SATA drives the onus is on competitors EMC, HP and IBM to offer similar class arrays and functions. EMC, for example, can be expected to announce upgraded Clariions to match and probably exceed the new HDS capabilities.

You might muse about a CX700 with 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel connectivity, a 100TB or so of SATA/FC capacity, 16GB cache and up to 5,012 server connections. A CX400 upgrade to the CX300 must be on the cars as well. Tell your EMC rep you're considering an AMS200/500 purchase and see what comes out of the woodwork.