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Hitachi aims to ease storage management

In a new sign of the push toward "information life cycle management," Hitachi Data Systems plans on Wednesday to announce software for moving data between different storage devices.

In a new sign of the push toward "information life cycle management," Hitachi Data Systems plans on Wednesday to announce software for moving data between different storage devices.

The company also is unveiling improvements to its high-end Lightning V storage systems and a high-capacity midrange storage product, called the Thunder 9580V.

Information life cycle management refers to methods for storing and tracking data from the time it is created to the time it is deleted. Data that is critical to a business this week, for example, may deserve a spot on an expensive, high-end device, but later on could be moved to a less costly machine. A number of storage companies are developing information lifecycle management strategies.

Hitachi said its HiCopy software will allow a customer to shift information from its Lightning V systems to its midrange Thunder V systems without needing a server computer to intervene in the process.

"Before, we could do Lightning-to-Lightning copies, and Thunder-to-Thunder copies," said Hubert Yoshida, chief technology officer for Hitachi Data Systems. "Now we can do that across the platforms."

HiCopy is slated to be released in January 2004. Customers will be able to use it with existing Lightning V systems, the company said.

Hitachi sells its own storage systems, but computer makers Hewlett-Packard and Sun also sell Hitachi gear. Both companies recently renewed contracts with Hitachi. Although worldwide spending on external disk storage systems declined 5 percent in the second quarter of 2003 from same period the year before, Hitachi's revenue jumped 10.7 percent to $235 million, according to research firm IDC. IDC ranked Hitachi fifth in revenue in the category, behind HP, EMC, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

Hitachi's upgrades to the Lightning 9900 V series include increasing the number of ports using the ESCON interconnect technology and doubling the maximum cache capacity from 64GB to 128GB. The cache is a tool to temporarily store data, and doubling it in the Lightning should improve the overall speed of the machine, Hitachi said.

Another change to the Lightning involves taking a Hitachi technology now used in mainframes and making it work with server computers that run operating systems such as Unix. That technology can help companies abide by regulations on data preservation, Hitachi said. Once data has been written, it can be retrieved and read by authorized applications, but not altered or deleted, for a mandated retention period.

The Thunder 9580V has up to 64 terabytes of capacity, up from a current limit of 32 terabytes. In addition, a larger number of server computers can connect to the new device. The price for a Thunder 9580V ranges from $110,000 to $500,000, depending on the configuration. It will be available next month, according to the company.

Ron Johnson, an analyst with research firm Evaluator Group, said companies may be attracted to the new Thunder when looking to consolidate their storage area networks, which are networks of storage devices often used by larger companies. "It should have exceptional performance," he said.