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Hitachi debuts new high-end storage line

New TagmaStore plays well with rivals' arrays to keep watch over 32 petabytes of data.

Hitachi Data Systems on Tuesday launched a new high-end storage hardware device whose motto could essentially be "everyone into the pool."

The new TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform can aggregate up to 32 petabytes (or 32 million gigabytes) of internal and external storage into a single virtual storage pool, the company said. HDS calls the TagmaStore its most powerful system ever and claims that it is now the fastest storage system on the market, outpacing the top-performing machines built by rivals EMC, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

The TagmaStore outpaces other high-end storage systems, HDS said, by using a concept known as virtualization, which promises to make computers more adaptable by breaking the tight link between the software and hardware. The goal is to let the TagmaStore handle complex tasks more effectively by enabling easier interaction with devices made by other manufacturers.

Besides managing up to 32 petabytes of storage, the TagmaStore offers new methods for partitioning, or sorting, data as well as more powerful copying tools, according to HDS, a subsidiary of Japanese computing and electronics conglomerate Hitachi. Other features include a new storage networking technology devised by Hitachi, known as the Universal Star Network. Hitachi estimates that the TagmaStore can deliver 2 million IOPs (input-output operations per second) and said the most powerful of the three models provides maximum internal capacity of 332 terabytes (or 332,000 gigabytes).

The cheapest version of the TagmaStore will sell for approximately $700,000, with more powerful models of the storage array priced at more than $1 million. In an event harking back to the lavish product releases of the dot-com era, Hitachi rented out the stylish Guggenheim Museum in New York to unveil the device.

Industry watchers lauded the storage system as Hitachi's most compelling entry yet to the high-end market, a segment where it has been overshadowed by EMC, IBM and Sun. Galen Schreck, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said HDS' use of virtualization may strike a chord with some IT departments looking to simplify their data management tasks.

"IBM and EMC have external virtualization schemes, but this is the first array that will allow for virtualization of other arrays, and it could eliminate a layer of complexity in terms of storage consolidation and resource pooling," Schreck said. He defines virtualization as establishing, through the use of advanced software, a "concert (between multiple devices) that doesn't physically exist."

Schreck said that although HDS has not launched new storage concepts with TagmaStore, the company has attempted to consolidate a number of emerging technologies in a single package. That approach, he said, could appeal to some businesses, as IBM and others are likely to continue marketing similar technologies in multiple pieces.

If the device enables businesses to gain access to additional storage space quickly, HDS should improve its competitive odds, the analyst said.

"(TagmaStore) could be important, because it validates storage virtualization in the high-end environment," Schreck said. "HDS remains a contender, as their performance is well-respected, and they're also on the map in offering advanced consolidation capabilities."