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Hitachi opens gateway to NetApp tools

Hitachi Data Systems gets ready to launch a series of products that act as a gateway between its disk arrays and software from Network Appliance.

Hitachi Data Systems is introducing a series of products that act as a gateway between its disk arrays and file-sharing software from Network Appliance.

The products, scheduled for launch on Tuesday, allow customers of the Hitachi subsidiary to use NetApp's operating system, which is typically used only in conjunction with less-expensive boxes, known as filers. Although this approach is more costly, HDS said many customers want the simplicity of NetApp's software, but also want the additional management features that come with using higher-end disk arrays.

"Really, what it means is that I don't have to treat NAS (network-attached storage) data differently than the SAN (storage area network) data," said Kevin Sampson, HDS's director of marketing for network-attached storage. "It's for customers that want both SAN and NAS or have a need for both."

HDS and NetApp announced a deal in December in which Hitachi would sell NetApp gear. At the time, the two companies talked about developing products like those being announced this week. In teaming up with NetApp, HDS is acknowledging the long-predicted merging of network-attached storage gear with storage area networks.

Specifically, HDS is introducing two gateways that work with its high-end Lightning arrays, as well as a lower-end product that works with HDS's Thunder boxes. The two high-end gateways are available immediately, while the Thunder-compliant one will be available later this quarter, Sampson said. HDS will be the exclusive seller of the boxes, which will carry both companies' brand names.

The announcement comes as the storage industry gathers in Phoenix this week for the Storage Networking World">Storage Networking World trade show.

At one time, HDS offered its own gateway product line for the low end of the NAS market, but the company discontinued the effort six months ago. "It really wasn't meeting the needs of the customers," Sampson said.

HDS's parent company is also working on a project known as eNAS, in which an array would contain an embedded blade server for handling NAS functions. Sampson said the company will talk more about that in the coming months, but that the effort is aimed at a different set of customers.