I recently met Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) for a quick introduction to their object storage solution. Historically known for their midrange and hi-end storage solutions (for example VSP), Hitachi has instead a catalog full of products and applications.
The topic of our meeting has been as I said an overview on their object storage solution. Object storage is one of the “hot topic” right now, and all major vendors like Hitachi and others have worked to offer these kind of technologies, usually integrated with their own block or file storage devices.
Their solution is called Hitachi Content Platform (HCP, Hitachi loves three letters names…) and has all the features you can expect from an object storage, like a single contiguous filespace (it’s limit is at the moment 40 PB per namespace), support for different external filesystems that can be accessed and indexed (NFS, SMB, HTTP/REST, WebDAV…), policy based access, life-cycle management pf the objects, and others.
I’m not going to deep-dive in technical aspects, if you are interested the link I posted at the beginning of this article has many informations. Instead, I would like to understand the values of this solution compared to its competitors available in the market. The listed features are almost a “base line” of an object storage.
So, what are the distinctive advantages of the HCP solution?
Well, first of all it’s from Hitachi. I know it may sounds like a sales pitch, but just like the solutions offered by their competitors (EMC, IBM, HP to name few of them), this product has a starting target in the Hitachi existing customers, that can take advantage of a good integration with the other products of their portfolio.
But, there are for sure other interesting features.
Even if the Hitachi website only shows the hardware models of HCP, there is also a software-only version. In an IT world moving rapidly towards the “software defined” model, the possibility to use existing hardware rather than the one forced by the vendor is a common request coming from customers, especially if there is a virtua machine available and ready to be used; exactly the format offered by Hitachi for its software only solution.
Also, licensing for the virtual HCP is easy and smart: a simple license per managed TB, with a starting point at 4 TB regardless the number of nodes you deploy. It’s easy to make your own maths, and for Service Provider is easy to charge customers. The licensing for hardware versions has also and additional fee for the hardware itself, not so smart but nothing different fro similar solutions…
What’s most interesting in my opinion is the solution for branch offices (HDI, another three letters…): you can deploy a distributed solution, with a central system acting as repository for all the data stored at branch offices. A small storage is then deployed at the branch (and even here it could be an hardware one or the virtual appliance), and it replicates all its data towards the central storage following the rules you configured about frequency, retentions and so on. This solution guarantees local and fast access to data for branch offices (data centralization sometimes is more a problem than a solution when bandwidth between the offices is not so fast) and at the same time additional secirity, both in terms of confidentiality (you can cypher data) and protection (you only need to do backups in the central site).
Finally, the system does not have a proper backup tool, but you can rely on the internal versioning system, and the possibility to replicate data towards another HCP system, or even towards Amazon S3.
To summarize, Hitachi offers an object storage solution with many interesting features, maybe not so innovative like other ones (but this is usually something coming from a startup more than a big vendor) but for sure rock-solid and well-designed, and with many many available features allowing for the deploy of a complete solution.
Hitachi has a strong reputation made of solid and reliable solutions for enterprise markets, and for sure this is a well-designed solution. If you need a complete solution, HCP is for sure on of the possibility you should look at.