HP, Sun to resell new high-end Hitachi array

Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems both plan to announce Wednesday that they will resell a high-end disk array being introduced by Hitachi Data Systems.

Hitachi declined to comment on its new array in advance of an official announcement this week. But Shebly Seyrafi, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co, said Hitachi plans to unveil the third generation of its Lightning array, ratcheting up its competition with EMC in the high-end storage market.

Hitachi launched its first Lightning array in 2000 and followed that two years later with its current Lightning 9900V models. EMC lost market share to Hitachi after both product announcements, Seyrafi said. But early last year, EMC launched a new Symmetrix DMX high-end line. "We do not foresee EMC losing as much share as in prior Lightning announcements, as it has a much-improved product, but we do expect some share loss," Seyrafi said.

HP said it plans to market the new array as its StorageWorks XP12000 model. The XP12000, which starts at US$450,000, can scale up to 165TB of capacity across five cabinets, according to HP officials. It can also be integrated with previous XP-model arrays through an external storage tool kit, they said.

Sun confirmed that it will also resell the new Lightning device, but the company declined to comment further until tomorrow's announcement.

The Next Phase

IDC analyst Robert Gray said the high-end arrays that HP and Sun now offer are made by Hitachi, "so all they're doing is rolling over to the next technology."

HP said it has added software to the XP12000 that will support clustering and fail-over functionality. "If you have a power outage in a building or experience some other man-made or natural disaster . . . you can seamlessly fail over to another data center up to 100 kilometers away," said Kyle Fitze, HP's director of marketing for online storage.

HP's existing midrange and high-end arrays, the XP128 and XP1024, scale up to 18TB and 149TB of capacity, respectively. In addition to the capacity boost that the XP12000 will provide, the new array is less of a monolithic system than the XP1024 is, Fitze said. He noted that the XP12000 also adds support for external storage, cache partitioning and continuous access journaling, which ensures that data being mirrored between two arrays is synchronized.

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