Hitachi Data Systems upgrades its midrange storage offering

Three new models join Hitachi's Adaptable Modular Storage range, adding support for SAS disks and a new dynamic load-balancing system with two active controllers

Hitachi Data Systems has added three new models to its Adaptable Modular Storage (AMS) range, introducing support for SAS (serial attached SCSI) disks and a new dynamic load-balancing system with two active controllers.

The inclusion of symmetrical active-active controllers in the new models means enterprises can save on a whole range of software costs, said Michel Alliel, products and solutions manager at Hitachi Data Systems.

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There's now no need to buy software to manage paths between controllers and disks, or to perform load-balancing to even out traffic demands between two controllers, he said, as the AMS2000 series handles that automatically.

A task such as reconfiguring a system after adding a new disk tray can now be done in seconds, rather than hours, he said.

That dynamic balancing and automatic creation of paths holds good even when it comes to putting one controller out of action for a firmware update.

"There's finer granularity of the elements that you can shut down to update them," Alliel said.

The support for SAS disks offers a number of advantages over older Fibre Channel systems, according to Alliel.

For one thing, it makes life simpler, as it's now possible to mix SATA and SAS disks in the same tray. Enterprises might want a mix of disk types in the same system, as SAS is better suited to high-performance, nonstop storage, whereas SATA might be more appropriate for high volumes of data that must be kept online but are needed less often.

It's also possible to address SAS disks individually over a point-to-point communications channel, whereas Fibre Channel disks would be linked together, with up to 60 of them on the same loop.

Hitachi Data Systems also touted the lower energy consumption of the new models, thanks to their ability to spin down little-used SATA disks, and to turn them off altogether if they remained unused for extended periods. Slowing a SATA disk from 7,200 rpm (revolutions per minute) to between 3,800 and 4,200 rpm can cut its power consumption from 7 watts to around 4.2W, Alliel said.

The AMS2100 holds up to 120 SATA or SAS disks and has a maximum cache size of 8GB, with prices starting at $31,500. The AMS2300 holds up to 240 disks and 16GB of cache, and starts at $47,500. Both are available now.

The top-of-the-range AMS2500 has a maximum cache size of 32GB, can handle up to 480 SATA or SAS disks, and has a starting price of $81,500. It won't appear until around the end of the year, said Emilie Lieblich, marketing manager for Hitachi Data Systems France.

Fans of the existing AMS models can still buy them until October 2009, and after that Hitachi Data Systems will offer support for five more years, through 2014.

Meanwhile, the company plans to offer a part exchange scheme for owners of the existing models wanting to upgrade. Staff were not immediately able to say what allowances would be made for old equipment, however.

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