HDS revamps Unified Compute Platform integrated infrastructure

Hitachi Data Systems brings out new UCP integrated infrastructure, with turnkey bundle and reference architectures.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. today launched a new version of its Unified Compute Platform converged infrastructure, which the vendor bills as completely different from the 2010 version of its UCP.

The Unified Compute Platform (UCP) of two years ago was Microsoft software-centric, using Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) storage with an OEM version of Microsoft's System Center management software. The new UCP includes a VMware-centric turnkey solution with Hitachi storage and servers, networking from partners and new HDS-developed orchestration software. There is also a set of reference architectures consisting of HDS storage, as well as servers and networking from Hitachi and partners.

"What we had two years ago is so much different than what we're announcing today, it's not even a rev of it, it's completely changed," said Ravi Chalaka, vice president of solutions marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company. "We had a different type of software orchestration and it came with [Microsoft] Hyper-V. The software now is completely integrated into VMware vCenter, so customers are working with a familiar vCenter interface."

Integrated stack of storage, server and networking

The 2012 HDS Unified Compute Platform consists of Hitachi UCP Pro and Hitachi UCP Select stacks. UCP Pro is the turnkey stack that includes HDS' Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) enterprise array, Hitachi Compute Blade Server CB500, and Brocade 6510 Fibre Channel and VDX 6720-60 Ethernet switches.

Chalaka said there will eventually be several versions of UCP Pro. The first version is UCP Pro for VMware vSphere and includes HDS' new UCP Director software. UCP Director is integrated with vCenter to let customers provision, manage and troubleshoot storage, servers and switches from the vSphere management screen.

UCP Pro for vSphere is pre-configured for IOPS, capacity, tiering and network port requirements. It supports 1,000 virtual machines per chassis and scales to eight chassis.

Reference architectures for specific applications

UCP Select is a set of validated reference architectures built around HDS VSP or midrange Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) 130 or 150 storage. The configurations can also include Hitachi CB2000, 500 and 320, or Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, and Cisco and Brocade FC and Ethernet switches. A few Select architectures for high-performance applications also include Fusion-io PCIe-based solid-state cards.

UCP Select architectures are configured according to application. They include three server virtualization configurations (UCP Select for VMware vSphere 5.1, vSphere 5.1 with Cisco Server and Microsoft Private Cloud 2), as well as versions for Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange, Oracle Database and SAP HANA. Chalaka said UCP Select for Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View for virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) will be the next two reference architectures.

The reference architectures are tested and certified with the hardware and application partners.

Chalaka said HDS will expand both UCP Pro and Select. The vendor will add third-party servers to the Pro stack, but that won't happen for at least a year, he said. HDS will also include more of its storage platforms in future Pro configurations, but the first version supports only VSP. The Select roadmap also calls for support of more vendors' products.

HDS' new offerings come late to the converged infrastructure market both for reference architectures and integrated stacks. The concept is rapidly growing as data center managers hope to speed and simplify the deployment and management of their infrastructure. The stacks can be bought through one purchase order with one source of support, and pre-tested systems can be deployed faster.

NetApp (FlexPod) and EMC (Vspex) sell storage reference architectures with some of the same partners as HDS. Integrated IT stacks with storage include VCE (joint venture of EMC, Cisco and VMware) Vblock, Dell vStart, IBM PureSystems and Hewlett-Packard VirtualSystem and CloudSystem Matrix. Oracle Corp.' Exadata Database Machine is an integrated stack for that vendor’s software, and startups Nutanix, Scale Computing and SimpliVity have packaged storage, servers and virtualization into one box.

HDS UCP competes with all of those stacks, but Chalaka said the market is still young and his vendor's converged systems are more cohesive than earlier converged architectures.

"The first generation of converged infrastructure, including ours, had limitations," Chalaka said. "Some had commodity servers; others used storage that doesn't scale well. A lot of them are still using the same management tools as if you were managing everything independently."

Mark Bowker, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass., said the growing list of converged architectures reflects organizations' needs to simplify data centers.

"A lot of this is driven by IT's need to consume things differently," Bowker said. "They’re consuming technology in a much more turnkey type of approach. The focus on orchestration is super important. There's an overall belief inside IT that disciplines are changing. There is more need for an IT planner than a storage or server architect."

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