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N+I: Hitachi unveils True North initiative

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has taken a lesson from EMC's AutoIS enterprise storage management strategy and is unveiling its own enterprise storage management initiative, called True North, at the NetWorld+Interop 2002 trade show in Las Vegas.

Like AutoIS, True North is a wide-reaching effort to partner HDS with storage software developers and hardware companies, such as switch vendors. This will allow users access to storage products from multiple suppliers via a single interface.

True North also promises to deliver policy-based automation that finally permits storage administrators to manage multiple tasks, such as SRM (storage resource management) and storage network monitoring from a single management console, according to Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group.

"The reason there is so much energy focused on the storage management is because customers haven't had very good policy-based tools and automation. They've had resident function, but no framework," said Prigmore.

True North intends to provide such a framework through the combination of storage software, storage hardware, and aggressive collaboration with third-party storage vendors that create as open a storage framework as possible.

"True North as an overriding strategy that has three key components; hardware, software, and APIs [application programming interfaces]," explained Chris Worrall, the vice-president of product management at HDS.

HDS's HiCommand storage software will provide the management framework for True North, and HDS is using the show to launch a new Lightning 9900a V-Series storage server to fortify the hardware component.

The third leg of True North will be for HDS to pursue API trading partnerships with storage component vendors to deliver the maximum amount of functionality to mixed-vendor storage networks.

"Key to our strategy is the ability to collaborate with all our partners, whether they be the ISV - independent software vendors - or the IHV [hardware], or the customer, to allow users to integrate solutions to be part of our open framework," said Worrall.

Both Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard will resell the Lightning 9900a V-Series storage server. Launch announcements from the two companies are expected to arrive this week.

"Hitachi has an install base through traditional Hitachi sales efforts and, more importantly, through Hewlett-Packard and Sun, and this has put HDS in a situation where they have lots of storage clients that now have management problems," said Prigmore.

"With EMC out there with AutoIS, it would have been impossible for Hitachi to continue to exist as a viable vendor unless it put in place a comprehensive storage management strategy. It had to do True North, customers were demanding it."

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