Hitachi Offers Private, Public Cloud Storage

Hitachi Data Systems is taking a two-pronged approach to storage in the cloud. The company this week announced a private cloud storage service for enterprises as well as a public cloud storage offering that service providers, integrators, and telcos can offer their consumer or SMB customers.

Here are the details:

Private Cloud Storage -- Hitachi Cloud Service for Private File Tiering lets enterprise customers move legacy data from primary networked attached storage (NAS) into a cloud solution. The cloud environment resides at the customer’s site and consists of three main components: Hitachi’s Adaptable Modular Storage systems, Hitachi Content Platform for housing unstructured data, and Hitachi Data Protection Suite software. The latter, provided under an OEM arrangement with CommVault, provides policy-based tiering of data from local NAS filers to the private cloud. A customer could set a policy to move data older than 90 days into the cloud, for example.

Linda Xu, director of product marketing for Hitachi’s file, content, and cloud services, said much of an organization’s data is inactive, residing on primary NAS storage where it is repeatedly backed up. The company, however, aims to tame the proliferation of unstructured data by moving it into the cloud. Customers, meanwhile, will be able to for focus their NAS resources on frequently accessed data, according to the company.

Hitachi’s private cloud storage service may sound a lot like storage virtualization and hierarchical storage management (HSM) -- approaches that have been around for years. The company, however, is pouring the old wine of virtualization and HSM into the new cask of managed services. Hitachi’s approach wraps managed services around existing technologies and delivers them as a cloud package.

Hitachi owns the private cloud storage equipment located at the customer’s site and manages the cloud package remotely. As a consequence, there’s no upfront capex for customers and they don’t have to invest in personnel to manage the private cloud, Xu said. Customers receive a monthly bill based on usage.

General availability of the private cloud storage service is expected in a couple of months.

Public Cloud Storage -- Hitachi offers public online cloud storage through a partnership with Digi-Data Corp., which provides cloud storage solutions to OEMs. The arrangement lets channel partners provide cloud storage-as-a-service offerings to consumers and SMBs, according to Hitachi. Xu cited online PC backup as an example of a service partners can offer their customers.

A spokeswoman for Hitachi said the public cloud storage offering debuted in October 2009, but wasn’t announced at the time.

Potential Outlook

In both the public and private cloud storage domains, Hitachi seems to be taking the legwork out of cloud storage. Enterprises can tap a private cloud without actually having to acquire and maintain the hardware and software. Service providers can offer a turnkey consumer/SMB cloud storage solution on a private-label basis.

Differentiation may prove the main challenge, however, particularly at the consumer/SMB level where online backup services abound. In the enterprise field, Hitachi plans to stand out as an onsite solution for customers hesitant to park their data in the public cloud. Xu said security is the top cloud worry among the customers Hitachi encounters.

But Hitachi will likely run into competition for this approach as well. Nirvanix has unveiled its hNode hybrid offering that provides on-premise cloud storage.

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