HDS developing Unified Compute Platform for cloud

Hitachi Data Systems has revealed details of its upcoming bundling of servers, storage, networking and management software, which is aimed at virtualisation

Hitachi Data Systems is developing a unified computing platform for enterprise datacentres that consists of blade servers, storage and network hardware, together with software to manage this equipment, the company announced on Monday.

The Unified Compute Platform (UCP) will also include Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2, System Center and SQL Server 2008 products. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) hopes the UCP — which it said will ship in early 2011 — will help businesses deploy and manage virtualised applications for both private and public clouds.

The company said it developed the UCP after requests from customers for a bundled virtualisation offering covering storage and networking. "We've had quite a few requests from customers looking for packaged solutions around a virtualised environment," HDS product management chief Bob Plumridge told ZDNet UK on Tuesday.

The UCP is based on technology HDS launched in October 2009 that supported private clouds only. It now includes Hitachi's BladeSymphony blade servers and management software.

HDS believes the management software, which it is currently writing in-house and to which it refers as "orchestration software", will be critical to the success of the UCP. The software centrally manages all the processes for the servers, storage, network and applications involved. It also details usage according to department, so datacentre charges can be allocated to each department in the business if required.

Miki Sandorfi, HDS's chief strategist, said in a blog post on Monday the company was building on the concept of unified stacks "by adding end-to-end orchestrated management that will provide an integrated and truly unified compute platform for datacentres and cloud deployments".

The UCP will initially be based on Hitachi's products, but the company says other vendors' equipment could in future be swapped in. The platform will work with Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's ESX hypervisors. Networking will be based on fibre channel and Ethernet components.

HDS does not sell its own networking equipment, leading Plumridge to say that the company will partner with a networking vendor before the platform is released. He declined to name the vendor.

The announcement of HDS's platform will take the company into competition with Cisco, with the Unified Computing System that company has developed with EMC and VMware, and also other vendors with their integrated stacks. Although Cisco, which launched its proposition in March 2009, has beaten HDS to market by a long way, Plumridge claimed that HDS's orchestration software would be a key differentiator between the two offerings.

"I think the real key is the orchestration software... and the value-add it will bring in the ease of management and deployment," said Plumridge. "The Cisco solution is very much around the integration of the hardware in a standard bundle."

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