HDS seeing heavy demand for new Virtual Storage Platform

Hitachi Virtual Storage PlatformTwo months after it introduced the product line, Hitachi Data Systems Canada is seeing significant interest in its Virtual Storage Platform high-end data centre storage systems, the company says.

“We have customers lined up. We were expecting a lot of interest, but it’s exceeded our expectations,” said Christopher Willis, senior director of solutions consulting at HDS Canada.

Barry Morrison, regional vice president for HDS Canada, said it’s reached the point where customers are putting off planned purchases of previous-generation products to get their hands on VSP.

Introduced in Santa Clara at the end of September, VSP is Hitachi’s latest high-end storage offering, although the company says it also sees it as an opportunity to drive enterprise-class functionality further into the midmarket, and into its channel partners.

The storage vendor touts VSP as being the first storage platform to offer “3D scaling” – scaling up, out and deep, and sees it as the culmination (so far) of its drive to offer storage-level virtualization.

Although the company does see it as midmarket-friendly, Morrison said the initial demand for VSP has been pretty heavy in the enterprise, for those looking for performance bumps and TCO drops in their data centre, where the array’s density story figures heavily.

The company’s channel is 100 per cent trained up on VSP and ready to deliver to end users, Morrison said, in many instances getting trained on the technology before HDS staffers. And many of the company’s largest integrators, particularly in the telco space, are also likely early customers, he suggested.

Bradley Brodkin, president of Toronto-based HighVail Systems, said he’s seeing “a tremendous amount of interest around VSP,” and gave Hitachi’s marketing message of 3D scaling a lot of credit for that, saying that the concept has “made people curious and created a lot of interest.”

Most of the interest is coming from larger enterprises for HighVail, Brodkin reported, with banks and the rest of the financial sector being particularly hot spots. He also expects to see interest from telcos, especially due to the cloud connection for the product.

That said, he’s still a while from selling his first deployment of VSP.

“Right now, there’s a lot of tire-kicking, which is typical of new Hitachi products,” he said. “It usually takes us about four to six months to start seeing revenue on new products, and VSP is holding true to that trend.” He said he expects to have the product rolled out with customers towards the end of the first quarter of 2011.

But he does know who will get HighVail’s first VSP deployment. Brodkin said he intends to bring the product into HighVail’s own labs to get to know the technology and offer proof of concepts to its customers.

“Our value-add is the depth of knowledge we have, and our experience with VSP will take us that much further,” he said.

Morrison said Hitachi currently has nine Platinum partners in Canada, and it’s looking to grow that number 20 to 25 per cent, mostly by elevating some of its Gold partners up the ladder. He also reported the company is actively signing up VARs into the program, most notably signing up “a lot” of Sun VARs. Currently, the company does about 40 per cent of its business in Canada through VARs, although Morrison said he expects that figure to grow to about 60 per cent as it continues its push into the midmarket space.

In an interesting services possibility, Willis said the ease of adding disk to the new array, and the ability to use simple 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives in the box, mean that companies can put off overprovisioning today to add more storage as needed, and at market prices. That could open the doors to solution providers offering VSP customers a “storage subscription” service, where they regularly deliver the needed storage as it’s required.

“Because it’s so painless, customers don’t mind doing it regularly,” Willis said of the capacity upgrade process.

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