The new relationship that Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) struck with InMage Systems to use InMage about three months ago had a number of immediate ramifications. It provided HDS with a new heterogeneous replication option that it could use across its own storage systems; it made HDS more competitive in customer accounts where it did not traditionally have a foothold and it provided an entrée for HDS into next generation data protection technologies for disaster recovery. So while today’s announcement that HDS is formally introducing InMage as Hitachi Dynamic Replicator (HDR) is no great surprise, it does create some interesting new opportunities for HDS and its customers going forward.
The need that HDS (or any storage system provider) has for a product like InMage is immediately evident to anyone who has worked in an enterprise data center. Whether the customer wants to upgrade from a vendor’s older model to a newer storage system or needs to switch to another vendor’s storage system, the data migration process is often painful and tedious.
HDS’s technical product manager, Rudy Castillo, described the planning and labor that both HDS and its customers need to go through in completing a data migration from one storage system to another (same or competitive vendor) as a “white gloves process”. These data migrations are often intrusive to the customer environment as they can take long periods of time to plan and execute plus they can require the customer schedule application downtime.
The availability of HDR should immediately reduce many of these data migration issues that HDS and its customers face when performing them. Since InMage is already a proven product in many Linux, UNIX and Windows customer accounts, HDS can immediately provide references to prospective clients as to the viability of the product.
This is part of Castillo’s vision that HDS can transform the data migration process from a “white gloves” operation into a “low touch” model that reduces the amount of effort, time and money that its customers have to devote to the process. Since the product has just been announced, Castillo is still working through the numbers in terms of what types of cost and time savings that customers might expect, but he says, “The savings will be an order of magnitude greater than before.”
Already he is receiving internal requests from HDS’s professional services to use this product in current engagements as well as situations where HDS is looking to take out competitive products. The internal demand within HDS’s professional services for this solution has been so great that it has surpassed even his expectations such that he expects HDR to contribute significantly to HDS’s revenue.
However using HDR for data migrations is only part of his vision. The original intent and design of the underlying InMage software is for disaster recovery (DR) which, to a certain degree, puts it in direct competition with other enterprise data protection solutions already available from HDS – whether it is HDS’s own Shadow Image and TrueCopy Remote Replication or its Hitachi Data Protection Suite (HDPS) powered by CommVault.
However he does not see this as a problem short or long term. In the near term, InMage will be re-badged with HDS collateral put around it so it can be used for the purposes described above.
Longer term, he has more ambitious plans for this software. He does not see HDS customers abandoning any of the current HDS data protection solutions they are using now. Rather he sees HDR as complementing these solutions in four important ways.
- First, because HDR takes full copies of production and can take consistent snapshots of this data, HDR customers can present these snapshots to the backup software so they can do off-host backups of this data.
- Second, organizations do not want to abandon their enterprise backup software but right now HDR is not able to be managed by either HDPS or Symantec NetBackup. Castillo would like to leverage his existing relationships with these two data protection providers to add centralized management support for HDR.
- Third, HDS professional services periodically need to take storage systems off-line to perform storage system maintenance or upgrades. Using HDR, they can failover applications from one storage system to another and accomplish this maintenance or upgrades non-disruptively.
- Finally, HDS sees customers spend a lot of money on DR solutions but then either only rarely or never test these solutions. Using HDR, they can now test their DR plans at any time including physical to virtual test scenarios.
HDR is a powerful piece of software that HDS just added to its solutions portfolio that makes it easier for customers to affordably stay with HDS storage system plus they can just as affordably and non-disruptively move to HDS storage systems from competitive solutions.
The real power of HDR is not the tactical data migration problems that it solves (though enterprise customers will surely love that functionality). Smart organizations will quickly recognize HDR’s potential to solve a multitude of other storage management and DR challenges that they regularly face. As they gain this awareness, it suddenly takes on the role of becoming a piece of software that is both tactical and strategic to the overall management of their data centers.