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There’s a tendency to think of the enterprise as one massive entity. In reality, an enterprise is much like the average city, which is usually made up a series of neighborhoods that share access to common services. Similarly, most enterprise IT organizations are an amalgamation of divisional systems that ideally should depend on a common management systems.

.The exception to that rule over the years has been storage. Most enterprise organizations have a mix of file, block and object storage systems that make it difficult to manage enterprise storage under a common management framework.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) wants to change that status quo in the enterprise. The company today launched the Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) platform, which allows enterprise IT organizations to unify the management of up to 3 petabytes of file, block and object storage under a common management framework called the Hitachi Command Suite.

This creates a significant opportunity for solution providers because as storage management continues to spiral out of control IT organizations are more amenable to new approaches. While the cost per terabyte of storage continues to drop, the amount of storage being consumed is rising sharply. The end result is that storage now accounts for a major percentage of the IT budget. IT organizations have been successful reducing costs by consolidating servers, but the total cost of storage has remained stubbornly high.

The idea that a storage systems should be able to simultaneously be able to support file, block and object data types isn’t particularly new. But building a unified storage system that scales has been a challenge.

For this reason most usage of unified storage systems has been limited to small-to-medium (SMB) organizations where scale was as important as the ability to contain management costs. Sean Moser, vice president for Software Platforms Product Management at HDS, says that now enterprise IT organizations are being asked to consolidate departmental applications that support a variety of different storage formats.

Previously, each format typically required the IT organization to acquire a dedicated storage system, which becomes expensive manage. In addition, the volume of data that IT organizations are now being asked to manage is strewn across the enterprise. In order to restore the cost of labor associated with managing those systems, IT organizations need to be able to aggressively centralize them.

HDS is already rallying its Hitachi TrueNorth Partner community to educate customers about the virtues of unified storage in the enterprise. According to Moser, HDS is the only enterprise-class provider of storage systems capable of consolidating multi-protocol storage systems without compromising application performance.

In addition, Moser points out that we’re witnessing the beginning of the reunification of the management of data and storage in the enterprise. Instead of managing storage systems in isolation, IT organizations are attempting to optimize the utilization of storage systems by proactively managing data. In the past, IT organizations tended to manage all data equally. But now that the volume of data that needs to be managed has grown exponentially, they are looking to solution providers in the channel for ways to help them prioritize the management of data not only based on the cost of storing, but also the actual value of that data to the organization.