Hitachi announced VAAI support for external virtualized storage on their high-end storage platform: VSP.

VSP is one of the main contenders in the high-end storage arena, and one of its main strength is the ability to virtualize external storage, leveraging previous investments in tier 2 or tier 3 storage.

VAAI is one of the most touted features in the VMware world, VAAI is the acronym for vStorage API for Array Integration and vendors raced to support it in their firmwares but HDS is the first vendor to deliver a storage virtualization platform with VAAI.

Benefits are huge, from accelerating old non-VAAI storages to cross-storage acceleration (e.g. between a virtualized Clariion and a virtualized AMS), this is really a game-changer for enterprises that have adopted the Hitachi platform, this will also enhance their penetration in big VMware shops even if they’re still lacking a real VM-optimized storage management tool (as in vSphere integration).

Now HDS has definitely a killer product in the higher end of the market (sub-lun tiering, VAAI, external virtualization, SFF drives, full SAS backend), they should start focusing on their midrange and low end market, AMS already has VAAI support but is still lagging behind almost all the other storage vendors, they lack N:N replication features, a unified storage offering and a more streamlined management tool.

Hope to see some product refreshes from Hitachi in the midrange space this year, AMS 2000 and SMS 100 were released in 2008 and they start to look really dated in 2011.