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The Evolution of Hitachi Data Systems

The Evolution of Hitachi Data Systems

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It wasn’t long ago that many people used to think of Hitachi Data Systems, aka HDS as nothing more than a box shifter.  I myself have to admit at being complicit in that view, being somewhat negative of the release of Hitachi High Availability Manager in 2009.  The other criticism levelled at the company was the quality of their software, which to be fair, ten years ago was pretty poor.  However things have changed on many fronts.  HDS isn’t the company it used to be and with the co-operation of their Hitachi parent, the company is becoming a force to be reckoned with.


Picking holes in HDS’s software was an easy target.  The HiCommand had many faults, including poor integration with things like Active Directory and some very strange workflow processes.  However that’s all changed.  Work done by Sean Moser and his team has brought their software portfolio (including Command Suite) up to and in some cases significantly better than the competition.  They’ve fixed the key things that matter like making the software more intuitive, having it integrate cross-product and platform and of course most significantly of all, making it efficient to work with.  


Do HDS sell storage arrays?  Yes they do, but over recent years through acquisition and development, they’ve added a lot more.  You’d expect SAN and NAS support (NAS added via the BlueArc acquisition) and probably most under-rated is the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP).  HCP was developed from the acquisition of Archivas in 2007 and has since been expanded to be a general content management platform rather than specifically for archive.  Most recently HCP gained the ability to share data externally of the enterprise on BYOD devices using HCP Anywhere.  HDS also sell converged infrastructure with blade servers, using technology that was only initially available inside Japan.


Probably the most significant recent announcement by the company was made on 7th August and details the creation of a new team to integrate the knowledge of HDS and the parent company Hitachi.  To be known as the Global Office of Technology and Planning (GOTP), this move allows technology in the wider Hitachi to find use within the storage and management of data.  This doesn’t simply mean building better storage arrays, but allows HDS to start moving “up the stack” and thinking about data management, rather than just storing bits and bytes.  Michael Hay will head up the new department and that’s surely a good thing.  I’ve met Michael on many occasions and all of them resulted in great conversations.

Social Media & Engagement

Finally, we shouldn’t forget their social media strategy.  HDS has a new series of videos on release, fronted by Greg Knieriemen, well known IT media celebrity and producer of the Speaking in Tech podcasts.  Rather than trying to wow us by riding motorcycles over empty array frames or copying the format of well known British motoring shows, the I/O video series focuses on issues that matter to those people in the enterprise charged with delivering technology.  In addition, more people than ever blog for HDS and more are on Twitter and social media.  Then there’s the new HDS Community, which replaces the Forum website.  There’s also been a recent Google+ Hangout on Openstack, which hopefully will be one of many to come.

The Architect’s View

HDS have made great strides forward with their strategy to widen the focus of the company.  I’m most excited about the integration with Hitachi and the myriad ideas that will flow from that deeper partnership.  Competition in this industry is good, whether from startups or the existing big players.  What’s most important is doing it with a focus on the customer and customer issues.

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Disclaimer:  I have attended a number of events with Hitachi, where flights and accommodation has been covered by the company.  However there is no requirement or obligation for me to blog about HDS/Hitachi products and any posts are not vetted for content prior to publication.  I am not engaged with or being paid by Hitachi or HDS.

Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair.  If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration.

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Copyright (c) 2013 – Brookend Ltd, first published on http://architecting.it, do not reproduce without permission.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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