connect-mobile_1You know, HDS is the acronym for Hitachi Data Systems. The company, thanks to Jack Domme’s leadership, has been changing very quickly and drastically and it can no longer be considered a storage company, now it looks much like a modern 360° Data company, and “Data Systems” in its name means even more now. I already talked about this change last year after their event but it’s much more evident and clear now.

Storage is still at the core

vsp-g400-dispDon’t get me wrong, Hardware (and storage in particular) is still 46% of HDS business but the rest (54%!) is all about services (including cloud) and software. At the same time, I don’t think these numbers say a lot about vision and strategy of this company.

In fact, on one side, it is very important to note that during the first day many new hardware products were launched. For example, I particularly like the stripped-down VSP G1000 series, with the G200, 400, 600 and 800 models. Especially the G200, with its all-included licensing model, can be a great thing for mid sized enterprises. And the HSP is also very compelling, an openstack-based appliance particularly optimized for Hadoop and BigData workloads. Neat!

But,what I’m about to say next is actually the most interesting part of the story.

A huge company

Globally speaking, Hitachi is a 321K employee and 900+ subsidiary sized company. They can leverage experience in many different fields (ranging from automotive and machinery to energy and healthcare). IT is a small, but important, part of it. HITACHI builds things from sensors to trains, power plants and end-to-end solutions for vertical markets. For example, sensors are producing huge amounts of data for their customers and HDS can be the connecting element that puts it all together with the analytics part.
From this point of view, the relationship between Hitachi and its own HDS company is quite interesting, and you can really see the huge change and potential here.

IoT and BigData for enterprises

IMG_20150428_084624Acquisitions like Penthao are really interesting but it’s not enough to explain it all. The company is also building a lot of IP by leveraging its own assets and other acquisitions too. The new HSP is just an example at the infrastructure level, but what I realised while I was walking through their show floor, is that the story they are telling about integrating a common knowledge-base across all the subsidiaries looks much more feasible than it did at first sight and it is helping to build innovative solutions.

HDS is evolving

I’m impressed by HDS. They are brilliantly managing the transition from being a Storage company to being a Data company. And the most important aspect is that they are not losing their focus on storage (and IT infrastructure) but they are building on top of it.

The target market hasn’t changed, but has expanded substantially now. Their existing, loyal large enterprise customers can expect more from HDS, and HDS can be more responsive because it can leverage much more IP than in the past. It can also be much more effective in producing vertical solutions thanks to Hitachi backend and expertise (and not just in pure IT space!). Sometimes the boundaries between HDS and Hitachi can get quite fuzzy (and, it seems good to me).

Is it just (much) better marketing? Yes, it could be, but I think that all the changes in their mindset we are seeing today are very profound and have actually started a while back. Vision and strategy are very well thought out. What will be important to see from now on is how they will be executed in the field.

Closing the circle

Storing data, safely and efficiently, is no longer the stake on the table. It’s taken for granted! HDS know that.
Now, differentiation comes from:
– how stored data is managed and analyzed,
– how (private/public) cloud is leveraged,
– how much the infrastructure is aware of the data and related workloads.

These three elements together lead to smarter storage infrastructures… and HDS is working on this.
HDS is not the only one that is pursuing this evolution, and you can see it happening in a few others vendors, but in this context HDS has the advantage of having an industrial partner/backend like HITACHI.

My only (big) concern is how HDS will be able to transfer this vision to sales forces in the field and partners around the world. It will take time and sales people are usually slow at adapting to mindset changes… especially in this case where the real power (or potential?) of HDS/HITACHI could come from big joint projects and cross-selling opportunities!

Disclaimer: I was invited to this meeting by HDS and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or edited by any other person than the Juku team.