While I’ll continue the Flash series I’ve been posting here, I wanted to pause for a moment to mention something else. You see Leo Leung, a friend, a good guy, an aficionado of good music and a super-smart tech marketer recently started up an interesting new technology blog (Tech Expectations) with another respected industry veteran, Andrew Reichman.
One of the first posts, Data storage market overview: State of the market in 2014, caught my attention for obvious reasons. Given my history with Leo, it came as no surprise that I the graphic which is central to the post, and Leo’s assessment of the market place, are both very good. I recommend giving his analysis a review.
However, while I like the analysis, I believe Hitachi Data Systems, was pretty dramatically under-represented. And since Leo himself recently told me that we at Hitachi “need to be louder” in talking to the market, I decided to offer some thoughts in form of this blog/response, which clearly wasn't going to fit into 140 character responses on Twitter.
Realizing there's a temptation for me to look at the storage world through Hitachi-colored glasses, in the below I try to be objective, and offer some quick background for each of my gripes suggestions as to what look like clear omissions for Hitachi. Feel free, as Leo undoubtedly will, to engage/comment on areas you think I got wrong.
CONVERGED SERVER AND STORAGE
Hitachi Unified Compute Platform is a leading alternative in this market. Leveraging best of breed Hitachi technologies in both server and storage, we bring unique solutions across SAP, VMware, Microsoft and Oracle environments.
In fact, it’s arguable that our software integration is well ahead of some of our contemporaries and our partners like VMware have been noticing, as shown in this cool blog post.
It seems our competition is realizing our growing presence in this space, as VCE (and EMC) regularly use IDC data in their presentations that suggests we are 3rd in the market and way ahead of Dell and IBM for "integrated" (IDC's version of converged) infrastructure systems.
BUSINESS FLASH / HYBRID STORAGE
When a market-watcher or industry analyst decides to separate, as Leo does, flash, hybrid and enterprise storage systems into unique categories, things get awkward quickly. He's not alone in wrestling with this, as many of the established analysts are clearly struggling with it as well.
Leo has HDS represented in Enterprise Storage Systems (which makes sense), but not in Business Flash / Hybrid Storage (which I don't think makes sense.)
It's a quandary, though. Many enterprise systems are hybrids. Many are bought as All Flash. Where do you draw the line? Which customer requirements are specifically changed when you move from an all flash array (AFA) to an enterprise storage system? Doesn't the fundamental requirement stay the same?
Irrespective of the debate on how different the solution categories are, I’d certainly argue that our All Flash offerings, for instance, of our Hitachi Unified Storage VM all flash configuration competes and wins versus the only-flash crowd on a regular basis.
While the market is split on how/if to separate these categories, other market watchers have included us in comparisons of such solutions, including DCIG, which ranks our products in both their hybrid and flash comparisons.
Clearly, Hitachi has much more to offer than than just storage software, but that is also true of many of the others listed in that section of the analysis.
However, I wanted to point out that with Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) for Virtual Machines we have an actively marketed software-only version of our object storage platform that can run within a virtual machine. This solution is has a larger presence and a strong competitive position to many of the other vendors listed in that area.
For more on our presence in this space, I defer to Jeff Lundberg who has already covered some of the recent industry accolades the broader HCP platform has seen from Gartner and others in this blog post.
SMB / ENTERPRISE CLOUD STORAGE
Building off our HCP platform just discussed, HDS offers Hitachi Content Platform Anywhere (HCP Anywhere) a clear fit for the category of Enterprise Cloud Storage, given the others represented in the analysis.
For enterprises looking to keep critical information in house with centralized content control, while still enabling broad content mobility, it’s a terrific fit.
STORAGE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES and MANAGED STORAGE SERVICES
Oddly, HDS was forgotten in both services categories though we offer robust storage professional services and have a quickly expanding managed services business. In fact, the rapid growth of customer interest in moving to OPEX consumption models is showing up as a big jump in HDS sales activity in this space. Customers appreciate the HDS prioritization of business relationships and our willingness to make solutions work for both our business model and the customers' cost and business objectives. Learn more about our Managed Storage Services offerings here, and check out this great case study on how we helped BMW achieve its goals.
SOLID STATE MEMORY FOUNDRIES
I quickly, and somewhat misleadingly, pointed out that Hitachi is not properly represented in the Solid Stated Memory Foundries category to Leo via Twitter. To expand a bit, Hitachi does not actually manufacture NAND memory. We do, however, work as a significant customer of the NAND foundries to design our patented Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage devices, which combine the NAND with advanced multicore processors and specialized intelligence to get the most out of flash storage in enterprise deployments.
So I thank my friend Leo for the chance to comment on his work and offer my thoughts of where Hitachi Data Systems should have been listed and why.
Though, I wonder if he now regrets telling me that Hitachi should be louder in our marketing approach.
The ball's in your court, Leo.