When you think of Hitachi...

rolling-ideasWhen you think of Hitachi, what’s the first word that pops into your head? Was your word "manufacturing "? Me too. When you think of HDS, what’s your first word? Was it “storage”? Well maybe we need to think again.


At the Hitachi connect conference in Las Vegas, the company outlined a new vision for how technology can be used to improve society, which they call “social innovation.” This should be the magic words to remember going forward. At the same time, The hard boundary between Hitachi and HDS is becoming quite porous, but in a good way. The organizations are learning to cross-pollinate, and together build new solutions leveraging the expertise of each.

The real goal comes not from Hitachi’s manufacturing or HDS’s IT prowess, but from the combination of these to build practical solutions to challenging problems stemming from macro trends in the world today. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of these solutions are oriented around big data and analytics capabilities. If you want to build a smarter world, you have to start with what makes it smarter.

HDS has the infrastructure offerings that can underlay these big data environments, and a lot has already been written (some of it by ESG!) on how its VSP and UCP platforms are remarkably well suited to the task. We won’t attempt to capture that all again here, but I’m sure the company would be happy to share what we’ve already covered on the topics. Instead, I think it’s worth noting the pure software capabilities that are now coming into play. Hitachi and HDS are finding ways to manage the entire data lifecycle from capture through processing to understanding and acting on the insights gained. There have been big gains, particularly in IT operations analytics (with Sumo Logic) and in data preparation and integration (with Pentaho).

Even better are the areas where these all come together again around applied solutions, often in Internet of Things, or as Hitachi says the “Internet of Things That Matter.” Japanese companies are known for using vertical integration as a way to improve the manufacturing process, and here I think the new “one” Hitachi will show great advantage.

Video Transcript

Mark: So this week marks the start of a very busy show season and many of us will be in Vegas for lot over the next few weeks. This is the Hitachi Connect event. Not just HDS but Hitachi too and that really is perhaps what's most significant about this event. It brought together partners, a sales conference, the analysts, and a lot of conversation about this being Hitachi and its social innovation initiative rather than just HDS and a lot of storage sales. So we're going to hear from my colleagues, Nik Rouda, Terri McClure, on their thoughts, takeaways, insights from the conference.

Nik: One of the most interesting things here has been that Hitachi now has a multilayered message and it starts at the top with social innovation. Trying to use technology to better the world, make it a healthier, safer, more efficient place to live. Below that, that's backed up by industry specific solutions. Things like telematics for smarter automobiles, setting up trains to pay per mile of usage rather than paying for the infrastructure entirely up front, or looking at smart cities. How do we do crowd management, how do we pick out dangers as they move using video analytics.

Of course, below this is the traditional HDS Solutions that you're familiar with. Things like the VSP Platform, the UCP Platform, now joined with a Hyper Scale-Out Platform for big data. But one thing that was really clear is that big data and analytics is underlying most of these technologies and solutions. Hitachi and HDS have really realigned themselves to make the most of the environment by better understanding all the information that's available.

Terri: There is something like 60 Hitachi companies here this week and Hitachi owns everything from the sensor to the compute platforms to the analytics platforms to the storage that it lives on. Hitachi has an end to end solution that very few companies can talk about and the way they've tied it up into the social innovation strategy that Nik talked about is really, truly impressive. I think it's going to introduce some challenges for Hitachi as they try to tie this high level social innovation message down into the product level but it really changes the competitive landscape for HDS, as to what they can offer to customers from a solution standpoint, all the way down to the traditional IT messaging. So I'm really excited about Hitachi's future and what they can offer the users, should they continue to bring all the Hitachi's companies together and leverage the power of Hitachi as one.

Nik: So I mentioned before that the technologies are powering big data and analytics through a wide range of use cases. A couple of new partnerships are really coming into play here. One was the recent acquisition of Pentaho, where they're able to use that ability to do data integration, data preparation, transformation, and take all these new data sources and combine them and get them ready to do the analytics operations that will give you your insights. In fact, that's tying into their new analytics platform called Live Insight and Hitachi Live Insight will have a number of different flavors. One of the interesting ones is IT Operations Analytics which comes through another partnership, this time with Sumo Logic but they really want to challenge the market. To say, "We can better understand your IT infrastructure, manage it, and get better results" by applying, again, big data and analytics to that environment.

Terri: From a product standpoint, I'm really excited about the cloud story Hitachi can tell. When you start looking at the HCP Platform and the cloud consumption sales model that they have, they offer flexibility that very few companies can regarding how and where data is stored, managed, and controlled. And that gives them a very powerful message in light of some of the geopolitical factors, some of the jurisdictional factors, and some of the legal issues that are facing cloud storage today, regarding what country has jurisdiction over data depending on where it's stored and managed from. So I think Hitachi has a very powerful story to tell and it will be their challenge to tell it regarding their cloud solutions platform but it's powerful. I think people should listen.

Mark: So both Terri and Nik talked about the breadth of this conference and how much is going on with Hitachi, beyond just HDS or any of the other component companies of which we were aware before. Funny enough, early on during some of the general sessions, I was asked what does Hitachi stand for. I love words so I came up with harnessing its technology and creativity for humanity's improvement. Now, I don't know that they're going to take this as a new tagline but it's genuinely what they seem to be focused on. You sense if from the employees, from the senior management, from whom we heard but of course, it's a massive big vision. And it's interesting what we get subsumed underneath, just looking at storage, which I cover. So a huge announcements from the traditional HDS side of the business, probably the biggest ones they've ever had and yet, that's just a part of the message here. 

What's more interesting to me and everything you've heard from my colleagues is how much did you know about this, how much will we know about this? Hitachi is, obviously, a Japanese organization where it is, you prove things. You don't go and shout them. A lot of the world is Western where you shout about things and then prove them and there's obviously a middle path somewhere. So lots of great vision, there's lots of good manifestation of how that will happen but telling more of the world so that the company can grow and develop its success, is going to be an area that it needs to focus on if it is really to achieve what it wants.
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