Hitachi looks to align storage with business needs

Peter Kriparos, channel chief for Hitachi Data Systems Canada

Peter Kriparos, channel chief for Hitachi Data Systems Canada

Hitachi Data Systems is touting its newest storage software and hardware as a way to get to “business-defined IT,” more closely matching IT capabilities with business users needs.

Dubbed the Continuous Cloud Infrastructure, Hitachi introduced a new operating system for virtualized storage, Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) and the first piece of hardware designed for the new software, the Virtual Storage Platform G1000. Behind that, the company updated its Hitachi Command Suite software to manage storage environments.

The company announced the new products at SkyService’s private aviation hangar on the grounds of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, one of two North American stops – the other at its Santa Clara, Cal. Headquarters – on a seven-city “follow the sun” launch tour.

The launch started with a “skit” featuring Michael Cremen, executive vice president of global sales at HDS taking “the business” point of view, with Miklos Sandorfi, vice president of solutions and cloud at HDS, countering with “the IT” point of view on the same issues. While even the participants admitted it was a bit contrived, it served to reinforce the increasingly true perspective that IT and business leaders are at loggerheads, and suggested that both sides needed to get on the same page.

“If IT can’t step up to support my needs, I need to go outside the business” to get needs met, Cremen said, trumpeting the “line of business” view of the cloud computing opportunity.

“Cloud is just a buzzword right now. Let’s focus on the business problems we have now, and how to solve them,” retorted Sandorfi. “Our job is to make the business successful. We shouldn’t be working against each other.”

While the G1000 is the bigger product, the key element here is SVOS, the company’s new virtual storage OS, which Sandorfi touted as being able to incorporate any storage in an environment and pull it together into an automated private cloud of storage, one which can easily shift data not just from physical device to physical device, but from data centre to data centre.

“SVOS is exciting because it takes what was proven in the data centre and provides that infrastructure to power the business,” Sandorfi said. “This really allows IT to be far more agile, far more effective, far more efficient, and for more business-focused.”

Shawn Roesmarin, executive director of architecture and professional services ant VMware Canada, put a sharper point on the issues facing IT as lines of business not only have more demands, but more ways to meet those demands outside the official purview of IT.

“For the first time ever, the questions isn’t ‘Can I do this?,’ it’s ‘I have to find a way to do this, because if I don’t, I put the business at risk,’” he said.

Marcel Escorcio, regional vice president and general manager of HDS Canada, said he sees with the G1000 and VSOS across small, medium, and large enterprise markets in Canada. Still, he said, the sweet spot will be in midmarket and enterprise, and the new focus on broader virtualization will put HDS, and its partners, into a new type of conversation.

“Business demands are changing – it’s all about how you provide that agility, that automation,” Escorcio said. “We used to look at storage economics. Now it’s IT economics. It brings in cloud and other infrastructure across the board.”

Peter Kriparos, manager of strategic alliances and channel partners for HDS Canada, said he saw an opportunity for all of Hitachi’s partners with the new direction, but that the ones who will be most successful are the ones who are truly invested in their storage practices. The new approach should allow partners to get out of talking about acquiring storage, and into some much more compelling discussions about cloud strategy, capex vs. opex, and investment protection.

“It’s no longer about product end of life and extension. Because we’re going into another generation of our storage virtualization strategy, it’s not a platform that’s disruptive to the customer. It’s an enhancement that takes everything we’ve done in the data centre, and takes it outside of the data centre. That is, to me, the most comforting part to communicate to a customer.”

The company has already trained top partners under NDA, Kriparos said, and certifications around the new products are being finalized. The G1000 and other products are available now for order in the company’s Partner Quote Manager online tool.

Cremen said that over the last four years, the company’s growth has come “almost entirely from our indirect business.”

In Canada, HDS continues a strategy of focusing more on its top partners, Kriparos confirmed, opening up more service and support opportunities, including delivering services in the vendor’s name.