Hitachi shift in focus to Internet of Things likely to be major plus for channel

Hitachi Data Systems’ former channels head in Canada, who has moved over to Vantara, and a top Canadian partner share their views on what the restructuring and Internet of Things re-emphasis will mean for the channel.

Peter Kriparos, Head, Strategic Alliances, at Hitachi Vantara in Canada

LAS VEGAS – At Hitachi’s inaugural NEXT customer event here this week, the big news was the folding of three Hitachi companies into a new one, Hitachi Vantara, which will focus on digital transformation – specifically Internet of Things-focused solutions. The doubling down on the Internet of Things, which goes beyond the corporate restructuring and includes a much fuller leveraging of the Lumada platform, was another key news item. For Hitachi’s channel partners, all this has implications, and the first reaction is a very positive one.

The integration of Hitachi Data Services, Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho into Hitachi Vantara is expected to create new synergies, blending the former companies’ different strengths in Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things together. The integration is expected to work the same way on the channel side, where the three companies had separate operations.

“All three companies had their own separate channel structures and channel programs,” said Peter Kriparos, Head, Strategic Alliances, at Hitachi Vantara in Canada. “Everything was pretty much done separately. Hitachi has many, many subsidiary companies, so it wasn’t unusual to have three companies like this run their businesses separately, even though they were very close to each other in terms of what they did.”

Kriparos said that just as the teams from the old companies are now actively collaborating in the new one – something that has been going on for the last six months – the different channel programs are now being integrated to make things more efficient.

“The plan is to have all of the channel integration done by the next fiscal year, at the end of March,” he said.

Kriparos said that even among HDS partners who like himself are from the traditional storage and data centre side of the business, there is palpable excitement at the shift in strategy.

“We see the enormous channel opportunities with the shift in emphasis to the Internet of Things,” he indicated. “Even though this was something that was done before, there is much greater emphasis now on differentiating and articulating our value proposition.”

Kriparos said that the Internet of Things focus will result in a sharper differentiation of roles between partners and classifications of partners.

“We expect to have very clearly defined and different roles for systems integrators and VARs, and we expect it to be a very collaborative process,” he said. “The Internet of Things isn’t something where a single vendor tends to have all the answers  — or where a single partner does either.”

Jody Burton, CEO of Stoneworks Technologies

Jody Burton, CEO of Ottawa-based Stoneworks Technologies, sees great potential in the new focus. Stoneworks, founded in 2001, had been a traditional enterprise storage partner, but made a strategic shift on their own earlier to develop a deep focus on the Internet of Things.

“We made a reorientation towards the Internet of Things four to five years ago,” he said. “Our business now is a combination of both traditional enterprise storage and IoT.”

Burton said that the shift had involved a fair amount of restructuring, and some pain, but that this now put them in a position to realize significant benefits.

“When we started transitioning our business, we had to get people to change their game,” he said.

Stoneworks has already been using tools from the non-HDS companies, including the Lumada platform, which they have been using for services. Burton indicated that the full integration will make articulating their value proposition easier, however.

“HDS was never known as a marketing machine, but bringing this all together is music to our ears,” Burton said. “Coming together under one umbrella adds a lot of power.”