Hitachi Vantara expands cloud services with Smart Data Center enhancements

The upgrades to Smart Data Center follow up a new solution for modern policing, Hitachi Digital Evidence Management.

SAN DIEGO – At their NEXT customer event here, Hitachi Vantara has expanded their as-a-service offerings with a series of announcements. They have  enhanced their Smart Data Center solution that uses AI and real-time analytics to optimize all aspects of IT operations across data centres.  They also announced the addition of one-click Kubernetes capabilities to the Hitachi Enterprise Cloud Container Platform. These follow up a third announcement which Hitachi made several days before the event, the launch of a new solution, Hitachi Digital Evidence Management [HDEM], which addresses the challenges of digital evidence management in modern policing.

“Traditionally the services we offered at the old Hitachi Data Services organization were around implementation,” said Gary Breder, Hitachi Vantara’s Director of Product Marketing, Cloud Solutions and Services. “That was our legacy. At Hitachi Vantara, we have been moving to service-based solutions like infrastructure-as-a-service and storage-as-a-service.”

The new service, Hitachi Digital Evidence Management, is an application for police and law enforcement.

“HDEM is not about helping them gather more data, but about helping them use the digital information that they already have,” Breder said. “Investigators today have a huge assortment of digital evidence from more and more sources, which needs to be assessed. They increasingly find it difficult to bring in relevant information for specific situations, because this is traditionally done through a manual process and it takes days just to assemble it.”

HDEM permits the collection of data from any digital source, so it can be placed in context for investigation or prosecution. This includes body-worn and car video cameras, mobile phones, documents, closed-circuit television and other digital information sources.

“It expedites the manual process, identifying and associating evidence with a particular case, and securing, analyzing, and redacting data – doing things like redacting license plates and fuzzing faces of people who are not involved – according to local requirements,” Breder said. “Legal authorities want technology to help them, but they don’t actually want a technologist on their squad. This automates processes for them, and makes them much more efficient, but it doesn’t actually impinge on investigations.”

Hitachi Vantara terms this a GARD [General Availability, Restricted Distribution] release, and Breder said it’s the kind of application where channel partners play a key role.

“The buyer for this isn’t going to be IT people,” he said. “It’s the Chief of Police. This is a sales environment made for the channel partner who has developed that relationship and who has that trust. It’s also very localized because different countries have different laws around how evidence is handled – much as with tax programs, which require local ‘last mile’ changes. We started with the common law countries beyond the U.S. – Canada, the U.K., Australia, India – and are now expanding into a number of different countries, and we are looking for partners that can help us engage with their police departments.”

The Smart Data Center announcement made at NEXT enhances an existing solution, a complete end-to-end subscription service designed to optimize global data center service health, capacity management, performance management and cooling with the use of automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“Smart Data Center manages data centre operations, using analytics and automation to optimize very complex data centre environments,” Breder said. “The data centre that was complex ten years ago now looks simple. The issues now are frequently how to optimize performance across multiple data centres, and involve identifying service-level risks that could leave a gap.”

A key enhancement is the addition of an entirely net new AI-driven cooling capability that comes through a partnership with Vigilent, an OT vendor which makes dynamic cooling management systems. The Vigilent technology uses machine learning, IoT temperature sensors, and closed-loop control to enable Smart Data Center to proactively monitor and analyze data center cooling, self-correct temperature and airflow issues, and provide improved operational control. Hitachi Vantara said it translates into up to 38 per cent average annual savings.

“Cooling optimization was not something that Smart Data Center did at all before,” Breder said. “However, the vision of Smart Data Center was always to do everything in the data centre. That includes other things like physical access, which it does not do today, but which is on the road map.”

A second enhancement is more heuristic SAN optimization, which enables more efficient and cost-effective use of storage assets, and which identifies when hot and cold spots are developing within Hitachi storage.

“This is designed to remove performance bottlenecks, and avoid peaks which degrade performance,” Breder said.

The third major improvement is new automated provisioning of heterogeneous storage assets.

“You can now put the provisioning on autopilot to automatically provision more, with the system telling you what it did,” Breder said. “The premise here is that it is low risk if you have a false positive. If you overprovision when you didn’t really need to, it’s little harm done. On the other hand, if there is a real problem, and nothing is done it’s a catastrophe.”

Breder said that demand is not there to completely automate the process.

“There is still reluctance about the concept of a completely autonomous data centre making RPO and RTO decisions,” he said. “Customers still want people making these big decisions.”

Smart Data Centre has always been a good offering for partners, and the enhancements add additional value.

“Because this is a pre-designed and pre-engineered service, it’s something that a partner can sell as a prepacked unit,” said Paul Lewis, global vice president of industry and enterprise architecture at Hitachi Vantara. “It also has the advantage of going beyond product, and looking at the data centre as a whole.”

The enhanced Smart Data Center is generally available now, as a fully managed, on- or off-premises solution offering.