At the beginning of the year I wrote a post over at the Architecting IT Blog talking about what we can expect for storage in 2015. This coming year I believe we need to see more on the management of data and less of a focus on storage hardware per-se. To a certain extent, storage hardware is done. We have predictable reliable technology at a fairly reasonable price. Most new storage solutions are focused on improving operational and cost efficiency but don’t manage the data (or content) other than to deliver on overall system performance or QoS (quality of service) based on a particular LUN or volume. (note as a quick aside, there are solutions in object storage that are new and innovative and perhaps this is one area where storage still has a way to go).
Part of our future challenge with data will be the diversification of information sources. Originally in the 1980’s, almost all data was in structured format in databases (hierarchical and relational). However over the last 10 years unstructured data has seen the biggest growth and we’re also seeing the creation of more machine data (e.g. sensors, satellites etc). EMC’s 2012 Digital Universe study estimated machine data would grow from 11% in 2005 to 40% in 2020. The study estimated that only 1% of created data is actually analysed.
About 18 months ago I wrote a post talking about the Evolution of Hitachi Data Systems. For what was once purely a big box enterprise player, at the time the company had definitely evolved and diversified, while taking more advantage of the parent Hitachi company. Since then, we have seen this transformation continuing in a number of ways:
- Jack Domme, HDS CEO moves to Executive Officer within Hitachi and Chief Executive for the Americas, indicating how important HDS is to Hitachi’s overall strategy. (press release). This appointment is part of a wider re-structuring in Hitachi’s business.
- Focus on Social Innovation. At last June’s Influencer Summit, HDS outlined changes in the business to bring all of the benefits of Hitachi together, with global solutions based on R&D labs in Japan, India, UK, US, Germany and Brazil. The scope of social innovation covers areas such as transportation, healthcare and telecoms.
- Acquisitions. HDS has announced the recent acquisition of Pentaho (big data integration and analytics company) and that of oXya, a SAP services provider.
- Partnerships – one good example being the recent announcement of collaboration between HDS and Hortonworks.
So what does this tell us about the company? As I said at the top of this article, traditional storage is done, pretty much. Hitachi has mature products covering block & file-based data (see the recent SPC-1 benchmarks as an example) and I’m sure these will continue to evolve. Acquisitions point to the continual widening of the company’s portfolio while gaining depth from the interaction with a wider Hitachi Ltd. HDS is now focusing on data (the original “data” in the company name) rather than purely on storage.
How does HDS’s position compare to the other big vendors out there? EMC seems to be struggling with Pivotal, which showed an annual growth of only 26.8% in FY2014 compared to 2013. 70% of this revenue came from services. EMC are now planning to open source a large portion of the Pivotal core technology. HP have focused on a number of technologies (including the Autonomy acquisition) to evolve their Haven platform. To be fair, some of the work from this seems quite interesting, although the usage model may be challenging for some customers. IBM’s Big Data portfolio is extensive, with high-profile solutions such as Watson and niche products around real-time intelligence and data mining.
So in summary we see HDS becoming a bigger and more engaging company, with a definite focus on content and data management. Watch out for announcements this year as I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of news about acquisitions or new products.