Hubert Yoshida VP and CTO, HDS, foresees a definite influence of the evolving tech landscape on CIOs and channel partners.
Big data's perceived to be the next big thing by most vendors but it is far from mainstream adoption in Indian organizations. Do you have a strategy to stay ahead?
Yoshida: When people talk about big data they often jump to analytics. But one needs to first build the infrastructure to support that volume, velocity and variety of data. HDS builds this infrastructure, a lot of it around virtualization which is executed dynamically. Infrastructure also means converged solutions as provisioning needs to be done quickly. Our strategy remains infrastructure, content, and then the information bit.
We believe that we have an edge as a part of Hitachi Limited. Verticals determine the information required. Hitachi is in transportation, construction, power and healthcare to name a few. From their standpoint and vertical focus, they have developed programs and applications to extract information. They are doing big data analytics, and we are building the infrastructure foundation.
Big data today is mostly built around Hadoop, analytics, data warehouse, datamarts etc. We are implementing applications based on SAP HANA. We also support Hadoop.
CW: According to Gartner the market leader, EMC, has a market share nearly four times that of HDS (at number five) in 2Q12. How would you bridge that massive gap?
Yoshida: EMC does not have servers. We provide converged solutions with common management and the customers see the great value in this strategy. We have always believed in the concept of one management platform for all servers that are managed from one stack. We offer an easy single pane of management to the user now through vCentre. Those are key advantages over the current Vblock and VCE type solutions which need separate management for each element of the stack.
'File and content' is big plus as no vendor has that capability. We have object-based storage and our content store is unique too. When you compare it with Centera, they might have the first mover advantage but it is not a content-based store. Our 'Open Standards' approach supports more vendors. Organizations looking for more efficiencies, and hence see the value in our enterprise story.
In the last quarter (3Q12), we were among select few vendors that grew, which reconfirms the market acceptance of our strategy around virtualization and file and content.
CW: HP (VirtualSystems), IBM (Puresystems), Dell (vstart) battle in the consolidated architecture or converged infrastructure space. Isn't HDS' Unified Compute Platform (UCP) a late entrant?
Yoshida: We will definitely dent the market mainly, because of unified management. The others are like proprietary management. HDS server in this environment is the only x86 which does LPARs. The blades have PCIE slots to plug in flash cache. Server plus integrated management gives us a competitive advantage.
CW: Vendor lock-in is a given for converged infrastructure. What route will CIOs embrace in future--'best of breed' solutions or 'one throat to choke' vendor?
Yoshida: Demands of technologies like big data mean that the organizations cannot afford to micro manage multiple vendors. Hence, they will be comfortable with 'one throat to choke' or maybe a dual vendor strategy. The vendors providing a whole stack of servers, storage and file management systems will be the preferred choice. We are in good position to be that vendor.
CW: Has the role of an enterprise systems integrator changed with the advent of unified computing, cloud and big data?
Yoshida: Yes. There has been phenomenal adoption of our approach and technologies by systems integrators in India. Some SIs are looking for alternatives. For large projects, partners reduce their cash burn through our efficient technologies which adds significant business value to customers and themselves. Many SIs conduct outsourcing/out-tasking activities. We have an efficient model like managed storage solutions where partners can provide private cloud infrastructure on a consumption-based business model. SIs will convert to service providers.
The tier-2 and tier-3 partners will have a bigger portfolio like file content systems and UCP along with Hitachi services, compared to only storage before. With Hitachi cloud program, the resellers are becoming cloud service providers as they leverage our cloud delivery to service the SMB segment and become more profitable.
CW: Dell's embellishing its enterprise portfolio through the acquisitions of Sonicwall, Quest and Force 10. Are you aggressive about mergers and acquisitions too?
Yoshida: Not much. The problem with acquiring a tech company is different from, lets say, acquiring a bank. Assets are available in the bank, but for a tech acquisition, the asset is the mindset. You need to retain the intellect.
We worked with BlueArc for five years with sales and product roadmap. At the right time we acquired the company without losing any key technology people. We don't believe in just acquiring technology to fill gaps. It has to be integrated across our 'one platform for all data' vision, and everything needs to be integrated into management.
CW: Will mergers and acquisitions spill over to storage industry too?
Yoshida: It was the dynamic provisioning companies that were being acquired earlier. But more flash vendors are being acquired this year. There will be M&As, but we prefer to be more organic to stay at the peak of our core competence. We are the only, true R&D company left in the storage industry. That's why we can build flash controllers from scratch. There will be some consolidation in the storage market.
CW: HDS recently launched industry's first unified storage product that provides enterprise-class virtualization for all data types. What is the roadmap for storage virtualization?
Yoshida: We now have the opportunity to virtualize across boxes, not just vertical virtualization, but horizontal virtualization too. We can have LUN (logical unit number) that can spread across multiple systems through dynamic provisioning in a vertical way. But we can do it horizontally. We will take virtualization to another dimension.
CW: Do you think that only handful of the big, multi-technology companies will be left in five years?
Yoshida: It maybe the other way round. Some big companies will not be around. There would be more start ups. This is a very technology intensive industry. Technology innovation and its reliability has been a high point for us. Analysts and competitors appreciate our technology, eventhough they may criticize our marketing at times.
For partners, customers and employees, we are an easy company to work with.