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A Converged Platform Provides the Foundation for Social Innovation and the Internet of Things

Q&A with Hu Yoshida, Vice President and CTO, Hitachi Data Systems

by Hu Yoshida | insiderPROFILES, Volume 6, Issue 2

April 1, 2015

Hitachi Expert Insight

Hu Yoshida, Vice President and CTO, Hitachi Data Systems, discusses some of the key trends – such as Internet of Things (IoT) that are influencing how organizations are rethinking how they architect their storage systems. In this detailed Q&A, Yoshida touches on the ramifications of social innovation and how converged platforms help drive innovation.

 

 

     
  

Hitachi Data Systems Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Hu Yoshida leads the company’s effort to help customers address data lifecycle requirements and resolve compliance, governance, and operational risk issues. His popular blog (http://blogs.hds.com/hu/) has been ranked by Network World as one of the 10 most influential in the storage industry, and in 2013 Information Week named him one of the 10 most impactful technology leaders.
 
insiderPROFILES recently spoke with Yoshida about the challenges facing customers today in architecting storage solutions for an ever-increasing volume of data, and ways Hitachi Data Systems can help meet those challenges

   
     

Q: What key trends are influencing how organizations rethink their storage requirements and how they architect their storage systems?

We are moving very rapidly into the Internet of Things (IoT) where everything is being connected, which is bringing about an avalanche of information. It is a major trend as well as a major concern, because as we move into this world, there are certainly new challenges and vulnerabilities, among them cybersecurity threats. So the wealth of opportunity brought about by IoT is tempered by this wider landscape of threats, which carry with them greater possibility for disaster. Whereas an earlier threat may have resulted in disruption, today that could entail an actual physical disaster brought about by hacking. Social, mobile, analytics, and cloud are also converging to bring about an explosion of data, and organizations need to be ready with a new type of storage system that can scale to support this new world.
 
At the same time, the world is moving too fast for CIOs to take weeks, days, or even hours to scope the network together with the server, storage, and software. The agility that is needed to respond to this influx of information requires pre-certified, converged solutions that can plug into the network and go, leaving the focus from the CIO perspective on outcomes rather than infrastructure. A key strategy at Hitachi Data Systems is to meet this demand for agility through our unified converged platform to help drive social innovation, which can only begin when you strip away the infrastructure concerns.

Q: What do you mean by social innovation?

Throughout time, social infrastructure such as buildings, roads, bridges, and cities has been important for the advancement of civilization. For our parent company, Hitachi Limited, helping to build innovation in social infrastructures — such as power systems, medical diagnostic tools, and high-speed railway systems — is a core part of the business. Hitachi Social Innovation integrates big data, analytics, and industry know-how for a healthier, safer, smarter society. A common misconception is that this social innovation is built on the back of information technology (IT), which indeed is a foundational building block; but from social infrastructure springs operational technology (OT), the technology that integrates and automates control systems. Together, IT and OT are the wellspring for social innovation. This is what Hitachi Data Systems is doing in terms of the unified converged platform. We can install upon this converged platform innovative applications such as SAP HANA, or stream in data from connected devices, to create solutions that are not just transactional, but that affect our lives and societal well-being. This is what I mean by social infrastructure, social innovation, and using the HDS Unified Compute Platform (UCP) in conjunction with applications such as SAP HANA, which by capturing and analyzing data in real time will not only provide more agile business outcomes but also be the key to protecting against cybersecurity threats.

Q: Can you share examples of companies leveraging converged platforms to drive innovation?

oXya, an expert in managing customer SAP deployments, has deployed three UCP solutions for net-new SAP customers after seeing how the aforementioned technology can manage a dynamic and ever-changing IT environment and meet hefty service-level agreements (SLAs). oXya reported that its customers are more than pleased with saving a month or more of work that is usually required for provisioning space for the upgrade, which traditionally has meant coordinating among various stakeholders to size, provision, and create the space. One of its customers, a retailer, bases its IT infrastructure on Hitachi UCP for the SAP HANA platform to offer managers previously unavailable real-time information to make inventory decisions leading to increased sales and profits. One electronics and appliance distributor that experienced a heavy burden on its analytics system due to rapid growth leveraged the same platform to reduce the time required for downloading data to report on the movement of goods to 30 minutes, down from 3 hours. It also produced reports 100 times faster. With these significant improvements, the speed of delivery based on the improved demand forecast model increased 35%.
 
These examples help to illustrate that agility in today’s fast-moving economy is paramount. Everything is changing so quickly, and solutions that bring operational technology together with underlying systems are required to deliver this unprecedented level of flexibility. Historically, people have thought of SAP installations as being time-consuming and expensive. However, oXya customers know firsthand that is not the case. The fact that oXya solutions are deployed agnostically to meet customer requirements goes to show that SAP implementations do not have to be difficult.

We are just beginning to come to terms with the sheer volume of information that is coming down the pike that will need to be analyzed and processed.

Q: What sets Hitachi offerings apart in offering customers this flexibility?

True convergence requires an orchestration layer so that the different components are all working together, so application programming interfaces and open-source software is the key. What is unique about Hitachi Data Systems’ offering is an orchestration layer designed from the inside out and interfaced into VMware through VCenter, so an administrator never has to link and launch into the element managers. This, and an x86 platform that supports logical partitioning (LPAR) and multi-blade symmetrical multiprocessor (SMP) capability, are unique among converged systems vendors. With this capability, an organization can run multiple SAP applications in the same processor, where partitioning allows for running VMware in one partition, Hyper-V in another, and bare metal in yet another. Multi-blade SMP capability enables the scaling of memory to support SAP HANA requirements. These unique capabilities provide unparalleled flexibility for running multiple virtual instances on the same physical server and guarantee high quality of service and high performance for the various users of the system.
 
In an environment with rapid change, applications continuously expand and contract, and new applications need to be added quickly. A unified converged platform must allow for this without disruption. The time that organizations spend provisioning for the extra space can instead be used looking for new ways to innovate, as they can be up and running in a fraction of the time they’re accustomed to when firing up a new system. Organizations also need a solution to be scalable; the influx of data and the amount of information that a business is using to make informed decisions is only going to rise. Unlike other converged solutions that are sold and configured in shirt sizes, the dynamic expansion and scalability of the Hitachi Data Systems converged platform is another key advantage.
 
We are just beginning to come to terms with the sheer volume of information that is coming down the pike that will need to be analyzed and processed. This is going to draw some very well-deserved attention and focus in the coming months and years, and diverting this attention instead to configuring an infrastructure is a losing proposition. Converged solutions are concerned with outcomes, not infrastructure, providing the agility that organizations need in their quest to become innovative leaders.

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Hitachi Expert Insight
Hu Yoshida

Vice President and CTO
Hitachi Data Systems



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