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HDS and its awfully good VMware integration

Cloud a bit cloudy though

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I'm here sitting at the second Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) blogger's day with a bunch of other bloggers to hear about the company's vision and strategy.

My company was an HDS partner in the past and I remember very well its Closed - the capitalised C isn't a typo - point of view about storage and the rest of the world. But now, I need to admit that the HDS vision is changing very fast.

The morning started very early for me, especially after the last night's #storagebeers in Windsor, but the agenda was packed full of speakers and content, and all the bloggers were eager to start. HDS's headquartets in Sefton Park is awesome; now I understand why they are so happy with their European HQ.

The first presentation was the classical "we-are-doing-very-well" vendor presentation. I took away only two important points: HDS's last quarter was very good with more or less $1bn revenue and growth in the whole range of products and especially in EMEA, contrary to other large vendors; strange things happen in the international markets. This included the old AMS line too. It still sounds incredible to me.

The second good news was that Hitachi production will not suffer too much because of the recent Japanese earthquake as most of their factories were unaffected.

The whole morning was spent showing how much HDS loves VMware and vice versa - first time I'm hearing this - and how the VSP integrates perfectly with the new VAAI API. The most convincing statement is that they are doing a good job because they have already done it for mainframes. Iindeed, CPU offload of storage operations has already been there in the mainframe world for decades. But I'll wait for this afternoon before I say "WOW!" and then only after a complete demo, on AMS too, which has nothing to do with mainframes. too.

The HDS presenters said nothing about Xen or Hyper-V at the moment; they are investing very much in a VMware-only strategy, but I don't know if it is a good thing in the long term. Many ISPs are using Xen and Microsoft is gaining some traction in medium enterprises.

The key message was finished with encouragement to use all the software stack implemented in the VSP, such as the now free Dynamic Provisioning and Dynamic Tiering, to achieve the full benefit of HDS' storage virtualisation layer.

Attending bloggers asked lots of good questions and the discussion immediately became heated. There was a lot of valuable information here, too much for this brief post.

Conservative cloud

Miki Sandorfi, chief strategist, File, Content and Cloud, presented the HDS strategy for the cloud, which was a little bit conservative but less invasive than other vendors: HDS will not work directly with end users as a service provider but it will help customers and partners deliver the infrastructures for clouds.

Then a VAAI demo on VSP followed. If you want to scale up with VMware you definitely need it. And more good news from HDS is that VAAI support is free for all their arrays where "all arrays" includes the old USP-V as well. It is always a good thing when a vendor thinks about all of its customers, and not only prospects.

Some of the presentations on cloud software were unimpressive, a lot of slides to show us some hot air: in general containing more strategy and vision than real, implementable products.

One of the most notable things I saw in the software space is HCR (Hitachi Clinical Repository), a solution intended to help manage and archive medical data. In my opinion, this is a must-see product if you deal with clinical data.

What impressed me positively is the new HDS management and monitoring suite, Hitachi Command Suite 7. It's a big step forward for HDS in this space. Now that HDS is ranked fifth in storage software vendors with 47 per cent growth in the last quarter, I'm sure some of the revenues come from this product. When compared to similar products from other vendors it is still a bit complex but I have no doubts that HDS customers will love it. It's pretty clear HDS understood the way to go to make customers happier.

I will update the post tomorrow with impressions from day two.

*Disclaimer: HDS invited me at this event and paid for travel and accommodation but I'm not under any obligation to write any material about this event. ®

Enrico Signoretti is the CEO of Cinetica, a small consultancy firm in Italy, which offers services to medium/large companies in finance, manufacturing, and outsourcing). The company has partnerships with Oracle, Dell, VMware, Compellent and NetApp.

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