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Hitachi Geek Day Summary

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Hitachi Geek Day has been and gone and I’m back home in the UK recovering from quick turnaround jetlag.  Originally this event was known as HDS Bloggers Day and in actual fact was a day and a half long.  Somewhere along the line the Geek monika was adopted and has been retained for the page summary on the Hitachi website.  You can find a link here.

Background

So what was this event all about?  Well, Hitachi are looking to raise their image using social media in a way already pioneered by Hewlett Packard and the attendees of the Gestalt IT events.  This Geek Day (as I shall refer to it from now on) is the starting process on this journey and was in some ways a “beta” test of how to do future events (hence the 0.9 designation).

Initially I was skeptical as to what content Hitachi would choose to present.  They are well known for their Enterprise and Modular storage arrays and I’m more than familiar with these, having designed, implemented and managed many implementations in the past.  In fact, I’ve previously assisted Hitachi in software feature development and have reverse engineered the HiCommand products to suit my own requirements.

Despite their name, Hitachi Data Systems are no longer purely a storage hardware company.  They also sell software that isn’t tied directly to the hardware products and have a server and Unified Computing strategy (although you’d be hard pressed to find details on the corporate website; use this link).

In view of these points, the Geek Day was an opportunity for Hitachi to dispel some of the old myths of good hardware and poor software by presenting a broader portfolio of offerings and the strategy behind them.

The Agenda & Speakers

With an event lasting only 1.5 days, the agenda is always going to be tight and sure enough, a lot was crammed into the time available.  The full agenda is available at the Geek Site, but for me the highlights were around the virtualisation and cloud discussions.  Mike Heffernan presented on virtualisation, explaining how Hitachi have gone back to basics to understand the virtualisation challenge from the ground up.  Mike Sandorfi presented on cloud and Unified Computing, showing screenshots of the UCP Management software.  For all the presentations over the two days, I have materials and video that will be uploaded over the coming days as I expand on the discussions in future posts.

The Lab Tour

The first afternoon finished with a tour of the Hitachi lab facilities, including a presentation in a private viewing cinema.  Unfortunately the lab personnel don’t allow any pictures to be taken in the data centre area itself, so I’ve no obligatory pictures of conversations being had in front of rows of Hitachi storage arrays.  What I can say is that the lab contained a vast number of Hitachi storage arrays, plus some from other vendors, however we didn’t see the fabled next generation USP V (which I’m sure was there somewhere).  Perhaps the USP-TNG (or whatever it will be called) was hiding in the clothes of an old 9980.

The highlight of the lab tour was the LOC (Lab Operations Control), where a small number of operators were creating and executing hundreds of certification test cases, all without needing to plug or unplug a single cable.  This process claimed to have reduced Hitachi’s costs on certifications to a fraction they cost a few years ago.

Opinion

Overall, my view is that the event went very well.  There were a few logistics hiccups (Bas Raayman missed his first flight and others had minor issues with travelling), but the days itself were well managed and kept efficiently to time.  Hitachi had brought out the marketing “big guns” as demonstrated by the job titles on business cards, showing their investment in people’s time. The content of the sessions was good, although I’d liked to have seen more on the UCP technology.  I have a feeling however that more will be revealed on that over the coming months and there’s a clear intention from Hitachi to continue discussions further after this event.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll put up details from the presentations, plus video content (once uploaded, which is never a quick process).  Finally, thanks to the organisers (Carli Ghelfi and the twin MCs of Pete Gerr and Michael Hay and all the others behind the scenes) for making the event a reality.  I’m looking forward to the next one!

Disclosure: For this event, Hitachi paid for flights, hotel costs and most meals.  I also received a free backpack, drinks holder and lovely t-shirt (that can’t be worn in the real world).  Hitachi did not cover loss of earnings during this period, which exceeded the cost of paying travelling expenses.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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