Earlier this year I was invited to Hitachi NEXT in lovely San Diego.  As part of my trip, I took the time to learn a little more about some of the technology Hitachi has been working on and bringing to market either directly through Hitachi Ltd or Hitachi Vantara.  You may remember that Hitachi Vantara was formed from Hitachi Data Systems, the Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho.  I discussed the newly formed group on a podcast with Greg Knieriemen (before his move to NetApp) just over 12 months ago.

The Value of Data

Many people will think of Hitachi (Vantara) as a company that sells storage hardware and HCI solutions.  However, the company has been focused much more on the value derived from data – hence the Pentaho acquisition.  I was interested to understand some of the solutions that had been developed or were in the works.  From edge to core, the following solutions were discussed either in the main keynote or on the show floor:

IoT – LIDAR and video analytics.  There’s some fascinating work being done around mapping out movement of people and objects in time that can be used as the source of analytics.  I was particularly interested in the way LIDAR data can be deliberately anonymised and used for general people management in airports and other large areas.

Data/Analytics – Machine Model Management.  Hitachi is investing in developing the efficiency of ML/AI model generation.  Work being done in the labs is aimed at improving the process of preparing data, training and deploying machine learning models.  In particular this means ensuring that data pipelines are effectively delivered through the Pentaho platform.

Core Storage – UCP HC All-Flash with Optane.  This is a VMware vSAN solution with Hitachi hardware and Optane as the vSAN cache.  The vSAN backing store is based on standard NAND flash.  It’s interesting to see Hitachi put Optane here first, rather than in their shared storage solutions.

Infrastructure – FPGA acceleration and intelligent offload.  This is an area where I don’t believe we’ve had a lot of work done (please prove me wrong if not).  The technology is still in development but will enable the capability to offload some processing for Pentaho and traditional databases to FPGAs.  Rather than being custom designed, the FPGA’s will be software driven and easily programmable.

Infrastructure – Digital Twins.  The idea of a digital twin is to create a model of infrastructure (originally for requirements like smart cities) and use it to do predictive analysis.  This means being able to perform “what-if” analysis of failures or high volumes of network traffic.  This could be a potentially fascinating area as the technology moves to the data centre.  Complex infrastructure solutions could be modelled to help improve availability and uptime.

White Paper & Podcasts

You can find more about the Hitachi solutions in this free white paper on the main Architecting IT website.

The paper contains additional links to other resources with more detail on the technologies.  In addition, I recorded a series of podcasts, already published on Storage Unpacked that cover some of the products discussed.  You can find them here:

The Architect’s View

While infrastructure is important, as we move into a hybrid world the most valuable asset remains data and information.  I’m interested in finding out more on how companies like Hitachi are helping businesses collect, manage and exploit their data assets.  All of the main solution providers are talking about helping their customers make best use of data assets, but how many are actually doing it?

Look out for my new podcast in 2019, where we will dig into how technology companies are actually delivering on adding value for their customers, with real examples across infrastructure, applications and platforms.

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Written by Chris Evans

With 30+ years in IT, Chris has worked on everything from mainframe to open platforms, Windows and more. During that time, he has focused on storage, developed software and even co-founded a music company in the late 1990s. These days it's all about analysis, advice and consultancy.