Hitachi Data Systems will try to put some meat on the bones of its storage virtualization strategy next week when it brings partner Veritas to a roundtable, but we're still not expecting anything resembling a product strategy.
Context HDS has placed virtualization at the center of its ambitions, and indeed has concluded that when it eventually delivers products, they will sit between the server and storage ? not at one end or the other. It's also got a $1.2bn war chest in hand to buy its way into the market, but has yet to identify publicly what's in the crosshairs. Speaking at a Merrill Lynch conference in London this week, COO for Europe John Taffinder hinted there would be more substance in the next few weeks, but didn't offer any specifics.
Technology Calling in partner Veritas to lend it moral and financial support for the virtualization summit begs the question of exactly what it is doing with Veritas. Simply anointing Veritas' widely used Volume Manager won't take the game any further forward, and Veritas' own SAN virtualization product is still in development. Even this will, we're told, fall short of fully bridging the storage and server components.
Indeed, HDS is still toying with other approaches: software under development at Hitachi Ltd and the in-band approaches of third parties such as DataCore and FalconStor. The latter solution, requiring all corporate data to flow through an NT server that acts as the guts, may prove to unpalatable for HDS's enterprise customers.
Meanwhile, there are new storage management components in the pipe to plug into HDS's HiCommand console, and tighter integration with Veritas' SAN Point Control is promised.
Financial impact HDS says the high end of the market, where its 9900 Freedom array plays, is where the real storage action is right now. Although overall spending on storage in this half of the year is down by 15-20% from the same period last year, HDS has nevertheless shipped three times as much storage capacity year-over-year and has grown revenue by 20%, which is somewhat less than it had hoped. It's laid off 10% of its workforce as a result of this and the wider financial problems up at Hitachi Group headquarters in Japan.
Conclusion Software offers HDS a new set of revenue opportunities, if it can decide how to exploit it. There's supposedly 800 engineers working on storage software within the group as a whole, a company within a company, so it's not unreasonable to expect HDS should be able to offer more than a 10,000-foot view (again) sometime soon ? otherwise it smacks of confusion.
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