Feb 13, 2014
Recently StorageNewsletter reported Hitachi’s Fiscal 3Q earnings, which ended in December of 2013, they noted that Hitachi Data Systems is “one of the rare storage giants” that is also in servers and is ready to execute this year (2014) in hardware as well as in systems.
The industry is beginning to recognize that HDS is more than just storage. While we do not sell directly into the blade server market against the likes of Dell, HP and IBM (now Lenovo) our servers are sold as part of our storage solutions business, which grew by 18% quarter to quarter and 26% compared to last FY13 Q3.
As the IT industry moves to cloud and converged solutions, storage vendors must also be able to provide servers to support their integrated solutions. Fortunately for HDS, x86 blade and rack servers have been developed by Hitachi ltd since 2004, and it was easy to integrate them into our portfolio and our cloud strategy. Hitachi’s advanced x86 blade servers are designed to scale in 3 dimensions with features only found in RISC based servers. Scale up as an 8 way SMP, scale out as separate nodes, and scale deep through logical partitioning.
Logical partitioning in an x86 platform is unique to Hitachi blade servers. Logical partitioning is a key feature of tier 1 UNIX and mainframe systems, because it provides fail-over availability, load balancing, and multi-tenancy. Hitachi developed their blade servers based on technology they originally developed for the mainframe.
The server business is not new to HDS. When we were formed in 1989, through a joint acquisition by Hitachi ltd and EDS (Electronic Data Systems), we were acquired to sell Hitachi Mainframe systems in the global market. During the 1990’s, Hitachi introduced the Skyline, a mainframe with hybrid semiconductor technology combining CMOS and bipolar emitter-coupled logic applications on a single chip that could out perform IBM mainframes with reduced power and cooling. Skyline vaulted HDS into second place behind IBM.
However, as the mainframe market declined during the 1990s, and every mainframe we sold had to have an IBM operating systems, Hitachi decided to buy out EDS, exit the mainframe business and shift to the SAN storage market in 1999. This transition was done very smoothly since Hitachi’s enterprise storage system, Lightning, with its internal switch architecture, was designed for SAN connectivity and could replace 6 to 8 competitive systems that were still designed for direct attach. During this transition, HIitachi approached HDS with the idea of a mainframe that could run Unix systems in mainframe logical partitions. This was taking mainframe virtualization to another level. However, when we considered that we would also have to certify and sell other vendors’ Unix operating systems we decided to stay with storage and gained the recognition that we have today as a major storage systems vendor.
In the meantime, Hitachi continued to develop this in Japan and converted it to an x86 platform. Once they converted it to an x86 platform this removed the concern about selling proprietary Unix operating systems. So now we were back in the server business with an x86 platform with mainframe Logical Partition capability running x86 hypervisors and x86 software like Microsoft and LINUX.
While other storage vendors will need to partner with third party server vendors and be at the mercy of their development roadmaps, Hitachi can provide its customers a choice and is ready to execute high value solutions in this new world with an integrated development strategy for converged solutions and cloud.