This year I’ve had the lucky opportunity to speak with Hitachi Vantara customers across the USA, Europe and Asia. Some visits are celebrations of success, some are conversations about product features or roadmaps. Most are "updates" on the Hitachi Vantara perspective on the market, and our initiatives with key partners like VMware. Those update meetings typically involve me presenting Hitachi’s thoughts on the “big conversations” that are happening in our industry and generally spend a significant amount of time on data opportunities and data challenges.
One hot topic is Digital Transformation. I’ll often joke that as a marketer, using that phrase – especially on a stage – gives me pause, as I almost expect a bolt of buzzword-fueled lightning to strike me right there as I stand, turning me into a sport coat wearing pile of ash.
In most conversations though, a funny thing happens. The buzzword gets the head nod. It seems that despite geography or industry, the smarter, pervasive utilization of data to drive business changing insights is very, very real. Lightning strike, at least temporarily, avoided.
In these, mostly IT-leader laden, crowds there is a second acknowledgement that (without the repetitive proof of these customer visits) could also raise buzzword concerns: data center modernization. It’s another big conversation that happens everywhere.
Businesses of all types have come to grips with the fact that, better use of data is driving digital transformation. That has amplified the need to get a richer blend of data, across all the core business applications IT has historically wrestled with, as well as operational, customer and social data that is (often) net new. Often this is referred to as the blend of IT (business) data and OT (operational and/or machine) data.
To IT teams, however, it means that the data growth that already challenges their ability to control costs and scale operational processes is accelerating, and the systems that support it are now being further stressed by newer, and even faster-growing, data sets.
Regardless of industry or geography, businesses are looking to Hitachi and our key partners like VMware for ways to improve the costs and agility of managing the systems used to store, enrich, activate and monetize that data. The overall objective isn’t new, but the ability to accomplish it using new access to important data, as well as new technologies and techniques to analyze it are new, or at least fundamentally enhanced.
The industry impacts of these initiatives are clear. The growth of the internet in the past decade has totally disrupted many old business models and replaced them with multiple digital channels that have had a profound impact on industries of all types.
The examples often used are well-tread, but noteworthy nonetheless. Over the just-wrapped-up holiday weekend in the United States, my family was planning a first-time visit to Thailand. This involved researching, price-checking, and booking locations and transportation half-way around the world, all while sitting in front of a home computer, phone and tablet while drinking far too much coffee.
Using a travel agent may still make sense for a number of reasons, but the idea that travelers now have the ability to find and compare the best airfare, watch reasonably real-time hotel availability, research tour operators and in-country travel schedules has turned an industry upside down. At one point this weekend, I booked a hotel in Thailand, on my phone, and flights on an airline I had barely ever heard of over breakfast. Even better, until thinking it through for this blog post, it all felt rather "normal" to do.
With a few swipes or keystrokes and the help of sites like Priceline, Kayak and Travelocity, customers have become their own travel agent. There’s also tremendous opportunity for travel aggregators or the business they support to harness the power of digital transformation and create highly personalized experiences and create real differentiation, market leadership and even drive down costs.
However, this wonderful user experience doesn’t come without the proper data center technologies to support the storing, blending and analyzing of all this data to provide this seamless view to my overly-caffeinated eyeballs. Delivering this experience - our countless other industry equivalents - cost effectively is at the heart of many data center modernization efforts.
The IT teams driving these systems are more aware than anyone that the enemy of cost control, agility and flexibility isn’t the fault of technology or a particular technology deployment – it’s the inability for individual technologies and solutions to work together to achieve these common goals. To facilitate this, organizations must modernize the systems, software and processes they use to drive operations in a coordinated and comprehensive way. Increased agility drives accelerated innovation and a successful Digital Transformation journey.
As I’ve had these discussions with customers, it was not only these trends that bubbled to the forefront, but also the technology partners with which our customers depend on for transformation – with VMware clearly being at the top of most lists. This served as a wonderful reminder of the power that a partnership of IT leaders can bring to simplify the lives of our customers - and ensure that systems work together as needed.
Hitachi and VMware are committed to accelerating our customers’ Digital Transformation and IT modernization journey by bringing IT Agility to life; with deep integration that accelerates deployments. This integration spans 3 levels:
- Modern Infrastructure - Agile, automated, software-defined, flash accelerated, hyperconverged; with consistent data services
- Simplified IT Delivery - Full integration with vSphere, vRealize, NSX, VVols, VASA and more, allowing for a quicker, secure implementation of ITaaS and IT Automation
- Diversified Consumption - On-Premises, Cloud-based, Managed or “As-a-Service”
It’s these kinds of capabilities that we believe will accelerate our customers’ success in modernizing their data centers and succeeding with digital transformation. Over the last few weeks, Hitachi has introduced a number of new technologies that are integrated with and support VMware’s platform, from storage, IT analytics, IT automation and data protection – and were proud of VMware’s vocal support.
The reality is, however, that many of the Hitachi/VMware joint customers will increasingly consume these technologies in integrated converged, hyperconverged and rack scale computing environments. And together, Hitachi and VMware are ensuring that our tight integration in these areas allows to simply deployment and help migrate workloads into modern infrastructures. If you are unfamiliar with the technologies that are leading this charge, they include:
- Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) CI: a factory-built and tested package of compute, storage, and networking that when combined with VMware vSphere virtualization platform creates the best foundation for apps, cloud and business.
- Hitachi UCP HC: an all-in-one hyperconverged system that combines the strength of Hitachi UCP with VMware vSphere, vCenter and vSAN for simplicity and IT agility.
- Hitachi UCP RS: rack-scale, hyperconverged infrastructure, with VMware Cloud Foundation, consisting of vSphere, NSX, vSAN and vRealize Suite, to provide an integrated software-defined data center (SDDC) environment.
- Hitachi UCP Advisor: automated management and orchestration software provides single pane of glass visibility across, compute, network and storage. Tight integration with VMware vCenter means organizations don’t have to learn new systems, buy additional software or undertake manual, time consuming integration.
- Hitachi Enterprise Cloud (HEC): a pre-engineered solution for VMware vRealize that provides a public cloud experience with private cloud security and enterprise-class service levels.
It is exciting to work on solutions that help customers that can help them modernize their operations, and hopefully provide me more travel-guru consumer experiences to their own customers. It's also exciting to know that we have a lot more near-term updates to our portfolio that will extend our joint solutions with VMware in this space... so stay tuned.
It’s also invigorating to partner with like-minded industry leaders like VMware, who share our vision, which you can see clearly see in the recent VMware blog from Tom Herrmann, Global VP Strategic Alliances VMware, or by reading more in our point of view paper Move Today Shape Tomorrow – Next Steps on the Digital Transformation Journey.
So, as long as customers keep wanting to have these conversations, travel sites allow me book all manner of crazy travel while in my pajamas, and lighting bolts stay far away, I'll keep fueling the buzzword bingo machine. Because it appears digital transformation isn't going anywhere, nor will it succeed without major (virtual) data center modernization efforts.
So let's keep talking.