Russell Skingsley

What’s in a name change?

Blog Post created by Russell Skingsley Employee on Oct 24, 2017

On September 19th 2017, at the Hitachi Next event, Vantara was unveiled to the world.  This was the unification of three companies, HDS, Hitachi Insight and Pentaho. However, it was a lot more than just a merger and a name change, it was a signal that we are serious about changing our future and embracing a bold new direction.


Up until this point I had been part of the HDS story for about 18 months.  When I was originally speaking to HDS about joining the company, the vision that was presented to me was one of a future where insights around data were wedded to a century of industrial operational experience to produce a kind of IoT utopia. This was just as well because I had no intention of joining a storage company that had no concept of how it was going to undergo its evolution to the next phase, given the world I had just come from, networking hardware, which was struggling to articulate just such an evolution.


This vision that was articulated to me 18 months or so ago was compelling, and so I signed up.  It did, however, quickly become clear to me that as HDS, we were carrying an association with enterprise grade storage, well-deserved and envied, but also in many respects hampering our ability to convince our customers that we had much more to offer.  The creation of the Vantara brand has already begun to pay dividends in this regard, with many of our customers, analysts, the industry and at large sitting up to take notice.


There have been a number of interpretations of the announcements of September 19th by our toughest competitors, some willfully muddying the waters, some grasping what we were doing and hoping to emulate. Without mentioning any names, some said, “Hitachi is getting out of storage, stick with us pure play vendors”, others said, “Hey we are investing in IoT, we won’t call it IoT exactly but you get the idea”.


Both of these responses are problematic.  The first is a shallow attempt at misleading our customers with a thinly veiled misdirection that somehow suggests “IoT doesn’t need robust storage”.  Well, actually it does.   One of the key components as to why Vantara is embracing IoT is precisely because millions of devices running round the clock transmitting sensor readings generates a massive, probably unprecedented amount, of data.  The collection and analysis of this data to yield operational insights is at the heart of what we are doing here.


In fact, in the age of commoditization of hardware, and the apparent willingness to eschew enterprise grade storage engineering, there is still a home for exactly this quality in mission critical systems. Mission critical is the sweet spot of Hitachi’s reason for being in the world of industrial IoT.  So, no, we are not abandoning the ideals of building bulletproof, enterprise grade data infrastructure, in fact we are ensuring a future that continues to need it more than ever.


The second response, the “Hey we are doing IoT as well” line, falls even flatter.  The Hitachi proposition of better insights through data analytics probably can be emulated, but the idea that an IT rival can just go and acquire 107 years of industrial expertise is not even remotely realistic.  The Hitachi Vantara value, in being part of a much larger business with over a century of actual industrial success, is something that no amount of innovation workshops or hackathons or even building a compelling IT-side IoT platform can get you.


When Hitachi talks about the benefits to factory optimization that IoT can bring, we can say this because we have done this in our factories.  When we say that IoT can mean a revolution to transport systems, we can say that because we have done this with the rail systems we have built.  When we say that IoT can be a catalyst to change in healthcare, it’s because we have done exactly this in the medical machinery that we have … well you get the idea.


Hitachi Vantara is going to continue to innovate in storage and data infrastructure in general as this is exactly what the IoT-driven future demands.  We are going to be at the forefront of that IoT future as we have a unique blend of IT expertise and over a century of operational technology under our belts.


Hitachi Vantara, innovating in data by making the need for it more important than ever.