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Hitachi guns for enterprise storage solutions, organises forums

The Japanese conglomerate sees India as one of its prime markets for storage solutions, its fastest growing business

"The enterprise storage market is worth about $100 million in India, we are targeting 25 to 30 percent of this market, and aim for revenues of $30 million"

To the world, the Hitachi brand is associated with consumer electronics, industrial products, and nuclear power plants. But did you know that Enterprise Data Storage is Hitachi's fastest growing business? Hitachi Data Systems (a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi), recorded 58 percent growth as of June 2001, despite the downturn in the economy. HDS declared annual sales of $1.6 billion for FY 2000-2001 and is aiming for $2 billion this year. It is now investing heavily in three markets, from where it expects major business one of those markets is India.

HDS opened its India office in Bangalore in April this year and also launched its Channel One Partner Programme here at the same time. To date it has appointed three resellers: DELDOT Systems, LANBit India and IMSIL.

"We are investing heavily in Brazil, China and India and are targeting the top 200 companies here," said Greg Cornfield, Executive VP, Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America (CAPLA), Hitachi Data Systems. "The enterprise storage market is worth about $100 million in India, we are targeting 25 to 30 percent of the market, and aim for revenues of $30 million."

The Channel One Partner Programme is key to HDS's strategy for developing the local channel. "The objective of the Channel One Partner Programme is to provide a unified strategy for all partners to provide support through a common medium like the Web."

Last year HDS received the award for 'Best Channel Strategy.' The awards, presented by Vision Events, a GartnerGroup company, are the only industry awards to be selected solely by a community of systems integrators.

Cornfield informed that HDS is developing the channel slowly and associating with smaller companies as they are more focussed. "We look for partners who understand data storage and have a good understanding of the market," he said. Key to its channel strategy is the appointment of leading system integrators, who can provide local market expertise and tight support.

Spreading the word
HDS also wants to spread awareness about its storage solutions. It recently conducted the 'Enterprise Data Storage Forum' for business leaders from tech-savvy companies on 25th, 26th and 27th of July in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore respectively. It was well attended by CIOs, CTOs, MIS directors, IT strategists, network consultants, systems integrators etc. Topics at the seminar included Global Trends and Practices in Data Storage, Overview of the Storage Market in the last two years, Key Building Blocks for Storage and a Game Plan for Successful Implementation of Storage Solutions.

The seminar was cosponsored by LANBit India and facilitated by Network Magazine-The India Edition. Speaking at the forum, Manesh Patel, COO, Business Publications Division, Indian Express Group, said, "Storage is the single most important factor for an enterprise in assuring information availability, information integrity, and disaster recovery."

Greg Cornfield of HDS later acknowledged this by saying, "So serious is HDS on enterprise storage that it discontinued its server and mainframe businesses to concentrate on storage. Over the next five years Hitachi will invest $8 billion in this market. "

Cornfield informed that 48 percent of HDS solutions are Unix-based, while 28 percent are for Windows NT/2000 and 20 percent for IBM's OS/390.

"We are dealing with network storage, not traditional enterprise storage," he said.

Storage solutions
HDS storage solutions span from Network Attached Storage (NAS) to enterprise wide Storage Area Networks (SANs).

Hitachi Freedom Storage products include the Freedom 9900 and 9200 family of storage solutions. The Hitachi Freedom 9900 uses the world's first (and only) internal switched-fabric architecture that significantly improves performance, scalability, availability, and manageability of storage systems.

Hitachi has devised an initiative for providing businesses complete freedom of choice in establishing data-centric enterprise networks. Dubbed Hitachi Freedom Data Networks (FDN), the initiative encompasses storage, switches and hubs, servers/clients, management software, protocols, services and networks developed by Hitachi, alliance partners, and third party providers.

In Asia, HDS has installed a SAN for HSBC with 60 terabyte storage capacity and another for Singapore Airlines with 22 terabyte capacity.

"Customers are looking at consolidating data, and to tie it in with multiple platforms in a SAN environment," said Cornfield.

But despite all the fibre and 'big iron' in its storage solutions, HDS acknowledges it is really the software that makes the difference. That's why it is recruiting another 500 software engineers this year.

The company's strategic partners are Microsoft (it is a Microsoft Trusted Solution Provider), McData (SAN solutions), Brocade (for switches), and Veritas (for storage management software).

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