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Analyze that: Hitachi Data Systems

As part of our "Analyze that" series, expert and senior analyst for the Milford, Mass-based Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Tony Prigmore takes a hard look at Hitachi Data Systems. Tony looks at what HDS has done right this year, what products are carrying them and how storage managers should approach buying from HDS.

Also, be sure to join Tony at Storage Decisions 2003 in Chicago, September 10-12. At the conference you can participate in the "Rate the vendor" sessions and added presentations about how to create RFPs. This is a free conference if you qualify -- sign up here today.

Which of Hitachi Data Systems' products do you think will still be around in 3 years?
HDS has a large enough installed base that all of the products they sell today will still be installed somewhere in three years. Obviously we will see additional interface options on the back-end and the front-end of the system as well as performance and functionality improvements. Volume trends, which are driven by price/performance competitiveness, end up dictating product lifecycles. At this juncture, HDS is doing fine in the enterprise space while they continue looking for ways to get more traction in the midrange with Thunder. If the current architecture does get them adequate volume in the midrange, then we should expect to see product cycle refresh. Can you give a brief overview of the Hitachi Data Systems product line as it relates to storage?
Hitachi Data Systems' product line-up is centered on its enterprise-class Lightning and midrange Thunder storage systems. These systems are managed and protected by a family of storage management software - the HiCommand Management Framework. Additionally HDS partners aggressively with all Fibre Channel Switch vendors as well as Network Appliance for NAS functionality. How should storage managers approach buying from Hitachi Data Systems?
The same way they always have. HDS is very aware of the competitive landscape and does a good job positioning their value to clients. All storage purchases continue to enjoy healthy discounting and this market continues to be a buyer's market.

For more information on HDS, see also:

HP stays the course in the high-end

HDS sets iSCSI target

Hitachi backs Cisco storage gear

What has Hitachi Data Systems done this year to make itself a stronger company?
HDS has done a better job competing with higher software functionality and building out more of a Services capability; two important elements of success in this market. Who or what do you see as Hitachi Data Systems' biggest threat?
It really depends in which market. In the mainframe market, and when competing on AIX platforms, it is clearly IBM with both Shark and FastT. In most other markets it ends up being EMC. What direction is Hitachi Data Systems headed? Do you think it's the right roadmap for their future success?
HDS has a sound core strategy to maintain a competitive advantage in the markets it currently serves while also investing in new solutions to reach incremental markets. HDS has the resources to do whatever they want. The interesting thing to watch will be the pace with which they invest and execute.

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