Hitachi Data Systems: Late But Coming On Strong

By Steven Vonder Haar  |  Posted 2002-06-17 Print this article Print

Dossier: Although Hitachi entered the market for storage area networks after EMC had become dominant, the subsidiary of Japan's Hitachi Ltd. is making up for lost time.

Late, but Coming on Strong

Hitachi Data Systems is gunning for EMC Corp.

Although Hitachi entered the market for storage area networks after EMC had become dominant, the subsidiary of Japan's Hitachi Ltd. is making up for lost time.

The most tangible evidence of Hitachi's rise is the business it has stolen from EMC. The Weather Channel cable TV network, for instance, replaced an EMC deployment with a 20-terabyte storage area network system featuring equipment from Hitachi, says Bill Watson, manager of systems administration for the network.

"It's the fastest, sleekest, most scalable box on the market," Watson says of the Hitachi system that manages the storage of images used in the weather reports the network prepares for media partners nationwide.

A growing reputation for reliability is helping Hitachi win more business. At the Human Genome Project at Washington University in St. Louis, an air-conditioning breakdown in the data center in July 2000 caused almost all of the equipment there to shut down, including gear made by EMC. Hitachi's gear, on the other hand, kept running, says systems manager Kelly Carpenter.

Hitachi also has been the subject of less criticism than EMC on interoperability—one of the SAN industry's biggest problems.

"Hitachi is more willing to explore the edges, to recognize it's a heterogeneous world," says Sheldon Meingarten, director of storage for Manulife Financial, a Toronto-based financial services firm.

The risk Hitachi runs is letting its focus on EMC (which has about three times Hitachi's market share) keep it from capitalizing on opportunities to sell SANs to smaller companies. Profit margins in the midsize market are slimmer, but revenue growth should be greatest here in the next few years.

For now, though, large organizations aren't balking at the price of Hitachi's SAN equipment.

"On service, expansion and uptime of Hitachi versus others, there really is no comparison," says Selvin Hollingsworth of Total Systems Services, a processor of credit card information. "You can tell they're in this for the long haul."

Company Information

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. 750 Central Expressway, Santa Clara, CA 95050
(408) 970-1000
Ticker: HIT Exchange:NYSE Employees: 2,600 in subsidiary (338,000 in company)

Shinjiro Iwata
Chief Executive Officer
A 30-year veteran of Hitachi, he was named to the top post nine months ago. He held several international positions over the years, and from 1997 to 2000 was vice president of the storage line of business.

Dave Roberson
President and Chief Operating Officer
A 20-year employee of Hitachi Data Systems, Roberson is credited with changing the company from a hardware maker to a "solutions provider."

Jim Davidson
Executive Vice President and General Manager
Holds profit and loss responsibility for Hitachi Data Systems operations and manages sales, customer support and finance. A former employee of Xerox and Diebold, he's been with Hitachi since 1989.

Key Products:
Equipment and software sold under the Freedom Storage product line. The company is striving to offer software to make storage systems easier to install, monitor and manage.

Reference Checks

The Weather Channel

Bill Watson
Manager, Systems Administration
(770) 226-0000
Project: Cable TV network has used a 20-terabyte SAN from Hitachi and eight Brocade Silkworm switches since 2000.

Washington University, Genome Sequencing Center

Kelly Carpenter
Systems Manager kcarpent@ watson.wustl.edu
Project: The university deployed a 2.4 terabyte SAN from EMC in 1999, and added a 4-terabyte system from Hitachi in 2000 for the project to catalog human DNA.

Burlington Coat Factory

Mike Prince
Chief Information Officer, VP
(609) 387-7800
Project: Deployed Hitachi storage systems and Brocade switches to streamline data backup.

Total Systems Services

Selvin Hollingsworth
Director, Network Services
(706) 649-2310
Project: The credit-card processor operates a 12-terabyte SAN from Hitachi.

Manulife Financial

Sheldon Meingarten
Director, Common Storage
(416) 341-7812
Project: Toronto-based financial services firm operates multiple SANs, using equipment from both EMC and Hitachi linked by Brocade switching systems.

The Hill School

Rick Bauer
Chief Information Officer
rbauer@ thehill.org
Project: The Pottstown, Pa.-based boarding school is deploying a 2.3 terabyte SAN from Hitachi to manage its digitized lecture videos.

Executives listed here are all users of Hitachi Data Systems' products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.


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