Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) intends to ensure its future by focusing on virtualising all forms of data storage, regardless of platform, software type or specialist business area, the firm's international CEO Jack Domme has revealed to Computing.
"We say ‘If you want to go EMC, go buy EMC: we'll virtualise all of it'," said Domme. "End users do not need to be locked in. That kind of stuff is still not true of our competitors – they still don't know how to virtualise outside their own boxes. That's kind of amazing around data right now."
Domme's message is that the big data arena does not simply depend on the storage of data, but in providing the technological ability to allow end users to more widely interpret and put it to use themselves.
"Data types are very sophisticated – we're talking about a brain scan, or MRI, for example. Anybody can analyse it [to a point], but you're going to see companies with sophisticated analytics. You're going to say ‘Somebody could write it, but it's going to take a lot of knowledge, a lot of competency to compare your blood test or your MRI from 10 years ago, to today," he said.
"This is how things are going to change in terms of governance. Making data objects real for current applications. And who's going to write the application to analyse all this stuff? We believe that's going to come from very specific industries.
"Today, this kind of information is not available," Domme continued. "But we're already storing it at a level the industry can't even comprehend right now.
"With people putting all this data in Autonomy, or other application-specific services, you'd have to store petabytes and petabytes of data. And you'd have to index it across all of these applications. And then you're not going to be able to index it at a sophisticated level," he said.
Domme's belief is that it's in Hitachi's 900 subsidiary companies where the key lies to HDS's future in a big data world: "We'll be able to provide not just the MRI that takes the picture of you, but also analyse the picture. Who better to analyse it than the people who created it, and the science around MRIs? That's where it's all going to go. Who better to analyse transportation and energy efficiency than those who created it? At least it's a start. You're not going to have Dell analysing MRIs tomorrow."
But Domme also issued a warning to the data industry that storage models need updating in order to enrich the governance process.
"A lot of things have siloed themselves off," he said. "Social media: are they really sharing data, or are they trying to capture their own ecosystem? That's got to work its way out. It's like, if you're Facebook, you're there to capture as much data as possible and not share it outside of your walls. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out."
Domme did remark, however, that the extent to which health and life sciences are starting to share information is a positive step forward, but again warned that too narrow a business focus could be an impediment to progress.
"If I'm a healthcare provider, I only want to share my data with my 100 or so hospitals, because that's the advantage I have," said Domme. "But I don't think everybody will ever tell you you can't have your data. And at least, right now, you get to see a full container of your data, correlated across years and years, and that means you know where it is."
Domme said that there are currently no acquisitions in the pipeline.
"Not one," Domme told Computing. "The trick with any acquisitions, whether it's ours or our competitors, is how well does it integrate? If you're still buying companies and you keep them as silos – building more silos for your customers – I don't think that's the answer."
He continued: "A lot of our competitors have resorted more to acquisition than they have organic IP. And one of the things we think differentiates us is integration."
• Computing's Big Data Summit is on 28 June. Details here: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/event/2156376/computing-summit-2012
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