What does your role at HDS entail?
Brian Householder (BH): I mainly focus on upfront business strategy, where we want to go and what markets we should be in, business development, alliances and working with technology partners such as Microsoft or SAP.
We are different to our competitors in that we are a pure-play storage provider – we aren’t going out there spending $8bn buying up a place in vertical markets and are sticking to our knitting in storage infrastructure. In the last quarter we grew 20 per cent year-on-year and by 50 per cent in Asia-Pacific, so across the board we’re executing well.
Where is that growth coming from?
BH: Forty per cent of our revenue now is software and services. Five years ago it was probably 20 per cent. So we’ve seen a huge shift in the overall shape of our business. In the past, Hitachi was known for its high-end hardware, and the core of our business is still in that space, but we are also shifting down market and getting into other areas that are integrated with our strategy. But the software and services side, including maintenance, has grown rapidly.
What’s driving software and services take-up?
BH: I would put it into two camps. The first is virtualisation – everyone is doing virtualisation, whether it be VMware, SAN, Hyper-V or so on, and that’s been a big driver for us. Things that happen on the virtualisation server side force network storage on the storage side, which is great, and we’ve been able to draft off that.
With server virtualisation, the cost-efficiency argument is a no-brainer. What about with storage virtualisation?
BH: The storage virtualisation ROI is easy, even with the basics like data migrations or moving arrays in and out of your environment, or if they’re coming off lease. There are real hard costs there we can address with storage virtualisation that are getting a lot of traction.
The second big thing we’re seeing a lot of trends stemming from is growth in unstructured data – the growth of email, presentation, Excel and Word documents and so on. For the last 20 years, the vendor community has tried to optimise the applications and the databases. But the growth is not in this area; it’s in the documents, emails and all the areas that aren’t governed by the IT department. We have put a lot of effort in recent years into managing that environment. It’s a different world – you are talking about files and content you care about versus just storing things on something. And how do you manage that content? So you start looking at it in terms of your environment. For example, when you’re writing a news article you’ve got the audio, pictures and words – how do you tie it all together and manage it for its lifecycle? And certainly compliance and regulation will force similar concerns around healthcare or financial services.