Hitachi Data Systems claims it is pushing the storage service provider (SSP) envelope with the launch of its new spin-off storage solutions entity, hojo8.
According to Andrew Fox, VP and general manager of HDS Australia/New Zealand, hojo8 is "a wholesale company" that will "create a separate brand that has no association with Hitachi".hojo8 will target both large and small customers with a mixture of direct selling to the high end and partnering with resellers in the SME space, Fox added. Fibre optic cable service carrier, Uecomm was announced this week as one of the partners hojo8 has enlisted to help deliver its SSP services.
"hojo8 is a services company," Fox said. "It has a range of services and managed applications that extend beyond just shipping a packaged solution into Internet data centres."
Fox sees hojo8 leading the way towards a future where storage will be like any other utility offered to large and small consumers. Users will be able to switch it off and on as required and then receive a bill at the end of a given time period, he said.
Fox referred to analyst estimates that the storage services market in Australia will be worth $400 million within three years and $US2 Billion globally within two years. He said HDS is "already doing about $7 million per annum" in storage services.
"It is an idea whose time has come," Fox said. "In Australia so far the only companies that have been able to do these sorts of services are the big outsourcers with big data centres, such as EDS, IBM GSA and CSC.
"They are our [HDS's] three biggest customers at the moment and it is expected they will also end up being partners of ours in the SSP space."
Most of the people who are offering storage services in Australia and overseas are only servicing the high end, Fox said. With the help of channel partners, he expects to make storage services available to the masses.
"[Existing SSPs] are not focused on SMEs, but a lot of what we offer has significant implications for SMEs," Fox said. "We are looking for different types of partners in different types of market sectors. There is also a lot of software in these sorts of services, so we expect a lot of software partners as well.
"The vision is for hojo8 to be a separate entity and not at all attached to the box moving Hitachi. It will be the operating services arm of Hitachi and I hope that one day it is [HDS's] largest customer."
Fox claimed over $75 million has been invested in the launch of hojo8 and it hits the ground with 60 full time staff. It is aiming to secure 25 per cent of the storage services market and one day intends to expand the services globally.
"hojo8 is an Australian initiative but if we get the model right, we will be selling these services to the world," he said.
The name hojo8 is actually derived from a thirteenth century shogun (Hojo) who had a reputation for thwarting Mongol raids despite being heavily outnumbered, by making his army look bigger than it was.
Photograph: HDS Australia GM Andrew Fox