Unified storage for AI trend highlighted in Hitachi Vantara shifts

A rejuvenated Hitachi Vantara, in product and leadership direction, is one of the many major vendors tackling the issue of how to approach AI and storage.

As IT leaders seek to translate AI potential into concrete action, the data storage layer is emerging as a key infrastructure component. Running AI at scale requires a huge amount of data; many organizations might have scattered this data across a wide range of applications, systems and locations, both on premises and in the public cloud.

In a recent survey from TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group, 63% of respondents said they regularly encounter issues with visibility across all data. Thus, there's an opportunity for technologies that can help organizations overcome this fragmentation to build effective data pipelines, for AI as well as a range of other applications.

The extent of the opportunity has encouraged multiple players into the fray, operating at all levels of the storage and data stack. The latest enterprise storage company to throw its hat into this ring is Hitachi Vantara, which recently launched the first iterations of its Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) One product.

The AI and storage market is competitive. Several vendors seek to address the AI and data fragmentation opportunity. Major players including Dell, IBM, HPE, NetApp and Pure Storage are all focused on similar opportunities, as are emerging vendors such as DataDirect Networks, Hammerspace, Infinidat, Vast Data and Weka. Set against this backdrop, Hitachi Vantara's new focus and executive leadership team are developing a compelling story for a fast-evolving market.

The AI and storage market is competitive. Several vendors seek to address the AI and data fragmentation opportunity.

Products span various storage types

The release is the initial manifestation of a new direction for Hitachi Vantara, a large organization that is known for well-engineered products, but perhaps not for operating at the bleeding edge of innovation.

Rather than being a point product, VSP One is a new product foundation designed for the fast-approaching multi-cloud and AI era. It's built on a unified, software-defined architecture with a single data plane and control plane. Enterprises can use it as a data fabric that spans multiple locations and environments, managed by an AI-enabled software stack.

Organizations can deploy VSP One SDS Block Cloud as an appliance, software-only or in the public cloud, initially on the AWS Marketplace. VSP One File, billed as a next-generation file storage product, is available initially as an appliance. Future iterations will see file storage available as software-defined storage and in the cloud, as well as object storage flavors.

Strategy, leadership changes abound

This new direction is possible because of organizational changes at Hitachi. Last year, the company announced a new direction for the Hitachi Vantara subsidiary, one that has seen it refocus back on the core enterprise storage and related cloud infrastructure market. Hitachi decided to move its data and storage product development and engineering division into Vantara. The company also carved out the IoT services division to a new Hitachi Digital Services group.

Assessing the minutiae of tech companies' organizational structure might seem like too much information, but it's relevant on this occasion because these changes afford Hitachi Vantara greater control over its product strategy. As a result, it has allowed the company to add some notable executives to its senior leadership ranks. Tech industry luminary Sheila Rohra leads a new management team as CEO. Storage industry veteran Octavian Tanase, the chief product officer, guides the new product leadership. Both are NetApp veterans.

These developments should be positive for customers because they will drive the creation of new products that address their evolving needs. The enterprise storage market has always been a dynamic and innovative space. The emergence of AI places a fresh spotlight on how the storage and data layer needs to evolve, and Hitachi Vantara is developing a strong response.

Simon Robinson is a principal analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group who focuses on existing and emerging storage and hyperconverged infrastructure technologies, and on related data- and storage-management products and services used by enterprises and service providers.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget. Its analysts have business relationships with technology vendors.

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