Hitachi Data Systems stays focused on storage

As the broadcast and production market in the Middle East grows, the requirement for sophisticated storage solutions is also on the rise. John Bentley of Hitachi Data Systems explains why the company opened an office in Dubai and what it has to offer customers in the region.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  March 1, 2005

I|~|johnbig.jpg|~|John Bentley, sales director, Hitachi Data Systems, Middle East.|~|In the broadcast industry, when we refer to Hitachi, people tend to think of cameras. But Hitachi Data Systems is more to do with storage, isn’t it? How does that tie in with the broadcast sector? Hitachi has over 1000 subsidiary companies and they manufacture a very wide range of products. Hitachi Data Systems is part of the Information Processing Division of Hitachi. We opened an office here in Dubai about nine months ago because we saw the Middle East market had reached a stage where it was ready for the kind of storage solutions we had. And we see the broadcasting market here as a significant opportunity because so much of their data is now digitised and for digitised content, you require storage. Increasingly, organisations are looking for storage when they want it, which means they need to have it on hand. That’s where we come in. We can offer highly scalable systems. Does that mean you are capable of providing an entire media asset management (MAM) solution to customers? With help from our partners, the answer to that is yes. Although we specialise only in storage, we will be partnering with a couple of other vendors so as to ensure that together, we can provide a complete media asset management solution to our customers. This is how we have done it in Europe and this is how we plan to do it here as well. We have taken the first step in that process by partnering with MidEast Data Systems (MDS), which is a local systems integrator. When you say storage, what exactly can you provide? We can provide the entire hardware infrastructure required for storage systems. We provide the most scalable, the most reliable and the most highly available storage systems in the world today. Our storage capacities are anywhere from 250 Gigabytes to 300 terabytes. In fact, we can manage up to 32 petabytes of external, heterogeneous storage through our single Universal Storage Platform — no other vendor in the world can match that yet. This flexibility to be scalable and also ensure that data won’t get lost is important. Take a TV station, for instance. It keeps gathering more and more data and needs to be able to expand rapidly to store all of that content. At the same time, imagine if this data can’t be accessed because the system is down or there’s a disk corruption? We are the only organisation in the world that offers 100% guarantee against any loss of data. Nobody else does that. This is because our Enterprise systems are fault tolerant, with no single point of failure. Everything is duplicated and the microcode is so sophisticated that it can deal with errors as they occur — even hardware upgrades can be achieved non-disruptively. What’s the maximum storage you can offer on a system? Internally in a box, you can go upto 300 terabytes of storage on our systems. There’s nothing like that in the broadcast sector yet but as their requirements grow, they will need storage systems that can cope with their step-by-step growth and that’s what we can provide. This sector is a burgeoning market and there is a growing storage requirement here. If broadcasters have to remain competitive, they need to have the capacity to hold and store information, access it fast, and bring it to the public as quickly as they can and also, not lose it. In one word, Digital! That’s the key. We provide industry-robust storage for small, medium and large users. This market place is now ready for the kind of storage systems we have. ||**||II|~||~||~|What is that core element that gives you an advantage over your competitors? The fact that our storage systems are firmly based on open standards. One of the fundamental aspects of what we do is that we don’t lock our customers in with proprietary solutions. By committing ourselves to the open standards philosophy, we have given our customers the freedom of choice to take advantage of multi-vendor, interoperable networking solutions. We have storage solutions that span the smallest business to the largest enterprises and all our systems use the same software. This is unique to Hitachi. Other manufacturers and vendors have different systems at the entry level, the middle level and at the high end. In some cases, they even have systems they have bought in from other companies and these run different software. So, in some cases, an end user needs two different platforms or sometimes even three to operate them. That means extra training and more complexity. Since we don’t have any of that and because we deal with the same software, we can manage the whole environment much more effectively and easily. This ultimately helps to keep the cost of storage down significantly. Hitachi has been instrumental in doing this because of the way we are designing systems and the way we are managing them with the same software. Customers don’t need duplicate software licenses and this, in turn, brings the operational costs down. This helps us to reduce the total cost of ownership for our customers as well. Why did you choose to operate out of Dubai? This is a growing market and so many broadcasters are moving here. Although it’s a competitive environment, we believe we have a good opportunity to deliver the best systems, through the best partners — and the time is right to do this now. Why did you choose MDS? MDS has worked with several major broadcasters in the region. It has many local customers in Dubai and Yemen, two markets that are important to us. Have you done any projects for broadcasters in the Middle East yet? We are on the brink of doing one here. We hope to have our first success in the Middle East broadcast sector this month. This is very exciting for us. Initially, the requirement is for one of our mid-range enterprise storage systems; this will permit growth and requirements may expand into a complete media asset management system. But we have done successful projects outside the Middle East and have been most active in Europe, especially Sweden. We partnered with local companies and solution providers to give Swedish broadcasting companies a comprehensive media asset management solution. What will be the role of your Dubai office? Our primary role is to expand and develop the market place for storage systems, but through selected partners only — we do not sell direct. There are three of us here now but that would probably grow as we expand. The focus is on providing support to our partners for sales, technology and solutions, together with customer services. Will you be exhibiting at Cabsat? We don’t have a stand at the show this year. But we have sponsored the Digital Studio Industry Leadership Awards 2005 to ensure that we have visibility at the show, as this event is tied in with Cabsat. ||**||

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