Cloud computing has been the buzzword du jour for a couple of years now, and organisations are finding that beyond the hype there is a technology that can help them improve agility, flexibility and choice.
Bob Plumridge, EMEA chief technology officer at Hitachi Data Systems, told delegates to today’s Hitachi Innovation Forum in Johannesburg that just a couple of years ago cloud was seen as hype.

“Here we are, 18 months later, and cloud is starting to enable the big data projects that we need to have to do real analysis on data. Most of this data is cloud-based – so it really is happening.”

While the world is in economic downturn, consumers are nonetheless seeing a massive growth in data, Plumridge says. Despite the economy, the demand for storage seems to know no end, with analysts predicting almost 100% growth.

“So if companies are not growing their business, why are they needing to store more data, for longer?” he asks.

Of course, some of the expectations of storage are not realistic, he adds. The other thing that’s growing the data is that no-one deletes anything. This leads to problems in analysing data and stripping out the “nonsense” to focus on what can change the business.

“How do you make use of it? If you can’t use it why spend money storing it?”

Storage is not free – there is a cost associated with it in the business, Plumridge adds. So storage costs money and if the data is rubbish, users may not be able to use it.

“Ingest is important: you need to know what’s rubbish and what’s important. You need to decide this when you store it. You can’t go back and do it, because no-one ever does. If you don’t strip data when you ingest, you are building problems for the future.”

Another problem is that everyone uses their own devices now. People hot-desk, work all hours and use personal devices. This means they have to have access to the data they need, and they need it securely.

“It is a security risk,” says Plumridge. “How can companies control that?”

While companies need to give people access to data, they need to simultaneously secure it.

“It needs to be simple, smart and cost effective.”

The content cloud is based on HDS’ content platform. This is at the core of the data centre, says Plumridge. It has to be interoperable, able to support clusters and must be able to ingest data from the edge. They must be deployable in remote offices, but ingesting data into the core.
These HDI virtual devices are not physical, he adds: they are software devices running on VMware. This is where the software-defined data centre starts to come in, with appliances now running as software instances.

The data use needs to be the same wherever it is deployed, he adds, across any applications and delivered in a variety of ways. Private cloud is almost default today, Plumridge adds, with some hybrid deployment starting to emerge.

“But whatever type of cloud we are talking about the same technology underlines the content platform.”

HDS can help customers with solutions and technologies to deliver private clouds from their own facilities. HDS can also manage it on behalf of customers. There are also different ways of paying for technology: the days of capital expenditure are gone; the days of operation expenditure are here, along with the concept of paying only for what is needed.

HDS also works with partners who deliver services on their behalf. “So we don’t prescribe how you use the technology. We want to fit in with your business model.”

HCP Anywhere is HDS’ solution for delivering data securely to any user. This allows companies to address concerns around data loss and leakage, and the implications of these problems.

This is a new market for HDS, letting it deliver any data, anywhere, on any device. Importantly, it can also wipe any data from any device. The tool supports Windows and Apple devices.

It also enables data sharing, since data is help on the HPC. This means users don’t have keep emailing information, but can share it over the cloud.

The content platform itself has also been significantly upgraded, he adds. This includes an S3 interface and unstructured queries.

Using HCP as a cloud storage platform lets companies work with metadata that allows them to simplify the management of structured and unstructured data.

A new cloud series has been launched in the US, but will be available around the world shortly, says Plumridge. This will allow the enterprise to extend into a secure, robust and off-premise cloud.

HDS will do this with partners, providers and resellers. All HDS solutions will be available via partners.