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A three-tiered strategy for cloud computing success

Storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems unveils its cloud roadmap and several products and services for its channel partners

Storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems (NYSE: HIT) unveiled its cloud computing roadmap and strategy Tuesday, including a three-tier strategy to help partners bring their customers from the infrastructure cloud to the information cloud.

The vendor (HDS) sees three stages on a customer’s cloud journey. The starting-point is the infrastructure cloud to unify server, storage and networking silos using virtualized and converged resources that can scale on demand.

At this first tier, HDS launched several new cloud services that will be available through the channel either as an on-premise solution or a service on a pay-per-use/as needed basis. Private File Tiering is essentially network-attached storage on demand delivered to the user when they need it, as big as they need it, on a pay per use basis. There’s also a File Serving solution, and a Microsoft SharePoint Archiving solution to optimize SharePoint environments, which HDS said more and more organizations are using for content sharing.

Building on this first tier, HDS calls the second tier of its cloud strategy the Content Cloud. With help from technology obtained in the acquisition of BlueArc, this level includes tools that enable data indexing, searching and discovery across data types, independent of application. This architecture allows for services such as archiving and content as a service, and helps customers gain control of their unstructured data.

“This is where we can separate information from the application that created the information,” said Miki Sandorfi, chief strategy officer for file, content and cloud with HDS. “Then it can be used for search, for visualization, and be more flexible than when it was locked into the application that created it.”

The third and final tier of its cloud vision, where HDS sees clients going in the cloud space, is the Information Cloud. Building on technology from the vendor’s acquisition of ParaScale, this level allows information analytics tools and processes to be integrated with the underlining infrastructure, connecting data sets to reveal patterns and give business leaders actionable information to drive decision-making.

“In the next few years, 80 per cent of all information will be unstructured. It all contains value, and the information cloud can tap into that with fluidity,” said Sandorfi. “All data has value, and we need to be able to pull all that information together to drive toward better information processing for better decision-making.”

The solution packages and service offerings are the first tangible offerings for partners to implement in this vision, with more to come. Sandorfi said they focused on management and service integration to help partners get into the services opportunity.

“In our view, the cloud is a services delivery model,” said Sandorfi. “These products will help partners help their clients deal with the growth of unstructured data.”

For channel partners, Sandorfi said the biggest opportunity is around skills and services, and customers struggle to find and develop cloud-related skill-sets within their own organization and turn to partners for help.

“Any VARs that step up to get trained and build these solutions, I think will have a huge competitive advantage,” said Sandorfi. “If they can develop a comprehensive understanding of what it means to their client base, the VARs that do that will be able to bring tons more value to their client base. Some VARs aren’t ready, they’re still trying to push hardware, and customers just aren’t looking for that anymore.”

Barry Morrison, regional vice-president for HDS Canada, said partners will appreciate the greater clarity around the vendor’s market strategy going forward as they accelerate into the cloud.

“Most VARs today are focused on infrastructure and content, and the exciting part is where we go with the information cloud,” said Morrison.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.