One day with HDS

HDS CEO Jack Domme shares the company’s vision and strategy with Influencer Summit attendees #HDSday by HDScorp
HDS CEO Jack Domme shares the company’s vision and strategy with Influencer Summit attendees #HDSday by HDScorp

Attended #HDSday yesterday in San Jose.  Listened to what seemed like the majority of the executive team. The festivities were MCed by Asim Zaheer, VP Corp and Product Marketing, a long time friend and employee, that came to HDS with the acquisition of Archivas five or so years ago.   Some highlights of the day’s sessions are included below.

The first presenter was Jack Domme, HDS CEO, and his message was that there is a new, more aggressive HDS, focused on executing and growing the business.

Jack said there will be almost a half a ZB by 2015 and ~80% of that will be unstructured data.  HDS firmly believes that much of this growing body of  data today lives in silos, locked into application environments and can’t become truly information until it can be liberated from this box.  Getting information out of the unstructured data is one of the key problems facing the IT industry.

To that end, Jack talked about the three clouds appearing on the horizon:

  • infrastructure cloud – cloud as we know and love it today where infrastructure services can be paid for on a per use basis, where data and applications move seemlessly across various infrastructural boundaries.
  • content cloud – this is somewhat new but here we take on the governance, analytics and management of the millions to billions pieces of content using the infrastructure cloud as a basic service.
  • information cloud – the end game, where any and all data streams can be analyzed in real time to provide information and insight to the business.

Jack mentioned the example of when Japan had their earthquake earlier this year they automatically stopped all the trains operating in the country to prevent further injury and accidents, until they could assess the extent of track damage.  Now this was a specialized example in a narrow vertical but the idea is that the information cloud does that sort of real-time analysis of data streaming in all the time.

For much of the rest of the day the executive team filled out the details that surrounded Jack’s talk.

For example Randy DeMont, Executive VP & GM Global Sales, Services and Support talked about the new, more focused sales team. On that has moved to concentrate on better opportunities and expanded to take on new verticals/new emerging markets.

Then Brian Householder, SVP WW Marketing and Business Development got up and talked about some of the key drivers to their growth:

  • Current economic climate has everyone doing more with less.  Hitachi VSP and storage virtualization is a unique position to be able to obtain more value out of current assets, not a rip and replace strategy.  With VSP one layers better management on top of your current infrastructure, that helps get more done with the same equipment.
  • Focus on the channel and verticals are starting to pay off.  More than 50% of HDS revenues now come from indirect channels.  Also, healthcare and life sciences are starting to emerge as a crucial vertical for HDS.
  • Scaleability of their storage solutions is significant. Used to be a PB was a good sized data center but these days we are starting to talk about multiple PBs and even much more.  I think earlier Jack mentioned that in the next couple of years HDS will see their first 1EB customer.

Mark Mike Gustafson,  SVP & GM NAS (former CEO BlueArc) got up and talked about the long and significant partnership between the two companies regarding their HNAS product.  He mentioned that ~30% of BlueArc’s revenue came from HDS.  He also talked about some of the verticals that BlueArc had done well in such as eDiscovery and Media and Entertainment.  Now these verticals will become new focus areas for HDS storage as well.

John Mansfield, SVP Global Solutions Strategy and Developmentcame up and talked about the successes they have had in the product arena.  Apparently they have over 2000 VSPs intsalled, (announced just a year ago), and over 50% of the new systems are going in with virtualization. When asked later what has led to the acceleration in virtualization adoption, the consensus view was that server virtualization and in general, doing more with less (storage efficiency) were driving increased use of this capability.

Hicham Abdessamad, SVP, Global Services got up and talked about what has been happening in the services end of the business.  Apparently there has been a serious shift in HDS services revenue stream from break fix over to professional services (PS).  Such service offerings now include taking over customer data center infrastructure and leasing it back to the customer at a monthly fee.   Hicham re-iterated that ~68% of all IT initiatives fail, while 44% of those that succeed are completed over time and/or over budget.  HDS is providing professional services to help turn this around.  His main problem is finding experienced personnel to help deliver these services.

After this there was a Q&A panel of John Mansfield’s team, Roberto Bassilio, VP Storage Platforms and Product Management, Sean Moser,  VP Software Products, and Scan Putegnat, VP File and Content Services, CME.  There were a number of questions one of which was on the floods in Thailand and their impact on HDS’s business.

Apparently, the flood problems are causing supply disruptions in the consumer end of the drive market and are not having serious repercussions for their enterprise customers. But they did mention that they were nudging customers to purchase the right form factor (LFF?) disk drives while the supply problems work themselves out.

Also, there was some indication that HDS would be going after more SSD and/or NAND flash capabilities similar to other major vendors in their space. But there was no clarification of when or exactly what they would be doing.

After lunch the GMs of all the Geographic regions around the globe got up and talked about how they were doing in their particular arena.

  • Jeff Henry, SVP &GM Americas talked about their success in the F500 and some of the emerging markets in Latin America.  In fact, they have been so successful in Brazil, they had to split the country into two regions.
  • Niels Svenningsen, SVP&GM EMAE talked about the emerging markets in his area of the globe, primarily eastern Europe, Russia and Africa. He mentioned that many believe Africa will be the next area to take off like Asia did in the last couple of decades of last century.  Apparently there are a Billion people in Africa today.
  • Kevin Eggleston, SVP&GM APAC, talked about the high rate of server and storage virtualization, the explosive growth and heavy adoption of Cloud pay as you go services. His major growth areas were India and China.

The rest of the afternoon was NDA presentations on future roadmap items.


All in all a good overview of HDS’s business over the past couple of quarters and their vision for tomorrow.  It was a long day and there was probably more than I could absorb in the time we had together.



1 on 1 auctions vs. person years of A/R time

1918 Farm Auction by dok1 (cc) (from Flickr)
1918 Farm Auction by dok1 (cc) (from Flickr)

I have had this conversation before (and have blogged about it with Crowdsourcing business analyst …) where there is lots of time and effort (person years?) devoted to scheduling one-on-one meetings between analyst firms and corporate executives. I may be repeating my earlier post but the problem persists and I see an obvious easier way to solve this.

Auction off 1 on 1 time slots

By doing this the company puts the burden on the analyst community by giving every  firm some amount of “analyst buck”s (A$) and then auction off executive meeting slots. In this way the crowd of analysts would determine who best to meet with whom (putting crowdsourcing to work).

Consider today’s solution:

  • Send out a list of topics to be discussed at the meeting,
  • Have the analyst firm select their top 3 or 5 topics, and
  • Have analyst relation’s sift the requests and executive availability to schedule the meetings.

For analyst events with 100s of analyst firms, 20 or more executives, and 10 or more time slots, the scheduling activity can become quite complex and time consuming.

I understand a corporation’s need to make the most effective use of analysts and executive management time, but what better way to make this determination than to let the (analyst) market decide.

How an executive 1 on 1 auction could work

The way I see it is to hold some sort of dutch or japanese auction (see wikipedia auction) where all the analyst firm representatives attended a webex session and bid for 1-1 time slots with various executives. In this fashion the company could have the whole schedule laid out in a single day with the only effort involved in identifying executives, time slots and supplying A$s to analyst firms.

It doesn’t even need to be that sophisticated and potentially could be done on eBay with real money supplied by the company (useable only for bidding in executive time slot auctions) and donated to charity when the process is finished.  There are any number of ways to do this on the quick and cheap.  However, using eBay may be a bit too public but doing this over a conference call with webex would probably suffice just as well and could be totally private.

Of course with this approach, the company may find that their are some executives that are in higher demand than others.  If such is the case, perhaps a secondary auction could be supplied with more time slots. Ditto for executives that have time slots that are not in demand – they could be released from providing time for 1 on 1 meetings.

In my prior post I mentioned the option that maybe the corporation might want more control over who meets who. In that case allocating some A$s to the corporate executives (or A/R as their proxy) to use to augment analyst firm bids might do the trick. Of course providing those firms more A$s would also give them preferential access. Obviously, this wouldn’t provide as much absolute control as spending person years of effort doing 1 on 1 scheduling but it would provide a quick and relatively easy solution to the problem from both the analyst firm as well as analyst relations.

But how much to grant to each analyst firm?

The critical question is the amount of A$’s to provide each firm.  This might take some thought but there is an easy solution. Just use last years analyst spend as the amount of A$s to provide the firm.  Another option is to provide some base level of analyst bucks to any firm invited to attend and then add more for the prior year spend.

Possibly, a less appealing approach (to me at least) is to give each analyst firm an amount proportional to their annual revenue regardless of company spending with the firm.  But perhaps some combination of the above, say

1/3 base amount for any invitee + 1/3 proportional to annual spend +1/3 proportional to annual firm revenue = A$s

would work.

In my previous post I suggested so many A$s per analyst. As such, bigger firms with more analysts would get more than firms with less analysts. But I feel the formula described above makes more sense to me.

Information provided to facilitate the 1 on 1’s auction

In order for the auction to work well, analyst firms would need to know more information about the executive whose time is being auctioned off.  But aside from that just a schedule of the time slots available would allow the auction to work. On the other hand, some idea of the company’s org chart and where the executive fit in would be very useful to facilitate the auction.


That’s it, pretty simple, set up a conference call, send out executive information and org chart, allocate analyst bucks and let the bidding begin.

Auctioning off Lot-132: 30 minutes of Ray Lucchesi’s time …, let the bidding begin.


Hitachi-HDS Strategy Sessions in Japan

Went to Tokyo at HDS’s expense this week and had a great time talking with Hitachi and HDS about their current and future product portfolio.

Gaggle of Analysts (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Gaggle of Analysts (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

Arrived Monday evening and went out for an informal dinner.  In the photo foreground one can see  John Webster (Evaluator Group), Andrew Reichman (Forrester Research), Richard Jew (HDS), and the back of Sean Moser (HDS).   In the background, Claus Egge, (Claus Egge), Laura DuBois and Nick Sundby (both from IDC).  We had a great Japanese dinner, close to the hotel.

Monday started off with a ride on Japan’s Bullet Train, the Shinkansen.  Some debate as to whether it went 300 or 500 Km/hour but it seemed fast enough and got us from our hotel near Tokyo’s Shinagawa station to Odawara in under an hour.  The train was quiet, comfortable and quick.

Shinkansen coming to a stop (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Shinkansen coming to a stop (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

In the picture at the station one can see Christophe Bertrand (HDS) and Tony Lock (Freeform Dynamics) as well as Laura and Nick (IDC) in the background.  Another picture of the Shinkansen from the return trip.

Shinkansen (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Shinkansen (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

Spent the day at Odawara Hitachi’s Customer Demo center listening to Hitachi RSD (hardware division) and HDS talk about the upcoming storage product plans.

Hitachi, the parent company of HDS, is into a lot of technology areas.  We talked briefly about some of these which included hard disk drives, server technology, and telecommunications equipment.  In addition to these info tech arenas, they provide MRIs, construction equipment, energy generation and other equipment.  The bullet trains we were using to get back and forth to the hotel were also manufactured by Hitachi.  It turns out information technology and hard disk drive technology represents just under 30% of Hitachi’s global revenue.

Platter data density history (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Platter data density history (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

They had an interesting historical study of storage technology there. Took some photos.  They also had on display just about every current Hitachi-HDS storage product currently sold as well as some of their prior storage systems.

They held discussions on upcoming products and other capabilities most of which was under NDA.  I and the other analysts had a chance to critique some of their plans with more feedback to come.

The second day was also spent in Odowara but at another facility, with the software division (responsible for HiCommand and other Hitachi software) discussing the next generation of HiCommand and other software functionality.  After lunch we got a chance to tour the factory premises.

Hitachi manufacturers all the PCBs (printed circuit boards) for all HDS storage products in Japan. I believe they said they were manufacturing 7500 PCBs a day across the PCB lines they operate here.  We walked through one PCB line as well as the final assembly and test area for VSP and AMS products. I was pretty impressed with what I saw.  We weren’t able to take many pictures here but I was allowed a few.

Hitachi's PCB line (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Hitachi's PCB line (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

I have seen a lot of assembly areas and test areas and this seemed to be far and away more sophisticated than most.  I have also seen my fair share of ESS (environmental stress screening chambers) but these looked more like waiting rooms than ESS chambers. Everyone looked busy but not to harried. I suppose had it been end of year rather than middle of quarter it might have looked different.

On the metro in Tokyo (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
On the metro in Tokyo (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

The last day was spent at Hitachi Central Research Lab (HCRL) in Tokyo. We had to take two Tokyo metro trains to get there. I thought we would have the metro train pushers to “compress” us into the train cars but apparently it just wasn’t that busy, so we were spared that “experience”.

Tokyo Metro Train Ride (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Tokyo Metro Train Ride (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

Nonetheless, the ride on the metro lines was fun, loud and crowded.  In the pictures on the platform one can See Michael Hay (Hitachi), Jason Knadler (HDS), Richard, Andrew, Tony and a few other analysts.  In the car, one can readily see Andrew, Nick and Sean. Also the back of Micky Sandorfi’s (HDS) head.  Had lot’s of “close bonding” on that trip.

Hitachi’s Central Research Lab (HCRL) was founded during WWII and has been doing fundamental and business sponsored research there ever since.  It seems like just about everyone we met there had a PhD after their name.  We were shown some of Hitachi’s advanced research in optical interconnects, next generation MRI, explosive’s detection, and other technologies.

One of the highlights of the day’s events though was the tour of the grounds. HCRL is in a campus-like setting with forested areas, hot springs and ponds to no doubt help the scientists invent the next big thing.  We were allowed to take pictures

Plum blossom on HCRL Grounds (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
Plum blossom on HCRL Grounds (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved

here and I have included a few of them.  In the plum blossom picture, Mr. IRIE Naohika who led the tour can be easily seen as well as the back of Rajnish Arora (IDC). I think one can see the back of Claus’s and Nick’s heads here as well as Ms. NAKAMURA Yuko.  In the other picture one can see Mr. MAEDA Yuki (HDS) who led most of the trip in Japan and was showing us the way to the lab, as well as bits of Sean, Micky, Rajnish and Tony.

At the entrance to HCRL grounds (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved
At the entrance to HCRL grounds (c) 2011 Silverton Consulting, All Rights Reserved


All in all I had a great trip. We learned a lot about Hitachi-HDS technology and upcoming products. Got to see Tokyo and had a wonderful time. Overall I thought the meetings were productive for both analysts and Hitach-HDS.

The only negative I would have to say was the mad dash through the Shinagawa station with Sean and Yuki to get me to the “Narita Express” train on time, but other than that it was lot’s of fun.

Crowdsourcing business analyst 1 on 1 scheduling with executives

Paris vs Pranksky - Lot 101 by Pranksky (cc) (from Flickr)
Paris vs Pranksky - Lot 101 by Pranksky (cc) (from Flickr)

Just got back from a conference with business analyst meetings and while there I talked with a number of analyst relations people in the audience about what it takes to pull these meeting together.  I was astounded by the effort that goes into setting up 1 on 1s for all the analysts.  In some cases, person weeks of effort goes into this scheduling nightmare.

I have a better answer, just crowdsource the process and let the analysts do all the work by auctioning off your executive meeting slots.  For example, give every analyst showing up a certain amount of analyst bucks (A$) and let them bid their A$’s for whichever executive(s) they want.  The winning bidders get to meet with the executives and the losers can take their money to the next auction.

I see this working as follows:

  • A company creates an auction website accessible to analysts registered for the meeting, with the executive names, bios, and pertinent areas of expertise/influence listed for everyone able to talk with analysts.  One may want to add the number of meeting slots and a minimum acceptable bid (if warranted).
  • The auction should have a duration or time window with which all bids would need to be in and at the end of which a “striking price” could be determined for each executive time slot.
  • While the auction is open, analysts would apportion their A$s to whichever executive(s) they wished to talk to, letting the analysts decide (do the work to determine) which they want to meet with.

Whether this could be done on eBay, some conference call/webex or other facility would need to be investigated.  If eBay were used, the proceeds from the auction could go to charity.

One problem with this approach is sometimes executives have to change their schedules at the last minute.  Thus, there would need to be some list of alternates for executives so that if the primary executive bowed out, an alternate could take their place.

Another potential issue is in how to apportion A$s to analyst firms or analysts.  Personally, I like a per attending analyst apportionment (one man/women, one vote sort of thing).  This way, larger firms with multiple analysts attending would have more A$s to use.  Although as a single person analyst firm I may be disadvantaged with this allotment, there is a possibility that I could syndicate with other  firms to build up our collective A$s, if necessary.

A follow-on question is whether to use the English, Dutch, or sealed-bid auction method (see wikipedia on auctions).  Personally, I think either the English or Dutch auction form would work fine and would provide adequate visibility.  However, the sealed-bid approach could make the process simpler for the company hosting the auction as it wouldn’t require much support other than some address to email the bids for the various executives.

Of course, this all assumes that the purpose of the analyst 1 on 1 meetings is to have executives meet with analysts. But alternatively, another purpose may be to have executives influence particular analysts.  In this case, the auction could be reversed and have the executive team bid on meetings with the analysts.

On the other hand, a combination of the two approaches could be done by supplying both the analysts and executives some A$s and have each submit bids for the other. The total combined A$ value from the executives and the analyst (firms) would decide how their time slots are allocated.  This may not be optimal from either the analyst or the executive perspective, but it would cross-optimize both sides for meeting slots.

Well there you have it, crowdsourcing/auctioning meeting slots, my solution to the problem of scheduling 1 on 1’s for company analyst meetings.

Auctioning off Lot-102, 30 minute meeting with Silverton Consulting/Ray Lucchesi, do I hear any bids?