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Japan, a country of cultures and so seems Hitachi


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We were invited to go to Japan last week to attend Hitachi’s uValue convention in Tokyo for 4 days.

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The Japanese culture is different, very different, but very interesting. No handshakes, you have to bow to people, respected people are called with –San or –Sama after their last names, delicacy food, hot & humid weather, the workplace pride, the dedication to their job, a very hardworking society, very modest, humble and honestly one of the best hosts, these were just some observations.

Things are different, very different…………..…and in middle of that you got a company called HDS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Japan that is located in the US. All HDS executives are from the US, while practically everyone on Hitachi’s Executive team is from Japan.

Does it mean, A clash of cultures? Absolutely not……. we rather felt the other way around. The new Executive team within HDS is establishing great relations with their counterparts in Hitachi Japan, enabling a lot of HDS decisions being made locally.

Hitachi CEO, Nakanishi-San went through an hour of speech to the attendees at the uValue convention, there were 50K attendees, out of which 10K were at his speech. He went through the last 100 years of Hitachi innovation and set the stage for the next 10 years of focus.

Hitachi is truly a part of the Japanese culture, as you land at Narita Airport in Tokyo and go through escalators and elevators, you will notice the Hitachi brand. From making the first battery in Japan to making fans, turbines, refrigerators, trains, televisions, they made it all and they still make it all. Talk about IT floors in datacenters, Hitachi is always found in form of Symphony Servers or USPV Storage or Hitachi networking. Every major place you walk into, you will atleast see a thing or two made by Hitachi.

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First Hitachi Product Ever

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A Battery

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A Turbine?

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FAN

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Telegraph

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Disk Drive

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So far I thought Hitachi Japan made great storage technology and its US wing HDS marketed it. But after seeing the interaction last week, my opinions about the whole relationship between Hitachi Japan and HDS have now changed. HDS seems to help Hitachi Japan with a lot of strategic direction in terms of products and services.

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Some More details

Both Hitachi and HDS have been great hosts to the bloggers and the analyst invited to this event. All the way from making sure the logistics of the trip including flights, food, travel, events and local trips were very well organized.

Attendees included (Bloggers): (FRONT – Left to Right) Myself, Robin Harris, Nigel Poulton, (BACK – Left to Right) Chris Evans, Greg Knieriemen, Rick Vanover.

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Some activities included

Sunday – Monday: Flying for the better part of the day and losing another 13 hours going there….. pretty much left with only Monday evening for dinner with HDS folks.

Tuesday: Visited Hitachi RSD facilities in Odawara (a suburb of Tokyo). Took the Bullet Train to cover this 70 mile trip, in about 15/20 mins. This train was amazing, the top speed varies upto 200 miles/hour.

The Bullet Train, made by Hitachi

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Spend the entire day talking about some NDA stuff. It was very interesting, very interesting guys that work on these sophisticated projects. Went out to dinner with Hitachi executives that night and enjoyed some of the finest food in the world with a 7 course dinner and 6 different wines and sake.

Wednesday: Spend pretty much half a day talking to HDS about some strategy, some really creative discussions about technology and marketing.

Spend the rest of the day in Akihabara, which is the electronics district of Tokyo. Imagine a geek store, here there were hundred’s of them, from small shops to mega stores selling just electronic items.

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Nigel Poulton

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Rick Vanover, Chris Evans

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Met up with some other HDS folks (Professional Services and Managed Services) that evening who were visiting Hitachi Japan from the US. It was great to connect with them.

Thursday: Early morning left for the #uValue convention. Great Place, you can catch some of those pictures on the Facebook page, here.

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Hearing the CEO of Hitachi and then Iwata-San in a private meeting with the Press, Bloggers and Analyst, topics were around Hitachi’s strategy about IT and Telecommunications. Attended the Michael Hay session on Hitachi Research Strategy and then headed out for dinner. It was absolutely impressive to see the Convention floor with Hitachi Technologies and then hear about some of the strategy behind it.

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Hitachi CEO - Nakanishi-San

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Hitachi Executive for IT, Telecommunications, Iwata-San

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Hitachi Robot at uValue Convention: EMIEW from storagenerve on Vimeo.

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Then was dinner that night in Roppongi, a suburb of Tokyo (it’s the night life district of Tokyo). Had a great time with Hitachi executives from Communication and Engineering both joining with us for dinner.

Then we were given a tour of the 10th tallest building in Japan called the Roppongi Hills, at the 52nd floor lobby overlooking Tokyo. We had a great time there. After a long and tiring day, sit at the 52nd floor overlooking Tokyo and having a glass of beer, a great feeling.

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The Gang: Bloggers and Hitachi (Meade-San from HDS Japan and Cecilia Fok from HDS Hong Kong)

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Another interesting fact: The Dinner table every night had a sitting scheme, where every person was assigned a chair/seat and that created a nice mix of environments where on each table there would be a blogger, analyst, HDS and Hitachi person. Quite enjoyable to hear different perspective of things.

Friday: It was the day we were all leaving. Finished up some early AM shopping and headed to the airport for a long 24 hour bus, plane, train, plane and car journey back home via Houston.

Uneventful trip back home….

I will end with this; the Japanese know how to take care of their guest. Culturally Japan seems to be a very strong country, Hitachi is a large part of that culture. Syyonara for now….

Thanks Hitachi and HDS for inviting and making us feel part of the family..

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Cheers
@storagenerve

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Disclaimer: The 4 day trip to Hitachi Japan to attend the uValue Convention is sponsored by HDS. They paid for all travel, boarding and lodging expenses for these days. The attendees / bloggers are not required to Blog about this event. This is my attempt to share what we learned there.

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  • Thomas Jones

    Great post. I never knew HDS was such a massive corporation. Do you think that doing everything from Trains to Storage doesn't allow them to allocate resources to the competitive storage market? Thus the reason why they are “just” getting started in their transparency journey while the competition has been in social media for years.

  • http://storagenerve.com storagenerve

    Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for the Comment…

    So i find things very interesting with Hitachi not really HDS. They are great engineers, but they find a hard time to brag about it. The storage virtualization came out in 2005, it took 3 years for customers to start accepting that, but it took them 2 years to design this solution (estimate), which means they have been thinking about storage virtualization for the past 7 years…that is pretty amazing when you think about some of the competition that is just doing it or customers are just starting to implement it.

    But they have so much leverage in that market place, they sell a ton of products in Japan but not here. They make their own switches along with NEC, another big surprise for me, because you never see it in the US.

    All together, its just a massive company with amazing revenue, they are sort of a GE of the US, but they are also in IT space, which GE typically is not the US making storage or servers.

    HDS is practically doing quite a bit of product selling and the face of Hitachi Storage. HDS has been ran by folks from Japan for a while but now the new management is making big time changes and they are pretty visible in the market space now.

    I think the next few years are very strategic for HDS, if they manage to gain market share in these technologies.

    THEY NEED TO BRAG…..and DELIVER on what they promise and AGAIN BRAG about the delivery….the messaging needs to be strong strong strong….

  • http://storagenerve.com storagenerve

    Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for the Comment…

    So i find things very interesting with Hitachi not really HDS. They are great engineers, but they find a hard time to brag about it. The storage virtualization came out in 2005, it took 3 years for customers to start accepting that, but it took them 2 years to design this solution (estimate), which means they have been thinking about storage virtualization for the past 7 years…that is pretty amazing when you think about some of the competition that is just doing it or customers are just starting to implement it.

    But they have so much leverage in that market place, they sell a ton of products in Japan but not here. They make their own switches along with NEC, another big surprise for me, because you never see it in the US.

    All together, its just a massive company with amazing revenue, they are sort of a GE of the US, but they are also in IT space, which GE typically is not the US making storage or servers.

    HDS is practically doing quite a bit of product selling and the face of Hitachi Storage. HDS has been ran by folks from Japan for a while but now the new management is making big time changes and they are pretty visible in the market space now.

    I think the next few years are very strategic for HDS, if they manage to gain market share in these technologies.

    THEY NEED TO BRAG…..and DELIVER on what they promise and AGAIN BRAG about the delivery….the messaging needs to be strong strong strong….

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