Hitachi has been said to practice passive — even stealth — marketing. Whatever you call the company’s approach to self-promotion, you’d probably agree that it tends to hide its light under a bushel, at least here in North America, where the company tends to be perceived as an industry afterthought.
That’s why I don’t feel particularly bad about my abject ignorance of Hitachi’s portfolio of networking products, produced through a joint venture with NEC called Alaxala Networks Corporation. Apparently, according to information on Alaxala’s website, Hitachi owns 60 percent of the company and NEC holds the remaining 40 percent.
I was not alone in being in the dark about Hitachi’s status as a purveyor of network infrastructure. Considering that some of Hitachi’s own employees don’t seem to know about this arrangement, I am in relatively good company.
It’s obvious that Hitachi, despite the existence of Alaxala, hasn’t vaulted to the top of the enterprise-networking charts in North America, or in most other parts of the world.
Still, Alaxala could be an important ingredient in Hitachi’s answer to Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) and to HP’s aptly named HP Converged Infrastructure.
Hitachi’s rejoinder to Cisco and HP’s offerings is called the Unified Compute Platform (UCP). It isn’t on the market yet, but it will be released early next year. It will comprise blade servers, storage and network hardware, plus management and orchestration software. Microsoft’s System Center is in the mix, too, as are Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization technology and and SQL Server. VMware’s ESX hypervisors also will be supported.
One of the missing pieces is fibre-channel storage networking, but Hitachi representatives, in conversations with technology blogger Nigel Poulton, intimated that the company “might be working” on fibre channel. Then again, as Poulton cautions, that conversation involved significant language barriers, so meaning might have been lost or misconstrued in translation.
As it turns out, the Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V is a key component of the Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP). In that context, it is worth noting that Hitachi already has an existing relationship with Brocade. That relationship involves Brocade providing extensive SAN-switching support for Hitachi’s Universal Storage Platform V.
I think you can see where I’m going here. I’m not the subtlest of characters. There’s a very real possibility that Brocade will be involved with Hitachi’s UCP initiative. To what extent, whether the relationship might be restricted to Brocade’s SAN gear or might also include its Foundry Ethernet switches, remains to be seen.
It’s a relationship worth watching.