3PAR Hits Up Hitachi

In bed with the enemy? Hitachi's Japanese semiconductor unit buys a storage system from 3PAR

June 11, 2003

2 Min Read
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Companies in the business of selling storage systems tend to know exactly what theyre looking for to meet their own storage needs. In the case of a division of Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA), its dream setup just happened to come from another vendor: 3PAR Inc. (see Hitachi Unit Installs 3PAR Storage).

Utility storage startup 3PAR boasted today that Hitachi ULSI Systems Co. Ltd., a semiconductor components division of Hitachi, has purchased and installed its largest storage platform, the 3PAR InServ Storage Server S800.

"They’re obviously very savvy storage buyers," explains Craig Nunes, 3PAR’s senior director of marketing [ed. note: with a wink and a nudge]. "This is just a great proof-point... And we love the irony in it as well."

Ironic, indeed. The two companies may use fundamentally different architectures for their storage systems -- Hitachi’s 9900 series design is cache-centric, while 3PAR’s S800 is a clustered distributed storage system -- but they go after the same market for open systems environments.

Hitachi, however, insists that this is no big deal. "I can't believe you're doing a story on this insignificant issue," says Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) spokeswoman Jodi Reinman [ed. note: no relation to the colorful Joey Reiman], pointing out that Hitachi is a huge company with many divisions, each with their own priorities. "It is common practice that different divisions purchase products from other companies... We don't see how this could be newsworthy at all."Reinman adds that whereas 3PAR has sold around 20 systems total to date, Hitachi sells around 20 per day (see 3PAR Sells 20 Systems).

According to 3PAR, however, the deal shows that its technology is superior to Hitachi's own storage. Hitachi ULSI needed a new, highly scaleable, flexible storage system to tackle major new chip development programs, and chose the most appropriate technology for the task, according to 3PAR. "They were very interested in being able to scale," Nunes says, hopeful that Hitachi will ULSI buy more of its storage down the road.

According to industry analysts, however, another scenario may be more likely. "It’s very common for a storage vendor to buy a storage system from a competitor," says Randy Kerns, an analyst with the Evaluator Group, adding that the deals are usually kept more quiet than this one. "I think it’s prudent to always know what the competition’s products are."

It may be standard business practice, but it comes at a price. While a well-configured S800 platform in the U.S. runs on average at between $200,000 and $300,000 apiece, Nunes says Hitachi ULSI paid more than that for its storage. "In Japan, prices are a little more inflated," he says.

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Byte and Switch

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