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HDS's Hard-Wired Vision

Over the past few years, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) clawed its way to being one of the leaders in the high-end RAID array business by building enormous, powerful systems that chewed up and spit out competing boxes.

But the world has changed around HDS. Software and services are becoming critical pieces of the puzzle in winning business. And because HDS's focus is still on building bigger-and-faster storage hardware, it's in serious danger of slipping behind its more well-rounded competitors, such as EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

Let's take software first. What, exactly, is HDS's storage software strategy? Well, it provides array-based software like its competitors. But beyond that, it's not at all clear where HDS thinks it should go.

In an interview about a year ago, HDS president and COO Dave Roberson boasted that Hitachi had committed $500 million to software engineering over the next three years. But he also told us that HDS doesn't "want to reinvent technology that other companies have already brought to market. There's no point for me to do that, because it's just a waste of my R&D dollars. So we're happy to collaborate with Veritas, with IBM with whoever is out there we need to collaborate with – because we're going to build these industry-standard solutions." (See our interview with Roberson here.)

Since then, the lack of much action on this front by HDS shows that Roberson has passed on trying to develop the company into a more serious storage software player.

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