View This Article in BOSS Magazine
Manufacturers and others in heavy industry are beginning to adopt IoT technology. Although there’s still a ways to go, companies are deploying more and more IoT sensors to collect data and make important business decisions in real time.
But technology is on another edge of revolution. As the amount of collected data continues to increase, organizations need smarter, easier-to-use platforms to store and process data, closer to where the data is created.
Enter Hitachi Vantara.
The name should sound familiar: Hitachi has had its hand in manufacturing since Namihei Odaira founded the company in 1910 in Japan. Today the company—known for its innovations and advancements to all kinds of machinery from tractors and mining equipment to rail systems and power plants—ranks at number seven on the Fortune Global 500 list. If it’s a machine, there’s a pretty good chance Hitachi was involved in its creation or evolution.
Hitachi Vantara is one of several companies under the Hitachi umbrella, created to help its customers make the most of their data. With nearly every company in every industry thinking about digital transformation, Hitachi Vantara is filling a gap in a field with intense competition.
The company doesn’t only provide solutions from an IT perspective—there are hundreds of other brands that already offer that.
“What makes Hitachi so different is that we have over 100 years of operations technology experience. We have been in the industrial sector for over a century. Whether it’s utilities, transport, mining, power generation, manufacturing, you name it, Hitachi has been in it,” said Navaid Khan, Hitachi Vantara’s CTO of Telco/CME for the Americas.
Khan has contributed to the networking industry—from telco and data center to enterprise for over 20 years. The background he developed through his time at BT, Ericsson, Agilent, and Tellabs focuses around Operational Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS), and includes a thorough understanding of how enterprise application solutions work in CSPs.
The Creation of Hitachi Vantara
Hitachi Vantara is the combination of a handful of different brands, some already part of Hitachi, and others, acquisitions. When Hitachi Insight Group, Hitachi Data Systems, and Pentaho came together in September of 2017, shareholders knew that big things were on the horizon.
Hitachi Data Systems—a subsidiary of Hitachi—brought expertise in hardware and software for companies’ management of their digital data. Many of its products, ranging from its Unified Storage to its Content Platform, are successful solutions for Hitachi Vantara today.
Hitachi formed Hitachi Insight Group in 2016 to drive the company’s unified Internet of Things business and go-to-market strategy worldwide.
But Pentaho, a business intelligence software company that offered open-source products providing data integration, reporting, information dashboards, data mining and extraction, among other capabilities, affords Hitachi Vantara a bigger customer base and a whole slew of new and complementary products.
“The synergy and power of these combined entities help Hitachi build a true portfolio to focus on creating breakthrough innovation,” said Russell Skingsley, VP and CTO of APAC, Hitachi Vantara.
The Purpose of Hitachi
The Hitachi Vantara customer list is long: many of the world’s biggest companies—from banking, enterprise, telcos, retail, insurance, the federal government, pharma, to oil and gas—rely on an IT storage infrastructure solution from Hitachi.
It’s the company’s mission, therefore, to guide its customers’ businesses through digital transformations to become more productive, efficient, and competitive. By doing this, Hitachi’s customers can provide more value for its own customers.
The purpose of Hitachi Vantara, therefore, is to pivot from being an expert in strictly OT solutions to offering a combination of OT and IT innovations, and is doing so with an industry-leading partner, Juniper Networks.
“At the highest level with these combined entities, we want to become a digital company that solves business and societal challenges for the world,” Khan commented. “Hitachi Vantara is providing real solutions for customers to gain an advantage in efficiency and productivity, so that these companies can pass the advantages down to their customers. We want to help more organizations become digital.
“We have the know-how, the infrastructure, and the expertise to help organizations successfully transform their businesses.”
There’s an increasingly important need for companies to address their digitization strategies. As companies and their marketplaces become more complex, systems that can do more and collaborate between different divisions and locations become priority number one.
Breaking down silos, therefore, becomes an integral part of any digital strategy.
“Silos can be the effect of mergers and acquisitions, of legacy systems, of rapidly growing companies—there are many ways silos get created,” said Khan. “Businesses need tools that can ingest data from any location and any database, where hundreds of steps are automated, that can create workflows, and orchestrate better and faster business decisions in one place.”
“We often find ourselves in a position of helping companies break down silos of systems and data to find correlation and commonality in data that had been segregated, for the most part, for many years,” shared Skingsley.
The challenges are numerous and range from how to make the right decisions on where edge deployments should be favored over core deployment to dealing with ever increasing amounts of data and understanding how to balance the need for storing long-lived data cost effectively with the need for high-speed processing.
In addition, many of the company’s customers know IoT is likely to yield benefits but lack the combined expertise in operational and information technology to make sensible decisions about using IoT to its best advantage.
In the EMEA market specifically, regulation and compliance loom large over companies looking to digitize.
“Full enterprise optimization and digital transformation are top priorities in most European companies,” shared Felipe Padilla Gomez, CTO, for EMEA markets at Hitachi Vantara. “But GDPR Compliance is a big trend in Europe, as companies must comply with the European regulation for data privacy.”
Solutions from Hitachi Vantara
Luckily for these companies all over the world, Hitachi Vantara brings a portfolio of digital solutions in the shape of highly reliable and scalable compute, storage, and content platforms, as well as cloud technologies; advanced analytics/IoT software platforms; and enterprise IT architecture and data science expertise. And that’s just the beginning.
“We do a tremendous amount of business around managed services to customers,” Khan said. “We’re increasingly providing more solution-oriented offerings. We’re making solutions more consumable—less rigid in how they get delivered—so our customers can have more control of their data.”
When combined, those capabilities help enterprises in their digital transformation journeys to realize the benefits that analytics and IoT technologies provide to improve business operations.
Not everyone needs a full horizontal IoT platform for their IoT use cases. Some are after better data integration and easily implemented analytics platforms. This is where Hitachi’s Pentaho data integration suite comes into play.
Its big data integration, analytics, orchestration, and visualization platform enables enterprises to get the benefits of big data analytics faster and with lower risk. It’s an easy-to-deploy-and-use platform that avoids the need to have multiple tools to get an end-to-end analytics data pipeline from ingestion, preparation, and analysis to consumption.
“The Pentaho portfolio specifically targets the breakdown of data silos,” Khan shared. “The company Pentaho has been doing this for over a decade before it became part of Hitachi Vantara.
“Pentaho breaks down your silos and blends, wrangles, correlates, enables machine learning and orchestration and creates insights from your business’s data. It’s the glue that enables and connects all of your systems. It brings simplicity in one tool.”
Caterpillar, the construction machinery and equipment company, experienced the simplification Pentaho provides firsthand.
The company wanted to help its customers, ship fleet owners specifically, optimize fuel costs and minimize unscheduled downtime. But the organization had no automated data integrity processes when it came to integrating data from sensors or other data formats.
Pentaho’s seamless integration, scalability, and fast time to market helped Cat determine the most efficient way to power its generators, saving one customer with a fleet of 50 ships over $650,000 in a year. It also pointed out an oversight that was causing $1.3 million per vessel in lost fuel efficiency every two years. By scheduling hull cleanings every two years, Cat saved $800,000 per ship.
Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oil field service companies, wanted to provide value for faster and better decision making. But IoT applications can get complex quickly, and there was a lack of real-time support from existing and emerging data sources.
Through predictive maintenance, Pentaho’s embedded business analytics and enterprise class platform improved pump safety and prevented spills. This resulted in 60 to 80 percent less cost, and two to four times faster development for the company.
Lumada, Hitachi’s IoT platform, provides out-of-the-box templates and analytics capabilities to enable rapid development of end-to-end vertical industrial IoT solutions, such as predictive maintenance for heavy assets. The whole objective is to help industrials and enterprise companies obtain the benefits of IoT faster and with less risk.
The platform was announced in May 2016 during the creation of the Hitachi Insight Group. Like Pentaho, it was brought over once Hitachi created Hitachi Vantara.
It’s designed to run anywhere—on any cloud, on-premises, hybrid, Hyper-V, or VMware—and since its inception, has gained a lot of press.
“We’re focused on building on top of what we’ve been doing in infrastructure. By partnering with industry leaders like Red Hat and other open-source platforms, we’ve created a united compute platform composed of virtualization. The evolution of this means that customers can use and consume data in a hybrid fashion.”
It’s a platform designed from the ground up to help companies take advantage of large numbers of highly connected data, to receive data streams from them, and provide operational insights. One of the features of its architecture is that it can be instantiated on premise or in the cloud, allowing Hitachi Vantara customers to make the choice of deployment models and data sovereignty as they see fit.
“The purpose of this IoT platform is to illuminate data,” Khan pointed out. “There are a lot of platforms in the industry—something like 450 other IoT platforms—that do this. What makes us different, however, is the OT expertise, which we have built into the platform.”
“Lumada, our IoT platform, provides out-of-the-box templates and analytics capabilities to enable rapid development of end-to-end vertical Industrial IoT solutions such as predictive maintenance for heavy assets. The whole objective is to help industrials and enterprise companies to obtain the benefits of IoT faster and with less risk,” Felipe shared.
When a global manufacturer wanted a solution to improve its production process to achieve accurate, on-time delivery for all orders and improved performance through IT and OT integration, Lumada provided the solution.
The platform was able to optimize production schedules, deliver real-time insight to the shop floor, and implement countermeasures if process delays occurred.
Since implementing Lumada, the manufacturer has reduced its inventory of industrial control panels by 14 percent. Even more impressive, the company has reduced overall costs by 30 percent and shortened lead time of major products by 50 percent.
Living on the Edge
The determining factor in nearly all its customers’ choices to go with a Hitachi Vantara product is the company’s ability to manage both OT and IT needs. As IoT continues to proliferate, we’ll see more companies—outside of manufacturing and heavy industries—address a heavy IoT strategy.
The number of enterprise IoT devices is expected to reach 8 billion by 2020, which in turn will generate an incredible amount of data. This should lead to more efficiency, productivity, lower costs, more uptime, and a thousand other positive business interactions.
However, the ability to store and move this data is starting to become a problem. On top of the exponential increase in IoT devices, the amount of traffic running through cloud computing networks is expected to increase to 14.1 zettabytes—or trillion gigabytes—by 2020. That means it could take longer to process and analyze captured data. And the cloud, while the perfect solution for now, can be cost prohibitive when storing this much data.
So what’s the solution? Big brands are betting big bucks on edge computing. It’s a method of optimizing cloud computing systems by performing data processing at the edge of the network, near the source of the data.
Edge computing can provide new possibilities for IoT applications, from reducing the amount of data transmitted and stored in the cloud and reducing lag time on data transmission, to potentially improving security and privacy by keeping sensitive data within the device instead of supplemental storage.
With the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Telefonica, and others investing in edge computing, Hitachi Vantara has partnered with Juniper Networks to set its own path in this still growing marketplace.
A Partnership Made on the Edge
Telcos are investing billions of dollars in their networks, upgrading the networks, deploying fiber to the cities, and densifying and rolling out more capacity towards the edge. These investments are the foundation for 5G, which will usher in many new use cases including connected cars and AR/VR, to name a few.
“As cities become smarter, they are going to have thousands of IoT sensors that all need to send data somewhere,” Khan said. “We need data centers at the edge, close to the source of the data, in these more densely populated cities so data doesn’t have as long of a distance to go.”
That’s where Juniper Networks comes in. The company offers high-performance network solutions to help providers, enterprises, and the public sector create value for customers. The world’s biggest and busiest wired and wireless carriers, cable and satellite operators, content and internet service providers, and cloud and data center providers run on Juniper Networks.
“Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions, and services that transform the economics of networking,” said Fred Lindell, Head of Global Strategic Alliance in Telecom & IoT at Juniper.
“Our team co-innovates with our customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable, and secure networks with agility, performance, and value. If your business depends on the network to deliver mission-critical transactions, applications, and services, you do business with Juniper Networks.”
Lindell broke it down further.
“Say you have AT&T, and you want to search something on your smartphone. Google talks to a base station where that specific data is kept and looks for the answer, meaning bites need to be moved through fiber from your phone to where the data is stored, and then back. We facilitate that transaction.”
Solving the Big Problems
It’s rare to find two companies that have zero product overlap and where synergies are so clear. Hitachi Vantara brings a 100-plus year legacy of working on the toughest problems in the world’s largest industries and have succeeded by engineering solutions that solve real issues. Juniper builds the networks for cloud and telco providers, which will ultimately connect users with data, data with intelligence, and intelligence with outcomes.
“We started working with Juniper Networks in the early stages of product development. They’re focused on the network side, we handle everything else,” Kahn said.
“As we are pivoting to become a company focused on digital solutions, and in the midsts of the IoT phenomenon, Juniper Networks sees us as a strategic partner to bring them into IoT.”
The partnership combines the best of both worlds: Juniper’s heritage in physical and virtual telco-grade solutions with Hitachi’s singular position in OT and IT.
Hitachi Vantara has integrated Juniper’s solutions into its lineup of Hitachi Unified Compute Platform and Hitachi Content Platform storage and computer solutions.
“If you look towards 5G and IoT you quickly see that the transport layer becomes key, where computers might move from the far to the deep core, and workloads are distributed across a wide range of physical, virtual, or container instances,” said Lindell.
Juniper’s software-defined networking solution, Contrail, is a central component in Hitachi’s telco offerings, fully enabling Hitachi Vantara to address the complex virtualized network function market, which both Tier-1 and Tier-2 service providers are quickly moving towards.
Juniper also provides telco-grade solutions in physical and virtual networking and security to support Hitachi’s position from the depth of the DC core to the far reaches of mobile edge computing deployments.
This establishes a foundation for 5G and IoT deployments, where Hitachi can provide further benefits with their AI and analytics suites like Pentaho and Lumada.
A Flourishing Partnership
Juniper Networks has been working with Hitachi Vantara for about a year now. Expect to see this partnership grow, and perhaps even dominate, in the IoT, edge-computing space.
“I love the similar cultures our two companies have,” said Lindell. “In a meeting of the minds and hearts, it’s incredible to find a partner where things come together so naturally.”
This is the heart of Hitachi Vantara. The company’s willingness and ability to work so closely with its partners—be it vendors or its customers—is the true reason behind the company’s success.
“We want to help our customers achieve that business transformation. We want to be a partner, to be a part of the co-creation process. It’s the core way to make innovation happen,” Khan said. “We help them reach the outcomes they want to achieve. We help make our customers successful. And it all starts with data.”