Catching up with Hitachi Vantara after strategic overhaul

Five months ago Hitachi Vantara was reorganized with a spun-off services unit, new direction, and new CEO. What has happened since then?

Hitachi Vantara was the US-based storage and IT Infrastructure subsidiary of the Hitachi Group and now describes itself as the data storage, infrastructure, and hybrid cloud management subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. It always has produced storage systems, but added a Hitachi Consulting business in 2019 with a Lumada Internet of Things focus. This structure was re-examined when Sheila Rohra was appointed chief business strategy officer in February 2023.

Sheila Rohra, Hitachi Vantara
Sheila Rohra

Her previous role was as HPE’s SVP and GM of its Data Infrastructure business, joining HPE in August 2021 after a ten-year stint at NetApp culminating in an SVP customer success position. Five months after joining Hitachi Vantara, Rohra was promoted to president of its Data Infrastructure business. Three months later she was yanked up again to the Hitachi Vantara CEO spot,  the Hitachi Digital Services business was set up as a separate operation, and all the storage products are being brought together under a hybrid VSP (Virtual Storage Platform) One brand.

We can surmise this was all, or partly, a result of her business strategy work. On being appointed CEO, she blogged: “Hitachi Ltd announced a bold organizational move to realign and focus Hitachi Vantara on what it does best – design, develop, and deliver advanced data infrastructure solutions that enable businesses to innovate and scale by leveraging emerging technologies.”

She defined her role as “advancing our strong storage capabilities to deliver data infrastructure solutions that can address a wide spectrum of customer needs by providing the data foundation for innovation. Virtual Storage Platform One is only the beginning. We will build and expand into the broader hybrid cloud and data management space with an emerging portfolio of next-generation infrastructure solutions, that are enabled by AI to give customers the kind of advanced accessibility, availability, performance, and management of their data that only Hitachi Vantara can provide.”

There have been some exec hires since then:

  • CFO Tony Gonella – December 2023. Prior CFO, Inigo Mazquiaran, recently transitioned within the Hitachi Group to assume the role of CFO in the newly formed Hitachi Digital Services organization. Gonella has Palo Alto and NetApp in his CV.
  • Senior director of services and delivery, Hitachi Vantara Federal Joe Corcoran – January 2024.
  • Chief product officer Octavian Tanese – January 2024, from NetApp, who said: “My goal is to help the company expand its leadership position by harnessing the power of generative AI and other emerging technologies to drive even greater innovation in its portfolio.”
  • Chief technology officer Ayman Abouelwafa – February 2024, from HPE. Replaces CMO Monica Kumar, who went to Extreme Networks in December 2023.
  • Country managing director for Singapore Kevin Wong – February 2024.

A couple of partnerships have been announced:

  • Hitachi Vantara partnered with Quobyte for HPC file storage in November 2023.
  • Hitachi Vantara and Cisco signed a managed hybrid cloud deal in January 2024.
Octavian Tanese, Hitachi Vantara
Octavian Tanese

Tanese was NetApp’s SVP of Hybrid Cloud Engineering and SVP for ONTAP before that, being a 14-year NetApp veteran, with Oracle and Sun engineering development roles prior.

NetApp has its central ONTAP file+block software and hardware arrays, with adjacent StorageGRID object storage. It also has a strong presence for ONTAP in the three main public clouds and a BlueXP cloud data management facility.

He’ll now be unifying Hitachi Vantara’s disparate storage products – block, file, object, mainframe, Pentaho Data ops – under the VSP brand and building up a stronger public cloud presence and subscription service to take on Dell’s APEX and HPE’s GreenLake.

His on-premises storage product competitors are varied and strong, including Dell, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Infinidat, NetApp, Pure Storage, and VAST Data. We might expect the first product announcements under Tanese’s tenure later this year. They’ll be keenly watched to see where he’s taking Hitachi Vantara’s storage technology.