Christian Heiter is the Chief Technology Officer for Hitachi Data Systems Federal Corporation (HDSFed), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Data Systems. The company was formed almost three years ago to facilitate a closer working relationship with government partners, according to Heiter. He spoke to ITWatchIT regarding some of HDSFed’s growth experience, leveraging higher-end technology, capabilities and collaboration with sister companies in Hitachi, Ltd. to provide a richer experience for clients.
Hitachi is a Japanese-owned company which has been in existence for twenty years. HDSFed spun off from that company to focus on the U.S. federal government. Now there is a separation with a board comprised of US citizens, which makes it more comfortable for the United Sates federal government to buy from us. Hitachi Data Systems is the parent company, and provides IT infrastructure, software, technology, solutions and other services that allow the community – whether federal government or commercial – to use technology more effectively for managing their solutions, and for solving problems their customers may experience.
Hitachi Data Systems
Hitachi Data Systems is owned by Hitachi Limited, which has over 900 companies. We do everything from power tools, which you may have seen at Home Depot and Lowes, to Hitachi trains, escalators, excavators, big construction equipment and chemicals – to name a few. Twenty five percent of all cars in the United Sates have Hitachi components. Clarion Radio, a Hitachi company, makes radios, entertainment systems and navigation control systems for many car manufacturers.
HDSFed is focused on IT and solving customers’ problems. This goes beyond the scope of just servers, storage and networking. We have partners that do these things really well, such as Brocade, World Wide Technologies, Integration Partners and Avaya. They can help put pieces together and support these agencies, wherever they are comfortable, and wherever they have a relationship with the customers. We provide the components to allow them build a higher level of solutions. We recently completed the purchase of Pentaho (a company that offers data integration and business analytics), so now it’s not just servers and storage, management utilities and infrastructure, we can also do analytics.
Analytics helps us solve new classes of problems for our customers. It all comes down to putting all the pieces together. They can take all of this data that we can manage so effectively and really move up to the next level. We provide the tools, techniques and capabilities for people in the federal space to make better data-driven decisions on smart cities, public safety and so on, and to capitalize on the information that they have. They have the information, now they can be smarter about using it by tying pieces of information together, whether it be the IRS, Department of Defense or others.
We are also going into the area of video surveillance, we have our public safety group and we are working on public safety in smart cities. Using the tools we have, such as storage, management and analytics, we can virtualize technology and help our customers save money.
Hitachi Ltd., A Plus
With all of the companies in the portfolio of Hitachi Ltd., we have access to a broad range of information, technologies and capabilities. Assuming a customer has a problem with a particular sensor which uses a calibration utility, we could most likely have expertise in other companies for that micromachine. We know how to build it, we understand it, and we apply this to help you solve problems so you can capitalize on that.
We have Hitachi Consulting, and they provide the consulting services. They understand the business processes, and we can provide those kinds of capabilities through them. Are we good enough at that at the federal level? We know enough about that, which is why we have a sister company in the form of Hitachi Consulting that understands the business processes more than we do. We are good at asking questions, but they really understand better because their whole practice is set up in that area. We have those capabilities with all of our companies to bring something very interesting and put that in front of our customers.
Internet of Things
Internet of things has a very broad range, and one area is video surveillance. We now have that capability under our Public Safety Sector that we created in Hitachi Data Systems. We are bringing video data, image data, sensor data – whether it is gunshot detection, license plate readers, vibration sensors to protect facilities – we bring all of this information in one place to make it easier to manage the information. It is geolocated to allow customers make better use of the information that is coming in.
We have other initiatives around smart cities. How can we instrument a utility, such a public water utility, to be more conservation-focused? Can we monitor for a bacteria build up, or other things that might affect us. You hear about Flint, Michigan, and the idea is to build smarter cities that are modern and also protect people better. It benefits everyone because we all get to be a part of it.
How Do You Deal With Competition?
There will always be competition. Other companies have been established longer, they understand what works for them and what doesn’t work, but I do believe we are being very effective. The key is to not try and be all things to all people. Our focus areas are on those customers who engage us, we try to do well with those particular customers. This is because we want to make sure we do so well with them that when the job is done, and the time comes for them to make their next purchase, we would have gained their trust, and they are likely to tell their other colleagues or agencies about they good job we are doing. From that perspective, we have been very successful.
Who HDSFed Has Worked With
If you look at the federal government, there are really three areas and we have worked with each of them. You have the civilian space where you have the NASAs, FAAs, FEMAs and so on, then you have the intelligence community with the typical agencies, and then you have the Department of Defense. A lot of the businesses we have had are evenly spread across these three areas. We have been very effective in these areas, partly because we have the technology that is interesting to them. Even with our storage solution, where we have a virtualization capability that allows us to be more effective. For instance, we do not come in and tell our clients that they need to take out all the machines inside a room because we are going to replace them.
What we have is a box, which we put into a rack and tell them to keep what they have, whether its IBM, HP or EMC, but we will virtualize that storage. Once we access that and put some benchmarking on that, we know that some will be faster, some cheaper and some deeper. We will work with the client on a policy for the migration of that data. The client might say that this pile of data needs to be over here because they need really fast storage but it’s really expensive. This pile of data they might decide that they don’t use very often because it’s an older batch of emails. As such, it needs to go over to this storage because they have already paid for it, so it is already capitalized, even though it may not be the fastest. What we are doing is gaining trust by helping them to save money, especially when the budgets are limited.
Where Do You See HDSFed Going in the Next Few Years?
We will continue to leverage virtualization, but that is at a lower level. At the very basic level, people will always worry about bits, bytes, bandwidth and so on, but we really want to help people at the higher levels. For instance, we want to use cloud technology to help our clients solve their problems. Assuming the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services have issues revolving around air quality, our concern would be how to help them be more effective at managing the problem through collaboration and smarter data-driven decision-making.
Speaker: Christian Heiter
Position: Chief Technology Officer, Engineering, Hitachi Data Systems Federal Corporation (HDS Federal)
As the chief technology officer, Christian Heiter drives HDS Federal’s strategic direction to provide mission-oriented solutions for federal agencies. Working with HDS corporate, his team develops a collective set of solutions to address critical challenges within the government ecosystem.
Hitachi Data Systems Federal provides technology solutions that enable government agencies to extend the useable life of their IT infrastructure. By engineering technologies from the ground up, HDS Federal offers agencies greater reliability and scalability, while reducing total cost of ownership in budget conscious environments.