Mar 12 2012

Must-Read IT Blogger Q&A: Hu Yoshida

This IT blogger is a believer in all things storage.

As vice president and chief technology officer for Hitachi Data Systems, Hubert “Hu” Yoshida works hard to educate customers and the wider public about the latest efficiencies in storage technology.

Before joining Hitachi in 1997, Yoshida spent 25 years in IBM’s storage division, where he held management roles in hardware performance, software development and product management. And he’s not a storage expert who just talks about the technology. Yoshida actually helps to develop open standards in storage management.

Hu’s blog was selected as one of BizTech’s Must-Read IT Blogs last year. We recently caught up with Yoshida and asked him a few questions about IT, storage and blogging.

BIZTECH: What are your daily must-visit tech stops online?

YOSHIDA: I usually visit SearchStorage, Search CIO, and Computerworld, to name a few.

BIZTECH: What emerging technology do you think will most change the enterprise landscape in 2012?

YOSHIDA: Dynamic page tiering will have the most impact on storage by increasing the efficiency and performance of storage tiers — especially with the use of SSD [solid-state drive] tiers.

BIZTECH: What existing technology do you think businesses have most underutilized?

YOSHIDA: I would have to say the virtualization of external storage for increased efficiency and enhancement of legacy storage systems, with the latest functions like thin provisioning and VAAI [vStorage APIs for Array Integration] support.

BIZTECH: What's the most innovative, creative or unusual deployment of technology that you've come across?

YOSHIDA: Payformance [now known as PaySpan], a medical billing company in Florida, has replaced its Oracle database by ingesting medical billing documents directly into Hitachi Content Platform. Instead of doing a table scan in a database to do its billing, it bills directly from HCP. It also replicates the documents into another HCP at a remote site and has eliminated the need to do backup. The company’s use of a content platform has eliminated the need for a database and backup.

BIZTECH: When it comes to small business technology, what best practice can't be repeated often enough?

YOSHIDA: Without question, the archiving of unstructured data to eliminate or reduce the amount of backups.

BIZTECH: Why do you blog?

YOSHIDA: I blog to help users understand Hitachi technology so that they can realize the full value it offers. It’s also important for me to connect with the community that is primarily interested in storage technology.

BIZTECH: What's the most important storage technology for small businesses to adopt?

YOSHIDA: Allocated and unused space is one of the biggest areas of wasted storage capacity in open systems. Running out of space is very disruptive to the application, so users always ask for more capacity than they think they will ever need to avoid this. The storage administrator who allocates the storage to the user may also add additional capacity so that he does not get a call in the middle of the night to help a user add more capacity.

As a result, we find that 40 percent or more of allocated volume is never used by the application, but its use is denied to other applications. Thin provisioning, which is available from most midrange and enterprise storage systems, can provide virtual storage to satisfy the allocation request, but only provisions physical capacity as the application writes actual data to the storage.

This enables other applications to use the unused physical capacity. As long as an application does not physically exceed the amount of its virtual capacity allocation, there is no disruption to the application.

There are other benefits to thin provisioning, including higher performance from dispersing the I/O load across more disk spindles, faster provisioning of volumes with the use of virtual capacity, and more efficient copies and backups by eliminating the need to copy or backup capacity that is not physically used. This is the most important technology for all businesses, including small business. If you are not using thin provisioning, you are leaving money on the table. You can read more about it here.

BIZTECH: What advantages does storage virtualization offer small businesses?

YOSHIDA: Storage virtualization simplifies the management of heterogeneous storage systems and provides higher availability with nondisruptive data mobility and migration. It also enables the enhancement of legacy storage with all the latest technologies like thin provisioning and VAAI when it is virtualized behind the latest technology virtualization engine.

BIZTECH: Have we tapped into the full potential of SSD technology?

YOSHIDA: Now that we have the ability to tier volumes by pages, we can use SSD for the hot pages without wasting expensive SSD capacity for inactive pages. This makes it economical to use SSD for the highest performance tier. The current Flash technology has limited durability, which limits its use in heavy write applications. This limits the volumes that are needed to drive down the costs for Flash SSD. We will need to wait for more durable technologies like PCRAM [Phase Change RAM] or STT [Spin Torque Transfer]-MRAM before SSD can begin to replace hard-disk drives.