Mike Tanner serves as president and CEO of Hitachi Data Systems Federal Corp. — the U.S. government market subsidiary of HDS — and has led the organization since its launch on April 1, 2013.
He originally joined HDS in 2007 as a district sales manager and also spent seven years at Hewlett-Packard, where he helped lead sales of storage products to government agencies.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Tanner describes his own transition to HDS’ federal subsidiary, trends in converged infrastructure tools for the public sector and his view on how the federal government’s data center consolidation initiative will evolve this year.
ExecutiveBiz: Describe how the federal subsidiary fits into the overall Hitachi Data Systems structure and market strategy.
Mike Tanner: Hitachi Data Systems is a U.S. corporation that sells IT solutions across the globe. When I joined the company eight years ago, however, its presence in the federal marketplace was relatively limited. While we had done business with the government for the better part of 20 years, the company worked primarily through two small partner companies.
I was brought on board to strengthen our relationship with the federal government, grow our business in the across the federal marketplace and ultimately expand the number and variety of solutions that HDS can offer the U.S. public sector.
ExecutiveBiz: What led you to take the CEO role for the subsidiary?
Mike Tanner: I was drawn by the tremendous opportunity to grow the Hitachi brand in the federal marketplace, but also by some unique challenges I knew our organization would face.
When I came to Hitachi early on, I presented a strategy to grow the federal business through the creation of a separate subsidiary called HDS Federal that would act independently of its Japanese parent. As a separate federal subsidiary, we have our own board of directors and our own systems that allows us to deal directly with the customers.
This provides the interface and it mitigates the control and influence over our business, which allows us to get much closer to customers who operate in a classified environment. It opens the door for more business in the Defense Department and intelligence community.
Ultimately, the most compelling reason for taking this position is my belief that our solutions can improve the government’s capacity to accomplish complex missions.
ExecutiveBiz: Looking at some areas in the market, how do you see the Federal Data Center Consolidation initiative continuing and evolving over the next year?
Mike Tanner: Data center consolidation will be a continued area of focus for the federal government. Looking at some statistical data, the government spends more than 80 percent of its IT budget on legacy technologies, and it doesn’t have money to spend on new and innovative technologies. Data center consolidation is certainly one of the government’s efforts to save on their legacy technology.
Some of HDS Federal’s technologies have helped customers take their existing assets and get more productivity out of them — extending their usable life significantly. I expect to see the data center consolidation initiative continuing over the next year by reducing the number of data centers, getting better utilization out of those assets and integrating what they have with cloud-type solutions, whether that is a private, public or hybrid of a private and public cloud.
HDS Federal can help our customers by bridging the gap between the private cloud implementation and a public cloud implementation by providing a hybrid solution that’s able to get the most efficient use of all technologies.
ExecutiveBiz: What areas of converged infrastructure are agencies looking at?
Mike Tanner: As agencies optimize their data centers to drive higher utilization rates,converged infrastructure is increasingly becoming the best option. We generally look at consolidating server, network and storage elements into a single, converged entity.
But with the speed of technology and the rapid changes we are facing, it is all about the automation and enabling these new systems and applications in a quicker and more robust fashion. Everything is going towards a software-defined type environment that gets you into the converged infrastructure a lot more quickly.
What gives HDS Federal a significant advantage in the development of these software-defined technologies is that we have been working within that type of environment for years.
With our virtualization capability, we have converged heterogeneous environments into a single operating environment around the storage and compute. Converged infrastructure is about automation and provisioning systems more quickly, easily and affordably.
ExecutiveBiz: Where can government and industry collaborate more in data security?
Mike Tanner: Security and data security is all about big data analytics. We all know that there is more and more information out there. We have seen in the press that individual data is becoming compromised. It is about capturing all of this data and more importantly analyzing the data, whether it is incoming threats or attempts to access information.
Hitachi Data Systems recently acquired Pentaho, a data analytics company. Government and industry can collaborate more in sharing data and analyzing information jointly. Pentaho has the tools for data analytics around captured data.
We can collaborate more when we share the information, analyze the different types of threats government is facing, and how we can proactively get in front of them.