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I get no respect

by Hu Yoshida on Jan 25, 2006

Recently I had occasion to speak at a reseller event. During the presentation I noticed one young lady who seemed to be listening intently to my every word, nodding her head whenever I made a point about TagmaStore technology. With this type of feedback, I felt sure I was really getting through to this audience. After the presentation I could see her coming up to talk to me, and I expected some deeper discussion on the finer points of virtualization. This was dashed when she said, “Yoshida-san, I am so amazed by how well you speak English! You have no accent at all.”

Since I has introduced as Hu Yoshida from Hitachi Data Systems, she assumed that I was from Japan. Once I explained that I was born in Watsonville, California, and have been speaking English (American version) all my life, she said “oh” and left without saying “sayonara”.

This of course is a natural mistake since my last name is Japanese and I work for a company that  is a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. Our CEO is Iwata-san and he is from Japan. I was born in the U.S., so people around here just call me Hu.(My given name is Hubert so you can see why I go by Hu)

There is probably a similar confusion between Hitachi Data Systems, the company I work for and Hitachi, the parent. The public knows Hitachi as a large Japanese company that makes everything from rice cookers, flat panal displays, high technology to bullet trains and nuclear reactors. Few know about Hitachi Data Systems, a global company, incorporated in Delaware, which markets data storage solutions through direct and indirect channels. When IDC ranks the storage vendors by market share we rank 4th or 5th since they do not give us credit for sales through the Sun and HP channels. Analysts often say that we are one of the best kept secrets in the storage industry. This hasn’t been bad. During the dot com bust we managed to stay under the radar and made significant market share gains against our competition.

I came across this recent blog by Argolon Solutions, a Cork based provider of software development and IT consulting services which took me a little a back since it gave me perspective on how others may be percieving Hitachi Data Systems. This post welcomed the existance of my blog where the "CTO of a traditionally closed, Japanese owned company" would write about software.  Initially I took this as another stereotype of Hitachi Data Systems as a Japanese owned company, but then I realized that the point he was making was more general and applied to other companies like HP and EMC as well. That point was that blogs could be a way of showing some of the internal thinking of a company without the corporate PR polish. He also goes on to reference other blogs by Jonathan Schwartz of Sun and Dave Hitz of NetApp as examples of corporate bloggers.

I am very pleased that my blog can be associated in any way with Jonathan Schwartz and Dave Hitz. But I am really pleased if my blog can help to remove some of the misconceptions about Hitachi Data Systems and about Hitachi our parent company. Certainly there are some language and cultural differences, like calling me "Yoshida-san" instead of "Hey Hu", but this shouldn’t keep us from having an open and frank discussion about industry requirements and directions. I believe that blogs provide a way of cutting through these barriers.

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Comments (4 )

shel Israel on 25 Jan 2006 at 6:53 pm

Excellent post, Hu. Just excellent.

Conor O'Neill on 26 Jan 2006 at 12:07 am

Hey Hu,

I’m glad you picked up on the fact that we were not making simplistic cultural stereotypes. Your “About Me” link should ensure that no-one makes that mistake.

And you grasped that we were really focused on the storage industry being historically very closed and how important it is for your blog to exist.

Our other commments on HDS were a “tiny” bit” :-) stereotypical but hopefully you’ll forgive us as we were genuinely just thrilled to find that your blog existed.

Hu Yoshida on 31 Jan 2006 at 6:18 am

I appreciate the comments,
Shel, thanks for getting me started.
Conor, thanks for the insight.

Jon Toigo on 07 Feb 2006 at 6:10 am

I kind of like Toigo-san. I sometimes get that from folks who think that anyone with vowels in his name is Japanese, Italian, etc.

What is most important is the outstanding contribution you have made to this industry. I just had my wife email me a graphic that appeared in my first Holy Grail book. It is a block diagram of storage management that you published in a white paper years ago and that vendors still routinely rip off and publish without creditation. I credit you, Yoshida-san, with having skulled out the elements of storage management and I will shortly post a copy of the diagram on my blog and in StorageRevolution.com to provide a baseline for understanding the tasks of storage resource management.

Now, I need you to come up with a block diagram for data management — no small task, but desperately needed.

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