Hitachi: Relevant retrieval key to future storage

The company says intelligent information retrieval will be a key focus in the future, as data continues to grow exponentially

Intelligent information retrieval will be a key focus for the future in the realm of storage, to manage the exponential data growth of an increasingly connected society, according to a Hitachi executive.

At a media briefing on Thursday, on the sidelines of the company's uValue Convention 2008 in Japan, Naoya Takahashi, Hitachi's senior vice president and chief executive of platform business for the Information & Telecommunication Systems Group (ITSG), said the ability to store increasing amounts of data is not an issue because disk area density is growing year-on-year and the technology for storing data more efficiently is already available.

What is becoming more of a concern, however, is the capability to make sense of information and the ability to extract relevant data when needed, Takahashi noted.

"We not only [need to] focus on increasing capacity and performance [of storage], but also find a way to get the exact data required by corporations and individuals," he said.

During the opening keynote at the two-day convention, Manabu Shinomoto, president of Hitachi's ITSG, highlighted some areas where technology can play a greater role in promoting convenience and efficiency in the living environment. These applications include detection of unusual behaviour in elevators and a real-time warning system for drivers, where hi-tech image analysis is applied to ensure the safety of users.

According to Takahashi, with the proliferation of such applications, image-matching technology will become "very important" in future.

In the same vein, Hitachi touched on the value of pulling out the right archived information in the back-end, enterprise database. In his speech, Shinomoto, who is also executive vice president and executive officer of Hitachi, introduced the term 'knowledge as a service' (KaaS).

Takahashi explained that KaaS, a concept still under development, was initiated about a year ago with the goal of extracting common or useful knowledge for use in future projects. The vision is similar to that of using old documents as a template for creating new ones, he pointed out, except that it will be used for scenarios such as developing IT systems in organisations.

Hitachi's activities in this space, such as mobilising KaaS, said Takahashi, will be accelerated in the future.

According to company executives on Wednesday, Hitachi is on schedule to complete, by the end of 2008, a $2bn (£1bn) R&D investment in storage, spanning over six years. The company is now evaluating its next R&D investment, which will probably match, if not exceed, its current commitment, ZDNet Asia understands from Hitachi Data Systems' vice president and chief technology officer Hu Yoshida.

On the uValue exhibition floor, Hitachi showcased various technologies, in both the development and newly implemented stage. These included a finger-vein authentication technology for use in machines such as cars, fitness equipment and printers; and a subway touch map that can also provide information that can be downloaded into mobile phones. The second-generation Emiew robot, designed for use as a work mate, guide and helper to the elderly or persons with disabilities, was also showcased at the exhibition.