Relevant retrieval key to future storage

Ability to extract precise data needed by businesses and individuals will become increasingly important in the face of data growth, says Hitachi executive.

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

At a media briefing Thursday, on the sidelines of the company's annual uValue conference and exhibition in Japan, Naoya Takahashi, Hitachi's senior vice president and CEO 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 Hitachi uValue Convention 2008, Manabu Shinomoto, president and CEO of Hitachi's ITSG, highlighted some areas where technology can play a greater role in adding convenience and efficiency to the living environment. These applications include detection of unusual behavior in elevators or a real-time warning system for drivers, where high-tech image analysis is applied to ensure safety of users.

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

Along the same vein, Hitachi touched on the value of pulling out the right archived information in the backend, enterprise database. In his speech, Shinomoto, who is also executive vice president and executive officer of Hitachi, introduced the term KAAS or knowledge-as-a-service.

Takahashi explained that KAAS, still a concept 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 organizations.

Hitachi's activities in this space, such as mobilizing KAAS, said Takahashi, will be accelerated going forward.

According to company executives Wednesday, Hitachi is on schedule to complete by end-2008, a US$2 billion research and development (R&D) investment in storage spanning over six years. The company is now evaluating its next R&D investment, which will likely match, if not exceed, the current commitment, ZDNet Asia understands from Hitachi Data Systems' vice president and CTO Hu Yoshida.

On the uValue exhibition floor, Hitachi showcased various technologies, both in the development and newly implemented stage. These include the 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 workmate, guide and helper to the elderly or persons with disabilities, was also showcased at the exhibition.

Vivian Yeo of ZDNet Asia reported from the Hitachi uValue Convention 2008 in Tokyo, Japan.