Hitachi layoffs hit sales staff; may buy BlueArc

Jo Maitland, News Director

Hitachi Data Systems Inc. (HDS) is laying off an undisclosed number of sales engineers and managers to try to refocus both the sales organization and the company overall on selling packaged solutions and on vertical-industries such as healthcare or content management.

The layoff, first reported in,

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is not designed to shrink overall headcount, according to insiders. Rather, it's a shift from one series of job specialties to another; the company is creating "many jobs in new categories" according to HDS executives.

Some observers call the move a disaster that will cause HDS to lose many of its most knowledgeable storage specialists. Public statements by the company reinforce the idea that it will focus on integrated product packages and a more consultative sales approach, however. Changes in the field sales staff "are designed to further accelerate this growth and make us even more formidable competitors," according to a spokeswoman for the company.

Rumors persist, meanwhile, that HDS is working through its due diligence process before acquiring high-end network attached storage vendor BlueArc. Neither company would confirm or deny the reports.

Wall Street and industry analysts, meanwhile, are reporting a possible deal between Sun Microsystems Inc. and HDS. One possibility is that Sun will sell HDS its storage business, but most analysts discount that possibility due to the relative rarity of HDS' acquisitions and Sun's recent acquisition of StorageTek.

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