The CIO and the CISO: Evolving Security Together

VicIn an ongoing video series, EMC Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat and EMC leaders discuss the changing landscape of IT. From maturing partnerships with the business to redefining IT to be more contemporary, Vic and his guests explore how the industry is evolving to maximize agility and improve responsive times to business demands.

The latest edition of the Coffee in the Café with Vic Bhagat featuresDave-Martin---Headshot2 EMC Chief Information Security Officer Dave Martin, who offers a look into how EMC is taking a new approach to data protection — leveraging the latest in analytics and other predictive tools – while maintaining a positive, more functional user experience.

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Smart Data Visualization: Helping Decision Makers Get the Picture

lena2By Dr. Lena Tenenboim-Chekina — Senior Data Scientist, EMC IT

Smart data visualization is proving to be an essential tool in maintaining increasingly complex Big Data systems in the cloud.

The adoption of Big Data tools and technology heavily relies on distributed scaled out computing. One of the main differences in this setting is that it includes systems that operate as a whole on top of several independent hosts. These hosts coordinate their actions with limited information and as a result maintenance complexity significantly increases. One way to overcome this challenge is smart data visualization, which helps the IT experts and management pinpoint the source of problems quickly.

The need for smart visualization is not unique to this problem. Representing complex data as a concise picture which tells decision-makers a story is a key part of any data analytics or data science project. Valuable results of a rigorous analysis may remain undiscovered due to a lack of a visualization clearly communicating the underlying information to the reader. The importance of data visualization is not a novelty. A number of visualization tools, as well as a general interest in data visualization topics, have exploded in popularity in recent years, as evidenced by the proliferation of literature available about infographics and visualization arcanum in both print and online media.

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What’s the Best Predictor of Success With IT Transformation?

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By Mike Koehler — Senior Vice President, EMC Global Services

On the road to IT-as-a-Service, transforming your IT infrastructure and applications is the easy part, comparatively speaking, that is. The really tough part is transforming the people and processes, and it’s also what differentiates the most successful IT transformations.

So you’ve virtualized your environment, set up your on-premises private cloud and connected it with a public cloud solution. You have a hybrid cloud up and running and you’re on your way to delivering IT-as-a-Service. Now that you have the hardware and software operating, how do you get your people operating in a new way – with new processes and structure — that allows your business to capitalize on the new IT agenda to deliver more business value than ever before?

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SAP HANA and EMC Technology: Architecting for the Future

Debajit2By Debajit Banerjee — Technical Architect SAP, SAP HANA, Big Data Solutions, EMC IT

A few months ago, EMC IT successfully migrated its mission-critical, SAP Business Warehouse (BW) from an Oracle database to SAP HANA, an in-memory, relational database management system that offers several benefits over our existing system.

Not only is SAP HANA providing us with speed and efficiency needed to meet today’s growing demand for real-time business analytics, it is also allowing us to showcase how several EMC technologies can be leveraged in combination with HANA to create a contemporary IT architecture.

EMC implemented an SAP-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in 2012, to replace its decades-old, Oracle-based ERP system. However, since SAP HANA was still very new and developing at that time, we waited more than a year to migrate our Business Warehouse database from Oracle to a now-evolved SAP HANA-based system. In the meantime, our data volume grew and our business reporting process to analyze and report on key data was slow and not so efficient.

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Evolving IT as a Business Partner

VicBy Vic Bhagat — EMC Chief Information Officer
@VicBhagat

I had the distinct pleasure of presenting to many local CIOs and IT professionals at Evanta’s CIO Executive Summit in Boston last Tuesday.  In speaking with a variety of attendees, one common topic revolved around how we must change our conversations and working relationship with our business users.

It is no surprise that today’s business leaders are faced with a trifecta of challenges – unwavering competitive pressures; shifting business and budgetary priorities; and unprecedented new technologies, such as cloud, analytics, mobility and social media.  Traditionally, we would do all we could to help, but were often handcuffed by a budget-driven, multi-year command and control processes for IT projects.
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An IT Epiphany: Getting Back to Basics and Defining Our “Wins”

1c0038eBy Jon Peirce — Senior Vice President, EMC IT

Sometimes simple steps can lead to substantial insights in the midst of transition. One such instance proved extremely valuable in our Redefine IT effort.

In my previous Redefine IT blog, I described the structure of our IT transformation program, the workstreams we used to reshape our organization, and our pursuit of a more inclusive process for driving change.  In this installment, I want to share an elegantly simple exercise that ended up bringing new focus to our IT Strategy.

As our transition to IT-as-a-Service was taking shape, we decided to actually spell out our IT Strategy and how it connects with what matters most to EMC. We have always had an implied IT Strategy that was tightly aligned to EMC’s corporate strategy; however, we had never written it down, and consequently there was varied understanding of it across our IT organization and across the company.  Continue reading

Electric Gadgets, Space Junk and Cyber Security: Purging Obsolete IT Controls

Doug headshot2By Doug Graham — Senior Director, Global Security Office, EMC IT

As we in IT security scramble to put more and better controls in place to combat a changing array of cyber threats, we as an industry are facing an interesting dilemma: How do we assess the usefulness and value of all the controls we have deployed over the years and continue to have in place?

After all, as I talk to people across the cyber security industry, I almost never encounter anyone who can tell me a story about having turned off a security control once they turned it on.  Yet, with the changing threat landscape, we clearly need to be adding new security technologies and processes to our already substantial arsenal.
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The “Unconference”: IT Chief Architect/CTO Forum Takes New Approach to Idea Sharing

KKBy KK Krishnakumar — EMC Vice President and Chief IT Architect

 

It may not take a village to create cohesive IT architecture in a changing high-tech world, but forging a small community of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and Chief Architects is proving to be a helpful tool. At least that is the consensus of the feedback EMC and VMware have gotten to our Chief Architect/CTO Forum that debuted at EMC World last spring.

As an IT Architect I can tell you that CTOs and Chief Architects don’t just focus on technology, though it is certainly central to their world. They also deal day-to-day with a more holistic set of problems, including resources, employee skill sets and ensuring that their organization’s architecture comes together as need. And, until earlier this year, they didn’t have a place to discuss these challenges with their peers at EMC events.

In May at EMC World, however, we decided to give this unique group of professionals a chance to do just that at our first Chief Architect/CTO Forum. We invited some 20 CTOs and Chief Architects to a day-long event in the midst of EMC World 2014, which ran from May 5-8, 2014 in Las Vegas. I co-hosted the event with Job Simon, Vice President, IT Architecture and Strategy at VMware.

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Redefining EMC IT: A Fresh Strategy to Reach the New ITaaS World

1c0038eBy Jon Peirce — Senior Vice President, EMC IT

In my last blog about Redefining IT into a successful IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operation, I described how EMC IT partnered with our trusted IT consultants, EMC Services, to help us assess, refocus and accelerate our IT transformation progress.

As I noted, we were stalled.  While we had achieved significant benefits from adopting a standardized and virtualized infrastructure, we had an operating model and 2,000-person organization that had one foot in traditional IT and one foot in ITaaS. With EMC Services’ help, we regrouped, assessed our model’s maturity level and created a clearer roadmap to move forward. The next step was creating the workstreams to execute against that roadmap; reshaping our organization’s processes and the roles of our people in the new ITaaS world.

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EMC CIO Vic Bhagat: Embracing the Power of Big Data

VicBig Data is changing the way IT organizations operate and deliver solutions to the business. It is a new, contemporary approach for IT to help business users harness and interpret information to drive more efficiency, productivity, performance and value for the business.  As EMC IT embraces Third Platform, we are breaking new ground with Big Data analytics to better position the organization to deliver a more competitive solutions.

EMC CIO Vic Bhagat (@VicBhagat) addressed this topic and more in a recent interview with the Pivotal Blog, tackling the questions, challenges and opportunities facing both EMC IT and global CIOs. Where can IT organizations begin? How can they drive new behaviors? How should they address internal clients?

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Affordable Flash: New Dedup Power a True Game Changer

paul-divittorio2By Paul Divittorio — Director of Cloud Infrastructure, EMC IT

Flash technology isn’t just for storing your most critical data anymore. Thanks to all-flash storage arrays with super-efficient, in-line deduplication capabilities, flash can now be the most cost-effective choice for your less critical storage needs as well.

This can be illustrated by two use cases we’ve developed for EMC’s all-flash, solid-state clustered storage system, XtremIO. The first is virtual desktop infrastructure. I know what you’re thinking—why would you want to use the most expensive storage for one of the less expensive applications, virtual desktops? To provide a consistent desktop experience and to save money, actually.
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Building the Security Team of Today and Tomorrow

Dave-Martin---Headshot2By Dave Martin — Vice President and Chief Security Officer

Technologies such as mobile, social networking, analytics and cloud computing are changing the security landscape, and security technologies are rapidly evolving to address that change.

It’s not just the technology that needs to change, however: security teams need to change as well.

EMC has evolved and must continue to evolve our security team to effectively combat the threats of today and tomorrow. The core skills essential to expand include business engagement and awareness; a consultative approach; the ability to sell or “market” security; and creative control design for the mobile and cloud-enabled world of tomorrow.

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Changing Security Behaviors: How Marketing Savvy Can Break Patterns

Doug headshot2By Doug Graham — Sr. Director, Global Security Organization, EMC IT

Data-hacking hound dogs beware. EMC recently got a little help from Elvis in battling cyber criminals.

The “King” was at the center of an integrated marketing campaign our Global Security Operations ran this spring to encourage IT users to avoid clicking on suspicious email links that could lead to phishing attacks on our company’s data.

The several-week advertising effort featured a videotaped parody of the Elvis Presley song “Suspicious Minds,” in which ITers acted out why users shouldn’t click on “Suspicious Links,” It also featured a security awareness contest.

The campaign resulted in more than double the number of users reporting phishing attempts via suspicious emails. It also substantially increased the number of users going to our security awareness site, which we call FirstLine in recognition of the fact that the actions of IT users are the first line of defense against cyber-attacks.

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The Price is Right: Predicting Cost of Support Contracts for Complex Products

Oshry_HeadshotBy Oshry Ben-Harush — Data Scientist Manager, EMC IT

One of the challenges hardware (and software) manufacturers are facing is estimating the future level of support required in maintaining their products. Underestimating the support requirements would lead to major loses on the support contract while overestimating hurts the competitive edge of the product.

Future level of support includes: replacements, repairs, remote and on-site support. To that end, manufacturers develop reliability models for everything from hard/flash drives to cars and aircraft. These models take into account different configuration parameters of the final product and its internal components.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

In 2007, Google conducted a large-scale analysis for a subset of its drive population. It utilized an environment containing a large number of disk drives, collected different types of data from these drives to a Big Data store (Google’s Bigtable) and conducted an analysis of the different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and their correlation with drive mortality:

  • Manufacturer, Models and Vintage
  • Temperature
  • Utilization
  • Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (M.A.R.T)

Contrary to expectations, Google’s researchers found that these KPIs are more useful for predicting trends for a large population than for predicting a single drive failure.

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Closing the IT Transformation Gap: Outside Help Can Bridge the Chasm

1c0038eBy Jon Peirce — Senior Vice President, EMC IT

Making the transformation from the old, traditional IT world to the new IT as a service (ITaaS) world is about more than technology. It involves the much more gradual and, at times, more challenging evolution of your operation’s people and processes into a new operational and organizational structure, while maintaining the old processes and structures that need to exist until the transformation is complete.

This split focus of having one foot in the traditional IT world and one in ITaaS can undermine your transformation journey by adding complexity and uncertainty that conspire to prevent true change from taking root in the organization.  The reality is, every IT organization on a transformational journey faces this type of challenge and there’s no need to tackle it alone.  You may want to take the time to get some help from someone who’s done it before and can provide some “tough love” to get you over the hump.

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A Glimpse Behind the Cloud: Tour the EMC Durham Data Center

By Dave Scheffler — EMC Director of Data Center Services

Today, everyone is talking about IT in the cloud, but there still has to be a physical infrastructure on the back end on which to run the cloud. Welcome to EMC’s Durham Data Center.

Our 20,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility illustrates the most efficient way to implement the hardware your organization needs to run the cloud. It features one of the largest Vblock environments in existence. Its leading-edge green features demonstrate the savings that can be gained with a creative approach to environmental technology. And finally, our Data Center serves to showcase the full array of EMC’s products and solutions in the real world as we “drink our own champagne” in virtualizing, automating, and backing up some 12 petabytes of data.

Our virtual tour of the Durham Data Center gives you a high level understanding of how our data center works and a glimpse of EMC Cloud computing using Vblock architecture. It features purpose-built Vblocks which run our SAP-based, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and Exchange environment, as well as 100 percent tapeless backup environments built on our Data Domain and Avamar technologies. With tens of thousands of VMs in our data center, our sales staff can tap in to Durham to demonstrate products and services in a real-life lab setting.

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Balancing Privacy and Productivity

VicBy Vic Bhagat — EMC Chief Information Officer
@VicBhagat

As if we didn’t have enough examples this year, the “Corporate Boards Race to Shore Up Cybersecurity” article in The Wall Street Journal reinforced one of our greatest challenges as CIOs and CISOs. How can we enable our business to be more agile and successful, while minimizing risks and protecting our company, intellectual property and customers?

Previously, everyone used the same kind of computers on the same corporate network in the same offices. Alas, those days are gone. Today, we aren’t just defending against denial of service attacks – we are vigilantly protecting our companies from more organized, persistent threats to infiltrate our environment and exfiltrate our intellectual property. On the flipside, we must mitigate risks with a more mobile, global and social workforce that expects their IT capabilities at work to mirror the IT experience they have in their personal lives.

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Text Analytics: Easy Classification For Routing Service Requests

Rafi2Dr. Raphael Cohen — Principal Data Scientist, EMC IT

The first step we ask as data scientists when we approach a new project is what’s the customer’s available data? While some of the time the answer will be a table or file with lots of nice numbers just waiting to be ingested by a machine learning classifier, most of the time a big chunk of the information will be stored in free text columns or documents.

As a customer-facing organization we store information describing EMC’s interaction with clients: some of it structured such as time to close, problem codes, etc.— but also free text fields such as problem summary or comments from the customer satisfaction survey.  These free text fields can be used for accurately routing service requests to the right support team to improve resolution times and customer satisfaction, identify burning issues in the customer satisfaction survey or identify emerging problems.

Similarly, Sales would like to use a potential customer’s web site in order to categorize that company’s needs and identify products sold to similar companies.

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Data Quality Management: An ITaaS Game Changer

NeilBy Neil Thibodeau — Senior Director, EMC IT Business Management

Becoming financially transparent and allowing IT customers to see and control what they invest in IT services is a critical part of transforming your IT operation into an IT-as-a-Service model. But those financial details are only as good as the data they are drawn from.  Data Quality Management is foundational to building an ITaaS model, as well as to maintaining credible financial transparency as your IT operation evolves and matures.

EMC IT began focusing on Data Quality Management back in 2011, when we pursued financial transparency as part of our ITaaS transformation. The goal was to transition our IT operation from a traditional centralized, cost-center based IT budget— where users had little or no information on the cost and value of what they consumed—to a financially transparent one providing increased detail on users’ IT spend.

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Convincing the Business to Embrace the Cloud: A New IT Mindset is Key

1c0038eBy Jon Peirce — Senior Vice President, EMC IT

When it comes to transforming your traditional IT operation, convincing business users to embrace your new cloud architecture can be an uphill battle.

As I noted in my last blog, EMC IT initially provided infrastructure to our business users free of charge and stepped up our guaranteed service levels to convince them to adopt our new infrastructure. Virtualization and multi-tenancy were creating tremendous cost and efficiency benefits.

Nonetheless, we faced an interesting phenomenon—even though our infrastructure was free, some business units were still opting to work around us and spend real money on services.  It really caused us to pause, and ask, “Why is this happening?” Continue reading