Platform-as-a-Strategy: It’s All About Business Capabilities

By Bill Reid, Senior Director, IT Platform Strategy and Engineering

Developing Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a vital part of corporate IT operations these days as such operations strive to become more responsive to their internal business customers by shedding the traditional model for IT-as-a-Service. Through the EMC Federation, we have multiple options that we have embraced to support both new and legacy capabilities, including Cloud Foundry from Pivotal which is well-positioned for the Third Platform supporting multiple Big Data and mobility needs and VMware tools supporting the automation of public, hybrid and private cloud management.

While we embrace all of these capabilities within EMC IT, we are also taking a broader, more holistic approach to PaaS. Rather than simply thinking about Platform-as-a-Service, we are thinking about Platform-as-a-Strategy.

With a traditional PaaS model, users request platform capabilities (servers, storage, web capabilities) on a project-by-project basis and IT provides the landscape on which users can develop their applications.

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IT Financial Transparency: Eyes Wide Open to Opportunity

By Neil Thibodeau — Senior Director, IT Business Management

EMC IT’s evolving financial transparency model is letting IT users see more than costs and billing details for the IT services they use. It is also opening their eyes to the opportunity to take control of those costs and free up funds for more strategic IT investments that will result in operating efficiencies, increase profitability and enhanced growth.

For nearly four years, EMC IT has been transitioning 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. It is a crucial part of our transformation to an IT-as-a-Service model. I’m happy to say our IT customers—the business units— are beginning to use that information to take control of their IT investments as we had hoped they would.

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Securing the Cloud: Work With Users to Build Best Practices

By Steen Christensen — Director of Information Security, EMC Global Security Organization

In today’s rapidly changing IT world, business users in your organization are going to seek the agility and increased capabilities of the cloud whether or not your IT operation sanctions it. So your efforts to provide IT security in the cloud need to start with embracing that fact and working to build secure practices from there.

In EMC’s Global Security Organization, we found that the best way to secure the cloud is to actually become a part of it rather than trying to fight it. As a part of the solution, you can build better, secure offerings that will allow you to protect your data and get a better experience for the user.

For the past nine months, GSO has been identifying shadow IT applications (or business-managed IT) in the cloud using a security monitoring appliance, RSA NetWitness, in conjunction with increased security analytics.  This gives us a comprehensive view of our network traffic, including shadow IT.  And rather than blocking those shadow users from continuing their cloud-based operations, we work with them to provide IT-controlled solutions that will still serve their business needs in a secure way.

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Working in the Cloud: Taking a Fresh Look at Today’s Jobs

By Phyllis Doig — Consultant Business Systems Analyst, EMC Office of Architecture and Innovation

On your organization’s journey to the cloud, having people with the right skills, framework and perspective to maximize your cloud technology is crucial.  Whether you are looking to recruit new talent or striving to help support the continued advancement of those already staffing your IT operation, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at today’s jobs related to cloud services.

I was part of a team at EMC that recently did just that and would like to pass along what we found about these evolving IT roles.

We realized that there is a need for more information on IT jobs and how they have been transformed by the larger industry trends of cloud, big data, social and mobile technologies.  Together with my colleague Chhavi Gupta, an EMC engineer, we began researching jobs in the cloud last summer for a paper on the subject. We recently presented our findings at a national engineering conference hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Striving To Be Less Necessary: Developing Future Security Leaders Is Crucial

By Doug Graham, Senior Director, Global Security Office – EMC IT

I would no doubt turn a few heads if I said, “I’m trying really hard to get to the point where I make no decisions and do no work.” But the fact is, if I ever got to that point as Senior Director for EMC’s Global Security Office, I would be an extremely effective leader by developing my team to lead without me.

I don’t expect to get to that state of leadership obsolescence any time soon. However, I know that a crucial part of being a leader in today’s new Information Security paradigm is working to develop future leaders in our organizations. And one of the hardest things about leading is developing leadership skills in others because as you do, you frankly become less necessary.

Those are some of the points I explored in a workshop about Developing Cross Functional Leadership Skills at the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco.

While I am sure that many of the conference attendees will be there to learn new technical skills to be better leaders, these skills are only one of many ways leaders gain power and influence in their organizations.

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Putting Customer Happiness First: EMC IT’s New-Look IT Service Management

By Dana Swanstrom — Director of IT Service Management, EMC IT

If early results are any indication, EMC IT Service Management is making its customer 30 percent happier than we did two years ago. We are also giving them more control over addressing IT Service incidents via self-service options, cutting down on reassignments of their service requests from one service agent to another, and using more standardized processes resulting in fewer emergency service issues.

It’s all part of EMC IT’s recent initiative to transform our clients’ IT service experience by forging a new IT Service Management (ITSM) program that optimizes service management processes and technologies.

The project, which we call UnITy, was a massive undertaking to replace our outdated, inconsistent and less-than-agile ITSM processes and obsolete platforms to better meet the evolving needs of our customers.

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Automated Storage: The Final Piece of IT Optimization

By Srinivasa Maguluri — Consultant Architect, Cloud Platforms, EMC IT

While today’s business organizations have gained tremendous IT agility and efficiency with technology that automates the management of their computer and network resources, handling growing data storage demands across multiple environments has remained a time-consuming challenge—until now.  Software defined storage opens the door for enterprises to achieve automated and on-demand management of their data storage resources to provide the final piece of IT optimization in the cloud.

I am part of a team at EMC IT that is currently incorporating a groundbreaking software defined storage platform into our IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) model.

Amid the ongoing explosion of data creation and the demand to access and analyze such information quickly, enterprises have been struggling to manage their multi-vendor storage environments. Software defined storage turns physical storage arrays into pools of virtual shared storage resources so that users don’t have to care which platform their data is on. After all, business organizations are interested in data modeling and getting the data storage services they need, and not whether that information is in box A, box B or box C.

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Why EMC IT Virtualized SAP HANA with VMware™

By Michael Harding — Lead SAP Technical Architect, EMC IT

As our IT transformation journey here within EMC IT has been largely predicated on the benefits of virtualization, we continue to fold this strategy into our new implementations.  After going live with a “greenfield” SAP ERP implementation in 2012, we have more recently been focusing on enabling our business users and analytics through SAP HANA.  Not surprisingly, we are actively leveraging the power of VMware to support our SAP HANA rollout.

Many of the benefits of running SAP on a virtual platform apply to Virtualized HANA as well:

  • Cost and resource management (CAPEX and OPEX), leading to increased ROI
  • Increased flexibility and agility to quickly adjust to changing demands
  • Embedded High Availability
  • Efficiencies in automation

While we were certainly aware that there could be some minimal performance impacts of running Virtualized HANA versus a “traditional” physical appliance (yes, quotes are intentional), we felt that the operational and cost benefits far outweigh these impacts.  And as a service provider, does it matter?  The business users are abstracted from physical versus Virtualized HANA… and the advantages they’ve gained from a simple migration from a traditional RDBMS to Virtualized HANA have proven substantial.

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The EMC Durham Cloud Data Center Migration: Inventing a Better Way

By Stephen Doherty, Consultant IT Project Manager

In my last post, (click here to read Part 5) I explained how we set up a Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) bridge between our old and new datacenters that would allow us to use Storage VMotion to transfer VMs and data to our new Private Cloud datacenter.  It worked very well.  We could move VMs and data pretty effectively.  However, setting them up and getting them to run an application was more of a challenge. We had to roll back one of the first three applications that we tried to migrate; the other two took us a long time to trouble shoot and configure.

The solution to minimize risk and downtime seemed obvious to me.  It was just like a technology refresh in the physical world.  Build a new environment with all new components and test it.  Once all the bugs were worked out then you could synch the data and cutover.  Why did I need to move a VM when making another one was just as easy and would provide an opportunity to configure and test it?

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Tech Prediction for 2014: IT’s Ability to Evolve Quickly

VicBy Vic Bhagat — Chief Information Officer

The era of instant gratification is upon us with the proliferation of cloud computing and software-as-a-service, Big Data and the latest analytical tools, and anywhere, anytime access to information on our mobile devices.

Our true test as IT professionals will be our ability to evolve quickly to create contemporary and innovative solutions and apps that enable our users to be more productive, to analyze Big Data for real-time information, and to make decisions that unlock value for the business.

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Don’t Fear Big Data: Leverage the Right People and Take It Easy

By KK Krishnakumar — Vice President and Chief IT Architect

For many companies, the Big Data frontier, while promising, is fraught with pitfalls.

Like any other new and powerful business tool, Big Data analytics can be dangerous if it isn’t managed properly. On the other hand, not using the growing information at your business’ disposal could prove even more dangerous to your market success in a fast-moving, data-driven world.

I’d like to reassure you that there is plenty of room for middle ground. Your organization can safely gain great insights from Big Data by leveraging the right combination of people and skills—some of which are likely already part of your operation—and by tapping Data-Science-as-a-Service resources as you need them.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Professor John Jordan warned of the Risks of Big Data for Companies. Faced with access to more information than organizations ever dreamed of, he said, “There’s a greater potential for privacy invasion, greater financial exposure in fast-moving markets, greater potential for mistaking noise for true insight, and a greater risk of spending lots of money and time chasing poorly defined problems or opportunities.”

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The Art of Possible: Embracing the Third Platform

VicBy Vic Bhagat — Chief Information Officer

As IT professionals, we have never been strangers to change.  New technologies have come and gone…some minor, some quite disruptive.  However, the Third Platform is upon us and has opened the door to new opportunities to drive performance, agility and value for our businesses.

While I’ve been a part of each platform throughout my 30+ years in the industry, this is the first time that so many trends – cloud, Big Data, analytics, mobile, social, digital and security – have converged simultaneously.  This presents some challenges for CIOs and IT professionals.

Economist_StrategicCIO_coverFor instance, a recent Economist Intelligence Unit Survey cited that while 92% of those surveyed are familiar with these emerging technologies and trends, only 50% know how to integrate them into their business.

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The EMC Durham Cloud Data Center Migration: A Long Night of Lessons Learned

Fifth in a series on EMC’s Durham Data Center.

By Steve Doherty — Consultant IT Project Manager

With the migration plan completed (click here to read part 4) for EMC’s Durham Data Center, we began the daunting task of the migration. We weren’t going to use trucks or airplanes to move the gear. We were going to migrate all the applications and data over the wire. The fact that it really hadn’t been done before was a technical challenge that we would just have to overcome.

In late Q4 2010, as we were completing the Durham Data Center infrastructure build (click here to read part 2) our migration team began experimenting.

The first attempt was a straight virtual to virtual (V2V) migration over the WAN.  We thought how cool would that be?  No downtime, little risk, we were already well over 50 percent virtualized.  It turns out the distance between North Carolina and Massachusetts is too far apart, more than 600 miles, which resulted in 25 milliseconds latency. The V2V experiment failed. It took nearly 30 hours to move one Virtual Machine. V2V migration wouldn’t work at that distance.  It also wasn’t a viable solution for the hundreds of physical servers that we were still running.

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EMC CIO Vic Bhagat Talks Emerging IT Trends

While visiting EMC offices in India, Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat met with Vishal Krishna of BW|BusinessWorld.  During the interview, Vic shared is perspective on emerging trends and opportunities in the IT industry from the growth of mobile to analytics to investments in the cloud. Click here to read the article.

2013 Global IT Trust Curve Survey: The Impact On Today’s IT Decision Makers

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Today, EMC and RSA announced the results of the first-ever Global IT Trust Curve Survey. Through a survey of 3,200 IT and business decision-makers in 16 different countries and 10 industry sectors, EMC took the pulse of C-suite audiences and their awareness and opinions of EMC Trust IT — Advanced Security, Continuous Availability and Backup & Recovery.

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Predictive Analytics For IT Operations: Inventing The Future With Our Customers

By Dan Inbar — Senior Director, EMC IT Global Service Operations Center

Alan Kay, a renowned computer scientist said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

And this is my addition: “If we are about to predict the future, let’s use past events, learnings and data to make that prediction as accurate as possible.” This is how EMC IT came about using Big Data analytics to predict service outages.

Like many of our customers, we at EMC IT are exploring the potential of using Big Data analytics to improve the availability of mission critical IT applications and services. We also know that our customers share similar operation issues, so we are excited to share our progress as well.

What started as a pilot program to use Big Data analytics to improve the operation of our Exchange email system at EMC IT has evolved into a more extensive outage prediction tool that is piquing customers’ interest.  Our Big Data Analytics for Outage Prediction system could allow our operations team to collect, analyze, store, and leverage key indicators to predict and prevent interruption in mission critical operations. It is “green fields” for PAITO (Predictive Analytics for IT Operations).

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“The Strategic CIO”: A Closer Look from EMC CIO Vic Bhagat

Implementing the latest technologies, restructuring service organizations and provisioning, cost savings, and much more are rising enterprise requirements and increasing the demand placed upon IT organizations. To manage these changes, chief information officers must not only be more dynamic but more tactical in their thinking, planning and execution. Establishing core values, understand what drives the business, identifying converging trends and leveraging the many tools that encompass today’s IT are key to delivering value. EMC CIO Vic Bhagat details these topics and more in a video titled “The Strategic CIO”.

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The Era of Protecting By Enabling: Securing Enterprise File Sync

By Dave Martin — Vice President and Chief Security Officer

IT managers today are on the forefront of information delivery services. Users are demanding highly available and secure data transfers that are flexible enough to serve them on the road and multiple devices. The days of traveling physically to a secure location to access a file are fast becoming extinct.

Technology transformation has a major impact on how and where we share information, so it’s natural to expect it to also impact how we provide trust for that information. We stay connected across more devices than ever, in more places. It no longer makes sense to apply old methods of static controls and expensive locks, which mimicked our approach to security of physical locations, in a fast-paced, widespread environment. Traditional methods applied to modern data flows ultimately hinder even authorized processes and builds bottlenecks, which prompts users to seek out other service providers.

That is why new and more complete enterprise solutions have been developed to meet the requirements of the end-user as well as IT and Security; they are flexible enough to enhance whatever users have, wherever they are, and make enterprise file sync and sharing (EFSS) easy yet trusted. Better service means more visibility and control while delivering automated and safe EFSS. Users gain the access they demand and IT reduces risk, once the following three key elements are present:

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Security Rules To Live By: Using Your Best IT Judgment

By Doug Graham, Senior Director, Global Security Office – EMC IT

In the world of cyber security, we have reached the point where we feel the need to codify security behavior by telling people what to do and what not to do. But sometimes I wonder if security policy should rely on a much simpler approach—the notion that  people already have a sense of right and wrong and should be encouraged to use their best judgment.

Certainly, security policies are complex. There are many of them and they are scattered around all over the place. But so is the law. And when was the last time you had to pick up a law book to know what’s right or wrong? In most societies, the law stems from basic commandments. Most of us have those principles drilled into us from when we are young. So we might not know specific laws, but we have a sense of right and wrong.

When I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, my mother would use a phrase that would drive me insane. When she’d tell me I couldn’t do something I wanted to do and I’d ask why, she would say “that’s not the done thing.” I’d always wonder what this “done thing” was. The done thing was, of course, what was normal for society to do.

It seems like we sometimes forget that people have a sense of right and wrong when it comes to behavior in the workplace. One well-known exception is retail giant Nordstrom which, up until several years ago, used a 3 by 5-inch card as its “employee handbook.” It listed “Rule #1: Use your best judgment in all situations. There will be no other rules.” There was another paragraph inviting employees to ask their managers questions at any time. (Nordstrom still urges employees to use their best judgment but does now hand out a more detailed handbook with rules and legal requirements.)

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The EMC Durham Data Cloud Center Migration: Planning Migration, Discovery and Move Events

Fourth in a series on EMC’s new Durham Cloud Data Center. Click here to read part three.

By Stephen Doherty, Consultant IT Project Manager

If you are struggling to sort out decades of intertwined databases and mission critical applications to move them to a brand new data center, take heart, you’re not alone.  In this blog I’ll discuss our struggles to come up with a migration plan.

As soon as EMC’s Durham Data Center Migration Program to move six petabytes of data and hundreds of applications to our new cloud data center was underway, we initiated the discovery and planning efforts.  These work streams ran in parallel to our Architecture Design (Part 1) and our First 90 Days (Part 2) work streams.

I had never migrated a data center before and I had no idea how complex the effort would be.  Discovery?  Why would we need to do that?  We know what’s running where….right?

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