Author Archive

KK Krishnakumar

KK Krishnakumar

Senior Vice President & Chief IT Architect

Introducing the Architecture of the Future: Mapping the Way to IT Success

At EMC, as with many companies across the globe today, we are pursuing our path to digital transformation—enabled by our internal IT Transformation. For EMC IT, digital transformation points us towards a vision of personalized products and services, real-time information and analytics smartly helping ‘pilot’ the business, and contemporary customer experiences enabled on smart devices. In other words, we are transforming EMC into a software defined enterprise (SDE). The question is what does “software defined enterprise” (SDE) really mean for IT and how do we get there. By way of an answer, our Office of Architecture and Innovation team recently came up with a game plan—appropriately called EMC IT Architecture of the Future.

We have created a comprehensive blueprint detailing the foundational architecture principles which are critical to achieving our software defined enterprise goals. While the priorities highlighted in the plan are not new, this is the first time IT has brought them together in a single vision defining how each fits to deliver SDE.  The intent is to help clearly communicate IT’s role in making the notion of SDE a reality.

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Flash Comes Down to Earth: High-performance Storage Goes Mainstream

Flash storage is getting decidedly more flashy these days. The once exclusive and expensive, high-performance storage technology is staking out an increasingly mainstream storage footprint across the current data environment.

Typically, flash has been the Formula 1 of storage technology, used to meet workloads requiring high-intensity IO with low-latency needs for applications like high-performance computing, database acceleration and data mining support. While it is still used to meet these demands, we find that due to both technology and business model changes, we are able to use flash in a variety of general purpose storage situations, and, in fact, that’s how we are putting it to use in EMC IT.

There are several factors that have made flash a more viable option for a wider array of storage needs:

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Service Portfolio Management: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

When it comes to running your IT operation like a business to deliver IT as a Service (ITaaS) and competing with outside providers, Service Portfolio Management (SPM) is where the rubber meets the road.

SPM is the process by which your IT organization makes sure your service catalog is providing the right mix of services that will meet customers’ needs and deliver business value while at the same time enabling you to be a financially viable service provider. Or, put in plain business terms, SPM is how you make sure you are selling the right product mix to meet your customers’ demands (and needs) at the right price to keep you in business–to keep IT relevant. It is basic supply and demand.

That said, achieving SPM as you transform your traditional IT operation to ITaaS has its challenges. EMC IT has been in the process of transforming to an ITaaS model for several years now. And just as our transformation journey has been a learning process, so has our journey to effective SPM.

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The “Unconference”: IT Chief Architect/CTO Forum Takes New Approach to Idea Sharing

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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EMC In The Fast Lane Toward The Third Platform

Unleashing the power of mobile computing in your organization while keeping your information secure is an evolving challenge in today’s fast-changing world of mobility.

Mobility is an extremely important component in the evolution to the Third Platform, given the “consumerization of IT” and the fact that enterprises are seeking to run their business from mobile devices. Freedom to compute using the device you prefer, freedom to roam where and when you want,  freedom to consume using different apps, and freedom to collaborate —these are the mantras of the evolution to the Third Platform.

The vision for the EMC Pervasive Mobility program, therefore, is to provide user-centric, value-driven secure access to any enterprise information from any device, anytime, from anywhere.
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Don’t Fear Big Data: Leverage the Right People and Take It Easy

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 Big Data Wilderness: Finding Your Way Starts With Asking The Right Questions

When it comes to defining how to use Big Data analytics for your business, consider these words of wisdom from baseball great Yogi Berra—“If you don’t know where you’re going, you will wind up somewhere else.”

Knowing where you want to go in analyzing the vast amounts of data you now have available is one of the most important aspects of leveraging that data to gain value for your organization. In other words, if you don’t at least directionally define the question or the business problem you are trying to solve before you begin your data query process, you are unlikely to get the accurate and valuable answers you need.  Without proper planning, you can just spin your wheels forever analytics-wise.

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Liberate Your Big Data And Close The Loop To Leverage Its True Value

For your IT operation to make the most of your organization’s ever-expanding Big Data in today’s information-driven universe, you need to set it free.

I don’t mean free in the sense of relinquishing control of your data and letting it go where it may, but in the sense of opening it up for collaboration with the business in pursuing meaningful analytics and then adding value from the results back into the data.

In fact, data liberation is central to a three-phase Big Data vision and strategy EMC is using to make the most of what our data is telling us.

Consolidate

The first phase is data consolidation—getting your data into a centralized repository with appropriate provisions for a federated model. For this, your data must be logically centralized but not necessarily physically centralized. This should be applied to both structured and unstructured data and accommodate both real-time and batch updates.

Liberate

But data consolidation alone won’t let you get the most out of what it can tell you. For this, you need to liberate your Big Data by allowing the business to start using it as much as possible. In the past, IT organizations were accused of holding the data hostage. And we did in the sense that we, as custodians (but not necessarily owners) of the enterprise data, tended to keep business groups from working with the data directly for fear they would adversely impact its integrity and security.

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EMC IT Takes a Holistic Approach to Optimizing Business Capabilities

Planning our EMC IT strategy to meet the company’s future business capability requirements is a lot like planning for the future growth of a city.  For a city to thrive and prosper, leaders must holistically coordinate infrastructure projects and resources across municipal departments to meet the needs and demands of its residents within city policies–hopefully with the least amount of bureaucracy. Road improvements, for example, need to link to traffic and development patterns and not conflict with sewer or water line installation.

As EMC’s business has become more complex, EMC IT has been striving to work closely with business units in a similarly holistic approach to map out what capabilities they need and how IT can support them. We are in the process of forging such a strategic plan for the current year, based on an increasing level of collaboration with the business units we serve.

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How EMC Uses Big Data to Deliver Value to the Business

Harnessing Big Data is an important strategy for all companies in today’s information-driven world. But where do you begin in choosing a project to utilize this vast resource effectively?

Much has been written about the three Vs of Big Data – Volume, Velocity and Variety. But the unsaid fourth V–Value–is the one where we have to direct our focus. It only makes sense to start where Big Data analytics will have a big impact right away. At EMC, we have seen that there  are at least three types of use cases to consider—those involving business data (customer data, product data, quotes and orders, financial data), data center data (events from networks, storage, servers, applications) or security (events from firewalls, IDS, antivirus, etc… ). Chances are, like EMC, your company has already taken steps to consolidate your data and found that traditional data stores or standard analytics tools still do not provide the agility that you need.

At EMC, for our first Big Data use case, we chose to focus on the business side of the house in a project to bolster our Customer Quality (CQ) effort. This is a critical focus that touches on all aspects of our business. Utilizing Big Data analytics here promised to be an early and substantial win.

Want to Read More? Visit the EMC Executive Reflections Blog for the full post.