As Chris Murphy explained in his video blog post, EMC IT began last year to implement a virtual desktop infrastructure based on VMware View. The VDI concept is pretty straightforward, and sounds compelling: reduce desktop management complexity, more cost-effectively update aging desktops (and their operating systems), and give users greater platform choice—and “anywhere, anytime” universal access.
Can VDI really deliver its user experience promise? How much it would really benefit our company in cost savings and in increased flexibility? EMC IT came up with answers to those questions—and got a “green light” for deploying a production VDI environment during the second half of this year. Continue reading
I recently had a conversation with Paul Divittorio, EMC IT’s Director of Enterprise Systems and Application Hosting Architecture. He’s the guy responsible for designing the next generation hosting platforms being installed in our production data centers here at EMC. When Paul is talking with EMC customers about our IT organization’s journey to Private Cloud, he’s often asked about Vblock. Where does EMC IT think it makes sense to use it? Where is EMC IT using it now? Continue reading
Lately I’ve been in an increasing number of conversations about “multi-tenancy,” and its viability/fitness for use in business IT. Most start out framed as technology discussions. One recent exchange reminded me of a blog post and comment thread back in January on “secure multi-tenancy.” The comments, predictably, devolved into heated debate over who claimed which technologies could do what, who disputed whose claims, and so on.
For my own part, I don’t see technology alone as adequate. What intrigues me, though, is how many IT people that believe technology can—indeed, must—somehow address all this. Continue reading
In a previous post, I described why EMC IT is migrating applications from one of our main Massachusetts data centers to a new facility in North Carolina as part of our company’s journey to building our own Private Cloud. Simply put, we need more distance to protect critical business systems from really big, region-wide disasters. But doing so also adds complexity and cost. More important, it forces us at EMC to sort out which of the applications we run are truly mission-critical. In other words, which must survive a disaster with every last transaction intact? Which can afford to lose a few minutes, hours, or even a day’s worth of data? Continue reading
Running IT for an IT company has some benefits, but it also comes with unique challenges. At EMC, one challenge our IT people at EMC like to joke about is the criticism they regularly get from 40,000 “armchair CIOs.”
But here’s the thing. Some of those critics have really good ideas, such as tools and practices learned from working closely with our customers and partners. Unfortunately, IT has had no systematic way to gather and use that find of information. It’s especially hard when different groups within the company offer conflicting advice. Continue reading
A recent comment in our EMC IT Journey blog reminded me of a really good diagram I’d seen our CIO, Sanjay Mirchandani, use in a presentation to describe EMC IT’s view of cloud computing. As I’m sure you’re painfully aware, there are hundreds of definitions for “cloud” being used in our industry. They do, however, share a common theme: new ways of building, operating and consuming IT that’s more flexible, dynamic, efficient, and available on demand. And their common attraction is converting fixed-cost IT infrastructure into variable-cost services. Continue reading
My EMC colleagues and I often advise IT leaders to begin their own Private Cloud journey by virtualizing everything. That includes “Tier One” applications. When IT people hear “Tier One,” a few brands immediately pop into our heads. When I describe how EMC’s internal IT organization is aggressively building a Private Cloud, I’m not surprised when asked, “What about Oracle?” Continue reading
This is the final part of a series of posts outlining how our IT organization started its aggressive journey to private clouds. Previously, I described IT’s strategy shift, the trigger for its urgency, navigating through “cloud fog,” and the unusual path IT decided upon.
In this post, we’ll take a look at EMC IT’s overall strategy for actually making this journey. Continue reading
This is the fourth of a multi-part series exploring why our IT organization is aggressively transforming EMC’s corporate datacenters into Private Clouds. Previously, I described IT’s strategy shift, its newfound sense of urgency, and navigation through some “cloud fog.”
In this post we look at the unusual course EMC IT charted for its Private Cloud journey, and how the team approached selling its plan to our top execs. Continue reading
A lot of ink has been spilled recently in the press about cloud security, and even virtualized-server security. Many lead off with alarming headlines like this recent example that declares, “60% of virtual servers less secure than physical machines, Gartner says.”
I was discussing Private Clouds with a large group of customers this morning, and was asked a really good question: “Transforming IT infrastructure accomplishes quite a bit, and it’s great seeing EMC lead that charge, but who’s leading the charge in applications? Not just development stuff, but the big enterprise apps we all run in our businesses?”
It’s an excellent question because it strikes at the heart of a long-growing mismatch in application-development and infrastructure-management models. It also touches a raw nerve for many software companies: changing their economic and business models.
This is the third installment of a multi-part series exploring why our IT organization is so aggressively transforming EMC’s own datacenters into Private Clouds. In earlier posts, I described how our IT strategy shift began, and what gave our senior IT folks a newfound sense of urgency.
In this post, we look at how EMC IT decided how to handle the “cloud issue.”
This is the second of a multi-part series exploring why our IT organization is so aggressively transforming EMC’s own datacenters into Private Clouds. In Part 1, I describe how our IT group’s strategy shift began. Despite what you might think, it wasn’t driven by technology.
In this part, we look at what happened to cause our senior IT leaders to second-guess their strategy.
Few people are surprised when they hear our IT organization at EMC has embraced Private Clouds. After all, it’s easy to embrace a vision. It’s another to actually pursue it. But when folks learn how aggressively EMC IT is transforming our current datacenters into a private cloud, I often get reactions along the lines of, “Wow. Eating the food you’re selling to the rest of us. Great move.”
After this sinks in a bit more, I’m often asked: “Wait a minute. How did you manage to make that happen?” One assumption underlying this question is that we’re willing to bet more than merely EMC’s IT-vendor business on Private Cloud. We’re willing to bet our business operations on it.
That’s true enough. We are.
Another frequent assumption is that EMC is haughtily taking operational risks to meet a technology or marketing goal. That one badly misses the mark.
A few years ago, when I was working in one of EMC’s business units, I gathered our top technology and product-management leaders into a conference room. We were meeting to discuss ways we could improve innovation and collaboration among multiple product teams. Just before the meeting was to get underway, a senior architect casually complained about an IT policy that she saw as defeating the purpose of a crucial network architecture feature.
Other architects in the room promptly pronounced the policy “ludicrous,” and within seconds the group was fully immersed in a solid round of IT bashing. After blowing off some steam for a few more minutes we got down to business. If you’re an IT product engineer or developer, or have a similar background, this is undoubtedly a very familiar story.
The cause of scenes like this should be equally familiar—to IT folks. Corporate IT systems, and the people that build and maintain them, have been treated as overhead costs seemingly forever. And we’ve usually measured IT management success the same way we’d grade management of physical buildings, plumbing and electricity.
A year ago, a bunch of us at EMC, VMware and Cisco were in the early days of talking publicly about our shared vision of private clouds, and were still working out a lot of architectural and process issues. Meanwhile, EMC’s IT department was merely another customer in the eyes of… well, all three of our companies.
One of the initiatives we have underway in EMC IT is virtualizing our desktop infrastructure. And like most IT organizations, ours needs to be able to calculate a reasonable cost/benefit ratio before continuing beyond the pilot stage. Naturally, there are many consultant-provided cost and savings models available. Just as naturally, most focus on hardware equipment costs and savings. Then there’s the usual rule of thumb that says operational costs are between double and triple the equipment costs.
But every IT shop has to verify that they either follow the rule, or are an exception. And that means lots of number crunching.
Here’s a phrase you’ve undoubtedly heard far too often: “A major shift in Information Technology is coming.” Most of the time, it’s used merely to introduce some vendor’s new product or technology. It’s also been used to hail the coming of cloud computing and, more recently, private clouds. Cloud proponents—EMC included—love drawing analogies to previous technology waves that transformed business IT.
But let’s be clear about the driving force behind those waves. It was not technology. Each wave hit our shores when new ways were found to address a common and persistent problem: businesses’ need to develop and run applications more quickly and more flexibly than possible using then-conventional means.
We at EMC have been talking about private clouds from the perspective of an IT vendor for quite some time. But EMC is also an IT consumer. Our IT organization supports over 40,000 internal users in 61 countries (and 20 languages), and many hundreds of business applications on over 6,000 server instances spanning five data centers worldwide. Never mind the thousands of terabytes of storage, tens of thousands of devices, and hundreds of thousands of network ports used to conduct business every day.
It comes as no surprise, then, to be asked: “is EMC’s IT organization doing this?” when discussing private clouds with enterprise customers. My answer: “of course.” That’s not hubris. EMC IT began its journey a few years ago. The evolution in EMC IT’s thinking and plans—leveraging virtualization as a technology building block, then taking it to the next level—reflects the evolution in thinking and plans that led us to our vision of private clouds and the VCE coalition.