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

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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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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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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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

Data Science as a Service: Driving Agility and Innovation to the ITaaS Model

AlonBy Dr. Alon Grubshtein, Principal Data Scientist — EMC IT

This is a great time to be a data scientist –a bit like rock stars with all the fans always trying to catch some private time with us. While there’s is no clear definition of what a data scientist is (see related blog or view diagram of DS skillset) our take on this role is quite simple:

  1. Work with stakeholders to elevate high impact business related questions
  2. Find the means to answer these questions

This blog aggregates our collective experiences as members of EMC’s Corporate IT Data-Science-as-a-Service (DSaaS) team. Our team has been active since 2012, providing Data Science (DS) services to different business units as part of EMC IT’s transformation to an agile and innovative IT-as-a-Service model.

Although we aimed for a technical blog, we thought that the first post should provide a broader context to the DSaaS offering and it will, therefore, be dedicated to the process of innovating and driving data science projects in the corporate environment.

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EMC IT Deploys Syncplicity: CIO Vic Bhagat Details the Enterprise Rollout

As data growth continues unabated, with users demanding performance across multiple devices, file sharing has become an indispensable part of successful collaboration and management. To support this growth, EMC IT embraced Syncplicity to provide our global workforce of more than 60,000 people with a fast, simple, reliable service to share the content they use every day. Syncplicity has proven to be a game changer and now comes out of the box for every new EMCer.

With speed and efficiency, EMC IT migrated nearly the entire enterprise onto Syncplicity within mere months. How? Watch below as EMC Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat (@VicBhagat) discusses the rollout of Syncplicity.

Want more information? Watch EMC Chief Security Officer Dave Martin address the security elements behind Syncplicity. You can also read the following content that further details Syncplicity’s place within the EMC service catalog.

(blog) Syncplicity and EMC: Providing File Sync & Share For All
(white paper) EMC IT Deploys Syncplicity With Private Cloud Storage
(white paper)
How EMC IT Deployed Syncplicity With On-Premises Storage  

The EMC IT Transformation Journey: Making Big Bets and Taking Bold Action

By Jon Peirce — Senior Vice President, EMC IT 

A big mistake companies make as they work to transform their IT operation is thinking that they can achieve that change without making some bold, big bets.

CIOs and IT leaders I talk with often reason, “if we make a bunch of little incremental steps, we’ll get to where we want to get.”

That is absolutely not the case, because when you make small incremental steps, in most cases, you’re ruling by consensus; you’re letting the silos dictate the strategy and the direction. And in the end, there are so many vested interests in traditional IT organizations, that a CIO or a VP of infrastructure responding to consensus can end up missing the bigger picture.

You’re engineering complexity into the system, as opposed to taking complexity out. The bigger picture is that there is an entirely different model that we need to get to as quickly as we can, and to do that requires some bold moves.

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Leaving Las Vegas: Thoughts from EMC World 2014

VicBy Vic Bhagat — EMC Chief Information Officer
@VicBhagat

With wheels up and the neon lights of Las Vegas behind me, I reflected on two days spent with nearly 80 global CIOs at EMC’s fourth annual CIO Summit.  Whether in our panel discussions, collaborative breakout sessions, or during the networking breaks, we tackled a variety of timely topics for CIOs.

Of course, it would be overly ambitious to say we collectively solved all that ails CIOs because we have just scratched the surface.  However, faced with pressure to provide our businesses and users with agile, elastic and contemporary IT services, we only saw an opportunity to unlock more value.  Here are some takeaways from the Summit conversation:

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The EMC IT Transformation Journey: CIO Squeeze Play Shows Changing IT World

By Jon Peirce — Senior Vice President, EMC IT

The reality is if your IT organization is working to transform into an IT-as-a-Service model to meet changing user demands, you didn’t just wander onto that path. Transformation is typically not something you do when everything is good… it’s a response to disruptive influences that make the status quo increasingly untenable.

To understand what’s driving today’s IT transformation groundswell, you need only look at the escalating pressures facing the CIO in a traditional IT operation. On one side, you have external IT service providers, promoting standardized offerings with friction-free consumption experiences and pay-by-the-drink pricing selling directly to the lines of business in competition with corporate IT.  On the other side, many CIOs contend with Corporate Finance models that want to treat corporate IT like a regulated monopoly–rationing the supply of IT in order to keep total IT costs in check.

While corporate IT may have once been somewhat of a monopoly within an enterprise, those days are long gone.  Increasingly tech savvy business users, empowered by consumerization trends and an explosion in IT services offered from the public cloud, are finding alternatives to corporate IT.  They perceive IT as too slow, too expensive, too restrictive and too rooted in traditional thinking.

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Big Data Analytics: Unlocking New Potential in the IT Service Portfolio

The changing IT landscape requires not only the provisioning of the latest tools, technologies and assets, but the embracing and leveraging the technology – especially Big Data analytics – to achieve true transformation. Through greater inclusion of Big Data analytics into our IT portfolio, EMC IT has made tremendous strides optimizing how it runs IT.  However, the greater value rests within our ability to package Big Data analytics and provide the business with a consumable, self-service model.

For instance, with Business Analytics as a Service, we are empowering our constituents to plan, map and create solutions that best support their specific needs. Leveraging Greenplum technology, the analytics generated allow users to co-locate terabytes of corporate information from various data warehouses within a single platform. The solution is agile, reduces time to market and fosters a strong relationship between IT and the business.

In a recent Q&A with DataQuest magazine, EMC Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat addresses the role of Big Data analytics in driving business value, how emerging technologies affect his role as CIO and much more.

Follow Vic on Twitter @VicBhagat

IT Financial Transparency and VMware: Driving Innovation, Reducing Costs

By Neil Thibodeau — Senior Director, IT Business Management

As I mentioned in my last blog (IT Financial Transparency: Eyes Wide Open), we continue to improve the quality and detail of information we provide to customers as part of our ITaaS Financial Transparency journey. The ability to deliver more specific costing geared to individual customers, something I discussed in “eyes wide open”, also necessitated the creation of a new cost model that more accurately aligns with our service definitions and our expectations for creating a true Bill of IT.

In 2013, when we realized that we needed to redesign our cost model, we also decided to ask ourselves if we had the right technology solution to meet our future needs.  At that time we faced the choice of creating a new cost model in Apptio – the solution we had started with – or finding another solution that better fulfilled our requirements.

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For Fundamental Application Challenges, The Fix Is In The Cloud

By Wissam Halabi — Distinguished Engineer and Chief Infrastructure Architect , EMC IT

While there are many reasons for corporate IT operations to embrace private cloud computing and transform to an IT-as-a-Service model, optimizing the performance of basic IT tools like email storage, database management and file sharing are among the compelling motivators.

Consider, for example, the fact that EMC IT faced challenges with its use of three fundamental Microsoft applications that many companies—perhaps yours—have long relied on: SharePoint for collaboration, SQL Server for database management, and Exchange for email.
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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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