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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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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Labor Allocation For Production Support: A Ticket To Increased Efficiency

 By Neil Thibodeau — Senior Director, IT Management

Third blog in a three-part series on labor sourcing

In my previous two blogs about labor allocation, I talked about how EMC IT’s move to an IT as a Service business model required us to redefine our sourcing strategy.  I described our transition to a variable consumption model, how we are gaining efficiencies from labor pooling and continuous improvement activities. In my final labor sourcing blog, I will explore how we applied this strategy to Production Support Services.

As noted in my second blog, using EMC IT’s new variable consumption-based labor model for Production Support Services (PS) is a bit trickier than for other types of service delivery in that it’s a non-discretionary spend and is usually a reaction to when something is broken. It does, however, still offer plenty of potential for increased efficiencies.

Production Support Services are measured by the number of “tickets” IT issues. Tickets are the means by which we track business unit requests to resolve issues with IT assets. Because they are logged with each problem that customers report and seek help on, tickets are completely variable. Since most tickets involve issues that need to be resolved in a specific amount of time (SLA), you could get into trouble in a pay-per-unit-of-work contract model. In other words, you will pay for all tickets generated for an application since it’s non-discretionary. Since the demand is not typically within the control of the customer, it puts a lot of pressure on IT to understand the drivers behind the ticket volumes.

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Accessing ePaaS With A Few Clicks: EMC Pioneers Automated Services

By Norm Simmonds – Consulting System Administrator, EMC IT and James Nuzzo – Senior IT Applications Development Manager

 
Allowing business users to create their own application landscapes with a few clicks of a button is no longer a futuristic vision. At EMC, we are developing 100 percent automated delivery of Enterprise Platform as a Service (ePaaS) using high-level cloud architecture and a self-service IT as a Service catalog.

This breakthrough in automated IT service delivery is part of EMC’s ongoing journey to the Cloud. Over the past several years, we have realized significant cost savings in transforming our IT operation into a fully automated service delivery organization.

ePaaS is the on-demand delivery of automated IT platform operations as a service, including compute, network, storage, data protection, monitoring, and application development. It allows development and IT administrators to create, modify or decommission application environments, as well as monitoring those applications via a single access point, much more rapidly than a traditional IT model.

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Building The IT Factory: IT as a Service Hinges On Process Automation

By Norm Simmonds – Consulting System Administrator, EMC IT

From determining business needs to defining and pricing a service portfolio to meet them, transitioning your organization’s IT operation to an IT as a Service (ITaaS) model is a complex and challenging process. A crucial aspect of that transformation that you may not immediately focus on is the need to automate the delivery of those services.

The fact is, ITaaS is an empty promise without process automation. It is the only way IT can meet users’ demands for consistent services in an agile, on-demand timeframe not typical of the traditional IT model of the past.

After establishing a service portfolio and launching our ITaaS catalog at EMC, we are in the process of developing an end-to-end global orchestration process to automate our service delivery. While we are still evolving our system, what follows are some of the insights we have gained over the past year.

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EMC Accelerates Business Operations With SAP

The virtualization of EMC’s global computing infrastructure has commanded long-term dedication to re-engineer the way we manage our internal systems and processes — our IT Transformation. As part of the journey, one of the most important system re-design has been our enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. A few years ago, our old ERP had reached critical mass. It was aged, far too customized and increasingly became a hurdle to EMC operating at a speed demanded within a global enterprise. Knowing something had to change, EMC entered into a partnership with SAP to revolutionize our ERP platform.

In the summer of 2012, that mission — code named PROPEL — came to fruition. Through unprecedented collaboration between EMC’s business units and IT, 500 employees, consultants, systems integrators and partners completed a remarkably quick 27-month implementation of the new ERP system. The new system provided EMC with the transformative platform required to meet our everyday business needs. When the project team rang the bell on PROPEL, it instantly incorporated more than 8,000 global users which fundamentally changed the way EMC operates, providing new methods of collaboration, faster financial reporter, application integration and more.

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EMC IT Takes a Holistic Approach to Optimizing Business Capabilities

By KK Krishnakumar, Vice President & Chief IT Architect

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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You Can Take Financial Transparency Further: Getting the Business Perspective on IT Spending

Providing business users with financial transparency about your company’s IT services doesn’t just promote business unit (BU) participation in their own IT consumption choices; it can also be a great tool to make sure enterprise-wide IT initiatives are on track in meeting business and corporate objectives.

After launching financial transparency last year as part of our IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) model, EMC IT invited business unit leaders to meet with IT executives to share details and opinions about our enterprise IT spending. They got to discuss their views with each other on a list of teed up enterprise IT initiatives— those projects that have cross-business benefits as opposed to serving a single business unit. In fact, we asked them to vote on the enterprise initiatives to help us rank their importance.

We used business leaders’ feedback to turn what was previously a less than precise approach to setting our enterprise IT spending priorities into a much more refined list of which initiatives we should spend money on and which should wait.  In addition, we’ve maintained the goal of continuing to shift our overall EMC IT budget to enterprise initiatives.

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Business Units Embrace Big Data Analytics: Sales & Marketing Use Case Showcases Value of Business-Analytics-as-a-Service (BAaaS)

Hindsight may be 20/20, but when it comes to Big Data Analytics, foresight is where the business gains really lie. Therefore,  a project by two key EMC business groups uses our newly established Business-Analytics-as-a-Service (BAaaS) offering to gain foresight into future sales and marketing opportunities. It isan exciting milestone on our journey into the world of truly advanced analytics.

The project is called MARS — a joint effort to use BAaaS to consolidate customer, sales and marketing data from multiple sources into a single data repository using the Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform. The initiative, which creates Master Analytical Records — or MARS — for each customer, will provide both Sales and Marketing with easily accessible and accurate data for advanced analysis and modeling that will guide future sales and marketing efforts.

Our BAaaS offering enables EMC’s business units to rent an “analytic workspace” with the analytics capabilities to conduct their own data analysis projects. The offering provides full access to EMC’s previously restricted corporate data assets. Users can also mine data from multiple sources beyond EMC’s traditional corporate data sources for their research. If this data proves to be valuable to the ongoing analysis, users can work with IT to get it added to the central “data hub.” This data hub is managed by IT, freeing the business from the responsibility of ensuring the data is loaded, reliable and secure.

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Window To Our Private Cloud: Automating Operations Management for Our Cloud Infrastructure

By Mike Leach - Management & Automation, IT Enterprise Management and Automation Services

Today’s dynamic cloud infrastructure requires a modern approach to IT operations management. Traditional tools and processes designed for static physical environments overwhelm you with monitoring data, alerts and open questions. They’re not designed for highly scalable, dynamic and virtualized infrastructure.

As a result, end users are often first to report performance problems, putting more pressure on IT because of a fundamental lack of visibility into the true health and efficiency of both infrastructure and applications running in today’s “cloud” datacenters.

And as these datacenters become more and more virtualized, traditional IT operations management and automation teams face new challenges in their efforts to effectively manage and protect IT infrastructure under their management and supervision.

EMC IT’s Enterprise Management and Automation Services (EMAS) team is implementing the latest EMC and VMware automation tools to not only meet the complex needs of today’s cloud environment but also support EMC IT’s shift to an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) delivery model.
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The Proof is in the Process: People, Process and Technology are Essential for Successful IT Operations.

The Proof is in the Process
People, Process, and Technology are essential for successful IT operations.

These days we are all talking about IT cloud enablement or IT-as-a-Service, and increasingly these conversations are now about optimizing IT processes to facilitate successful cloud deployment. Based on my own past experience as a technologist, I thought that the most important (and cool) thing to do in IT was deploy the latest and greatest technology. However, today, I am linking technology evolution to process integration because only by optimizing our IT processes will we enable cloud computing successfully. I recently read Peter Fingar’s book, Dot.Cloud: The 21st Century Business Platform, and I’m sold on his notions of how the cloud can be applied to day-to-day business operations.

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IT-as-a-service

Ok, so Chuck beat us to it – he liberated our EMC IT slides here and they are all out and creating a buzz by themselves. A more elaborate explanation is needed on some of the content, so here goes for a start in outlining our thinking before I dive into details in future posts.

As Chuck called out, one of the key objectives in our journey to the Private Cloud is IT-as-a-service. IT-as-a-service starts with a focus on the customer (our own internal business units).  What does that mean ? It means  ensuring that we within IT can provide (i) the agility that is demanded by the business, (ii) at the desired quality of service, (iii) with the appropriate security, risk and compliance considerations, and of course (iv) at the right cost model. It also goes to the heart of customer satisfaction – the model of IT being the sole provider of services is long gone even as different SaaS and cloud offerings have enhanced what the customer can avail of. So our vision and goal for IT-as-a-service is to optimize both the IT delivery and business consumption of  services and be the service provider of choice. Continue reading

Trust, But Verify

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

Getting More For Less By Virtualizing Oracle

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

Why EMC IT Is Going “All In” On Private Clouds – Part 5

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

Why EMC IT Is Going “All In” On Private Clouds – Part 4

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

Integrating RSA Security in EMC’s Private Cloud

Join Nirav Mehta, Senior Manager of Product Management at RSA, as he describes RSA’s view on virtualization security and how EMC’s security division is participating in EMC IT’s Journey to the Private Cloud. It includes some examples, such as ways EMC IT is using RSA technology to secure virtualized desktops.

David Freund also provided some background in this post.

Security: Don’t Leave (Physical) Home Without It

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.”

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Calculating Desktop Virtualization Costs/Savings

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.

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Chronicling EMC IT’s Private Cloud Journey

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.

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