EMC IT at EMC World 2011 …

Boy, EMC World in Las Vegas  was a blast. Many fabulous keynotes and a plethora of technical sessions on various product sets from EMC. And to add to the embarrassment of geeky riches, there was the first Data Scientist Summit too- filled with some of the smartest minds in the world talking about really cool things you can do with big data, scale-out databases like Greenplum,  frameworks like Hadoop and some great visualization techniques ! Several customer and analyst meetings beyond all this. And of course, the Vegas setting itself was unparalleled …

EMC IT had a booth in the Solutions Pavilion with focus on 8 different topics (see the EMC IT Proven site for more information)  – IT’s Journey to the Cloud, IT as a service, the Durham Cloud Data Center, Big Data Analytics using Greenplum, Virtualizing Mission Critical Applications, Data Mobility and VPLEX, Choice Computing focusing on Virtual Desktops and Mobility, and Enterprise Applications and Cloud Integration. In addition, we also had an Expert Bar (a la the famous genius bar) where some of our experts could do deep-dives into different topics. Good amount of traffic and excellent discussions with customers. We also had a birds-of-a-feather session on IT as a service – very well attended and many many questions and discussions from the audience around chargeback models, organizational changes, technology maturity etc.
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Durham Cloud Data Center: Disaster Resiliency

The EMC IT Durham Cloud Data Center survived its first major run in with Mother Nature.  On Saturday April 16th at least 25 tornados touched down across North Carolina making it the state’s most active tornado season on record.  A tornado that traveled 63 miles through Sanford, Holly Springs and Raleigh had top winds of 160 miles per hour and caused major damage.  I am happy to report that the Durham Cloud Data Center’s redundant infrastructure worked flawlessly and more importantly none of our EMC employee’s were hurt or affected by the storm.

The map shows the tracks of many of the tornados and the Durham Cloud Data Center was in the middle of all the activity.

The data center did experience a power outage but the new Flywheel UPS infrastructure and the generators kicked in (within 10 seconds of power loss) and provided uninterrupted power throughout the event.

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Designing a world-class cloud data center


Designing a multimillion-dollar cloud data center from scratch—the focus of my efforts over the last year—is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

We were running out of capacity in our enterprise data center in Westborough, MA, and after considering all of the options we decided to build a new, highly efficient virtual data center located in Durham, North Carolina.

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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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We are on Cloud 9 …

Yes, indeed ! Cloud 9 is the IaaS offering that Chris Asing and his team from EMC IT’s Private Cloud Infrastructure Group have been building in the last few months. Now you can “provision and go”, as Chris would say. Cloud 9 is based on vCloud Director and starts to answer many of the demands on EMC IT to be more agile in provisioning infrastructure for short-term needs.  Continue reading

It has been a while …

I have been dormant for a couple of months. But a very Happy New Year to you. More posts will be coming your way on cloud, IT as a service, and other interesting topics. Others from EMC IT will be joining in the party as well.

In the meantime, see this post on Steve Todd’s blog. Also, Peter Hanselman and I will be doing a BrightTalk webinar on Jan 12, 2011. Comments most welcome …

Database as a service …

Let us jump in feet first into ‘database as a service’. So what do we mean by this ? We have three database platforms that we can provide ‘slices’ of to our business users. Oracle and SQL Server have been the traditional platforms we have built upon and Greenplum is something we have adopted quickly and which lends itself to ‘database as  a service’ very well.

How have we done this ? Tier, Consolidate, Virtualize

Of course, this has been a journey on its own merit. We started off by looking at the database tiering models required based on business criticality, required availability and I/O profiles. At EMC, we separate the mission criticalapplications and databases (as in revenue impacting and/or customer facing, typically with stringent RTO/RPO and data loss constraints) from the business critical applications and databases (impacting subprocesses vs enterprise processes).

To gain efficiencies of scale, we decided to consolidate mission-critical Oracle and business critical into 3 and 8 node Oracle grid architecture (and along the way reduced the number of Oracle versions from 9 down to 1). We also consolidated and virtualized a number of production and non-production databases for the business critical side. This consolidation and virtualization exercise resulted in the reduction of databases and database servers from 50+ to single digits. This has provided the basic technology foundation for implementing database as a service on the Oracle platform. The current environment provides us a mechanism by which a large environment can be sliced to service different needs at different points of time, with standardized and published service levels and predictable scalability and performance.

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How Private Cloud Shakes Up Traditional IT Roles

Reproduced from CIO.com :

“A move to private cloud will transform what CIOs need from their IT teams. Sanjay Mirchandani, Senior VP and CIO at EMC, shares his vision of how private cloud will reshape IT roles and how leaders should prepare now to cross-train their best and brightest.”

By Sanjay Mirchandani, Senior VP and CIO at EMC Corp.
Wed, October 20, 2010

Here’s the link to the full article on CIO.com.

Platform-as-a-service – a shallow dive

In the last post, we talked about how the ultimate nirvana is for the business to do self-service provisioning of services from a service catalog. This is somewhat easy to think about when we consider compute, storage and network services – the virtual bare metal gets provisioned within a short period of time and is made available for the user. The SLAs are typically around uptime, recovery point objective (RPO) during failure, recovery time objective (RTO) after failure, etc. This concept becomes more interesting when we talk about PaaS.

The Platform in PaaS refers to a set of capabilities that start with a base of (mostly) software components sitting above the virtual bare metal – examples we have talked about include basic capabilities such as a database, web server and application server but also extend into larger value-added capabilities such as application frameworks (Spring, .Net, force.com), content management, integration, security and information lifecycle management.

Now, once the slice of the platform is provisioned, who can configure or program to the platform ? Continue reading

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

At VMWorld 2010 …

Wow – being at VMWorld 2010 has been such a rush. So many new things being announced and what a congregation of smart folks (a mind-boggling 17K) who are all changing the way IT works. There are a number of us from EMC and EMC IT who have been lapping it all up. Many, many customer product meetings as well and such a lot to share and learn.

So highlights for me so far ?

Paul Maritz in his keynote on Tuesday emphasized that the broader vision of virtualization in the enterprise is ‘IT as a service’ (hear, hear!) He also painted the picture of hybrid clouds being part of the enterprise future. Steve Herrod followed those thoughts up with the Project Horizon vision, where the consumer cloud experience of today will be made available seamlessly for the enterprise user and where the user experience is being provisioned vs. the physical desktop provisioning model today.  We in EMC IT are huge fans of the models described by Paul and Steve. You may remember that at EMC World in May earlier this year,  Sanjay Mirchandani, EMC CIO (and my boss, so I better be careful what I say) had talked about exactly the notion of IT-as-a-service and how we are adapting ourselves within EMC IT to  the fundamental changes implied by IT as a service and how “IT is being built, consumed, operated and governed differently”. Continue reading

Another Progress Report on EMC IT’s Journey To The Private Cloud

Reposted from Chuck Hollis’s blog entry on 5/7/2010:

By now, you’re probably aware that our IT organization is in the process of pivoting from a traditional IT model to one where they look like an internal service provider — using IT infrastructure that’s built differently, operated differently and consumed differently.

Our IT organization is no different than many others. EMC is a global, diverse and fast-moving technology company. We want our IT to be better, faster and cheaper just like everyone else.

But they’ve got a special challenge …they’re part of an extremely aggressive IT infrastructure company: EMC. Continue reading

Justifying VDI – Part One

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

To Vblock, Or Not To Vblock

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

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

Long Distance Data Centers: The Hard Part

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

Harnessing Armchair CIOs

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