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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Syncplicity and EMC: Providing File Sync & Share For All

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

Like email and mobile capabilities, the ability of members of your organization to safely share large files via multiple devices online with colleagues and partners is a fundamental need in today’s business world. That’s why EMC IT is making online file sharing and mobile collaboration available to all of its employees as a “birthright” when they join EMC.

It’s also why we expect to have all of our 48,000 users converted from using consumer cloud services to using our in-house enterprise online filing share and mobile collaboration tool—Syncplicity—by the end of Q2 2014.

In fact, we managed to migrate some 36,000 IT users to Syncplicity and away from using unapproved collaboration tools within just three months of launching this in-house tool about a year ago.
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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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EMC In The Fast Lane Toward The Third Platform

By KK Krishnakumar, VP and Chief IT Architect

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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A Digital Universe of Infinite Possibilities

VicBy Vic Bhagat — EMC Chief Information Officer

The digital universe, which is expected to grow to 44 zettabytes by 2020, represents an infinite opportunity for CIOs to drive agility and accelerate value for an organization.  However, as a CIO, I can’t help pausing for a moment of practicality. 

Let’s consider some of the 2020 projections from IDC’s recent study.

  • The digital universe is doubling every two years.
  • Although consumers will create most of the content, enterprises today are responsible and liable for 85% of the digital universe.
  • The available storage will only be able to store less than 15% of the universe.
  • 40% of the data in the digital universe will be “touched” by the cloud.

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How To Increase Confidence in IT? Foster Better Communication with the Business

Today, enterprises are facing more cybersecurity threats and risks than ever before, demanding more resources from both IT organizations and their associated businesses. Yet, the confluence of decision making from the business and the financial, technological and security requirements from IT remain a source of conflict for many organizations. They key to reaching a resolution? Communication, says Dave Martin, EMC’s Chief Security Officer, who offered five tips to getting started in his recent blog for Forbes Magazine.

The 2013 Global IT Trust Curve Survey, published by EMC and RSA, dives deeper into the hurdles facing IT and business leaders.  Also check out a previous blog from Doug Graham, Senior Director, Global Security Office – Risk Management at EMC, who discussed Communicating Risk Management in the Face of Constant Threats.

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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Securing the Cloud: Work With Users to Build Best Practices

By Steen Christensen — Director of Information Security, EMC Global Security Organization

In today’s rapidly changing IT world, business users in your organization are going to seek the agility and increased capabilities of the cloud whether or not your IT operation sanctions it. So your efforts to provide IT security in the cloud need to start with embracing that fact and working to build secure practices from there.

In EMC’s Global Security Organization, we found that the best way to secure the cloud is to actually become a part of it rather than trying to fight it. As a part of the solution, you can build better, secure offerings that will allow you to protect your data and get a better experience for the user.

For the past nine months, GSO has been identifying shadow IT applications (or business-managed IT) in the cloud using a security monitoring appliance, RSA NetWitness, in conjunction with increased security analytics.  This gives us a comprehensive view of our network traffic, including shadow IT.  And rather than blocking those shadow users from continuing their cloud-based operations, we work with them to provide IT-controlled solutions that will still serve their business needs in a secure way.

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Working in the Cloud: Taking a Fresh Look at Today’s Jobs

By Phyllis Doig — Consultant Business Systems Analyst, EMC Office of Architecture and Innovation

On your organization’s journey to the cloud, having people with the right skills, framework and perspective to maximize your cloud technology is crucial.  Whether you are looking to recruit new talent or striving to help support the continued advancement of those already staffing your IT operation, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at today’s jobs related to cloud services.

I was part of a team at EMC that recently did just that and would like to pass along what we found about these evolving IT roles.

We realized that there is a need for more information on IT jobs and how they have been transformed by the larger industry trends of cloud, big data, social and mobile technologies.  Together with my colleague Chhavi Gupta, an EMC engineer, we began researching jobs in the cloud last summer for a paper on the subject. We recently presented our findings at a national engineering conference hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Striving To Be Less Necessary: Developing Future Security Leaders Is Crucial

By Doug Graham, Senior Director, Global Security Office – EMC IT

I would no doubt turn a few heads if I said, “I’m trying really hard to get to the point where I make no decisions and do no work.” But the fact is, if I ever got to that point as Senior Director for EMC’s Global Security Office, I would be an extremely effective leader by developing my team to lead without me.

I don’t expect to get to that state of leadership obsolescence any time soon. However, I know that a crucial part of being a leader in today’s new Information Security paradigm is working to develop future leaders in our organizations. And one of the hardest things about leading is developing leadership skills in others because as you do, you frankly become less necessary.

Those are some of the points I explored in a workshop about Developing Cross Functional Leadership Skills at the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco.

While I am sure that many of the conference attendees will be there to learn new technical skills to be better leaders, these skills are only one of many ways leaders gain power and influence in their organizations.

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Putting Customer Happiness First: EMC IT’s New-Look IT Service Management

By Dana Swanstrom — Director of IT Service Management, EMC IT

If early results are any indication, EMC IT Service Management is making its customer 30 percent happier than we did two years ago. We are also giving them more control over addressing IT Service incidents via self-service options, cutting down on reassignments of their service requests from one service agent to another, and using more standardized processes resulting in fewer emergency service issues.

It’s all part of EMC IT’s recent initiative to transform our clients’ IT service experience by forging a new IT Service Management (ITSM) program that optimizes service management processes and technologies.

The project, which we call UnITy, was a massive undertaking to replace our outdated, inconsistent and less-than-agile ITSM processes and obsolete platforms to better meet the evolving needs of our customers.

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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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Why EMC IT Virtualized SAP HANA with VMware™

By Michael Harding — Lead SAP Technical Architect, EMC IT

As our IT transformation journey here within EMC IT has been largely predicated on the benefits of virtualization, we continue to fold this strategy into our new implementations.  After going live with a “greenfield” SAP ERP implementation in 2012, we have more recently been focusing on enabling our business users and analytics through SAP HANA.  Not surprisingly, we are actively leveraging the power of VMware to support our SAP HANA rollout.

Many of the benefits of running SAP on a virtual platform apply to Virtualized HANA as well:

  • Cost and resource management (CAPEX and OPEX), leading to increased ROI
  • Increased flexibility and agility to quickly adjust to changing demands
  • Embedded High Availability
  • Efficiencies in automation

While we were certainly aware that there could be some minimal performance impacts of running Virtualized HANA versus a “traditional” physical appliance (yes, quotes are intentional), we felt that the operational and cost benefits far outweigh these impacts.  And as a service provider, does it matter?  The business users are abstracted from physical versus Virtualized HANA… and the advantages they’ve gained from a simple migration from a traditional RDBMS to Virtualized HANA have proven substantial.

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The EMC Durham Cloud Data Center Migration: Inventing a Better Way

By Stephen Doherty, Consultant IT Project Manager

In my last post, (click here to read Part 5) I explained how we set up a Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) bridge between our old and new datacenters that would allow us to use Storage VMotion to transfer VMs and data to our new Private Cloud datacenter.  It worked very well.  We could move VMs and data pretty effectively.  However, setting them up and getting them to run an application was more of a challenge. We had to roll back one of the first three applications that we tried to migrate; the other two took us a long time to trouble shoot and configure.

The solution to minimize risk and downtime seemed obvious to me.  It was just like a technology refresh in the physical world.  Build a new environment with all new components and test it.  Once all the bugs were worked out then you could synch the data and cutover.  Why did I need to move a VM when making another one was just as easy and would provide an opportunity to configure and test it?

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Tech Prediction for 2014: IT’s Ability to Evolve Quickly

VicBy Vic Bhagat — Chief Information Officer

The era of instant gratification is upon us with the proliferation of cloud computing and software-as-a-service, Big Data and the latest analytical tools, and anywhere, anytime access to information on our mobile devices.

Our true test as IT professionals will be our ability to evolve quickly to create contemporary and innovative solutions and apps that enable our users to be more productive, to analyze Big Data for real-time information, and to make decisions that unlock value for the business.

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Don’t Fear Big Data: Leverage the Right People and Take It Easy

By KK Krishnakumar — Vice President and Chief IT Architect

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 Art of Possible: Embracing the Third Platform

VicBy Vic Bhagat — Chief Information Officer

As IT professionals, we have never been strangers to change.  New technologies have come and gone…some minor, some quite disruptive.  However, the Third Platform is upon us and has opened the door to new opportunities to drive performance, agility and value for our businesses.

While I’ve been a part of each platform throughout my 30+ years in the industry, this is the first time that so many trends – cloud, Big Data, analytics, mobile, social, digital and security – have converged simultaneously.  This presents some challenges for CIOs and IT professionals.

Economist_StrategicCIO_coverFor instance, a recent Economist Intelligence Unit Survey cited that while 92% of those surveyed are familiar with these emerging technologies and trends, only 50% know how to integrate them into their business.

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The EMC Durham Cloud Data Center Migration: A Long Night of Lessons Learned

Fifth in a series on EMC’s Durham Data Center.

By Steve Doherty — Consultant IT Project Manager

With the migration plan completed (click here to read part 4) for EMC’s Durham Data Center, we began the daunting task of the migration. We weren’t going to use trucks or airplanes to move the gear. We were going to migrate all the applications and data over the wire. The fact that it really hadn’t been done before was a technical challenge that we would just have to overcome.

In late Q4 2010, as we were completing the Durham Data Center infrastructure build (click here to read part 2) our migration team began experimenting.

The first attempt was a straight virtual to virtual (V2V) migration over the WAN.  We thought how cool would that be?  No downtime, little risk, we were already well over 50 percent virtualized.  It turns out the distance between North Carolina and Massachusetts is too far apart, more than 600 miles, which resulted in 25 milliseconds latency. The V2V experiment failed. It took nearly 30 hours to move one Virtual Machine. V2V migration wouldn’t work at that distance.  It also wasn’t a viable solution for the hundreds of physical servers that we were still running.

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EMC CIO Vic Bhagat Talks Emerging IT Trends

While visiting EMC offices in India, Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat met with Vishal Krishna of BW|BusinessWorld.  During the interview, Vic shared is perspective on emerging trends and opportunities in the IT industry from the growth of mobile to analytics to investments in the cloud. Click here to read the article.