EMC's Version of the Future of IT

Posted on June 11, 2014 By David Hill


What really struck me about VCE, though, was an example that Howard Elias, president and COO of Global Enterprise Services for EMC, offered. A healthcare enterprise that adopted VCE three years ago had grown from $4 billion to $12 billion in annual revenues. Despite that success, there were some critics of IT for having brought VCE in in the first place. An independent outside consulting study concluded that the company would only have grown to $7 billion and not $12 billion revenues without VCE! Infrastructure matters and then some! But why?

The answer is that converged infrastructures can simplify complex computing and business processes. Complexity equals costs — product acquisition, product integration, product upgrades, the people required to make things happen and revenue-robbing downtime are among them. Individual decisions on compute, storage, and networking elements may be locally optimum (i.e., the best choice for the moment) but create stove-piped silos that require specialized expertise.

In contrast, converged solutions create a global optimum (i.e., an integrated solution that leverages skill sets across the entire infrastructure and improves overall reliability (uptime) and performance for applications). The converged infrastructure is simpler to manage, but that simplicity also provides business advantages. Yes, there are cost savings, both in product and people. That is a useful outcome, but the main objective is to free up resources that can be directed toward attracting new business. That occurs both through new applications that can effectively use the new infrastructure, as well as to the ability of the infrastructure itself to respond to increased demands without requiring additional funds that might be hard or impossible to obtain.

So why doesn’t everyone adopt converged infrastructure solutions like VCE’s Vblocks? Because the IT organization has to be willing to embrace massive change, and that is not something that everyone is willing or able to accept. Yet isn’t that willingness to redefine what is being done the essence of moving to the private cloud? The converged infrastructure is not the only way to the cloud nor is it the total of what needs to be done. However, converting complexity into simplicity can matter to the business as a whole and not just in IT cost savings.

Elastic Cloud Storage for PB Scale Storage

VCE tackles the job of redefining the requirements for traditional IT infrastructures, but no one size fits all workloads and use cases. EMC has a wide range of products, including traditional ones, such as VNX, VMAX, and Isilon, as well as a number of other initiatives, including software-defined storage (ViPR) and the hybrid cloud. The new Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance is the company’s entry into the PB and above cloud space. In one sense, ECS brings the scale of public cloud to the private cloud with the control and security that many enterprises feel that they need with the private cloud. However, service providers can also take advantage of ECS.

In essence, ECS is a software/hardware appliance where software manages modular pools of commodity hard disk drives (HDDs) in a manner analogous to the mega-clouds of Amazon and Google. In fact, ECS makes the claim that it has a 9% to 28% lower TCO in object storage implementations than those public clouds. The large data volumes are needed to deal with the data-driven requirements of third platform use cases involving mobile, cloud, social and big data. ECS is geared for large throughput use cases rather than low latency, and high performance use cases that would require flash memory. ECS manages block, object and HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) data requirements.

Basically, EMC is enabling large enterprise customers to build their own hyperscale private cloud. This works competitively, as ECS should help the company stem business losses to public cloud providers. However, EMC is also offering a means for a service provider to deliver a public cloud at competitive prices to the mega-clouds.

Mesabi Musings

IT always seems to be about managing old, established and ongoing requirements while coming to grips with new requirements that come from emerging trends. Failure to properly balance the needs of both the old and the new is not something that can be tolerated and enterprises have to be constantly thinking about what is necessary to maintain that balance. EMC’s use of the word “redefine” is a useful way of thinking about how to maintain that balance.

At EMC World 2014, the company focused on how customers could “redefine” their efforts especially in their relationship to emerging Third Platform requirements but not ignoring the other two platforms. Here VCE provided a means of change for the existing IT infrastructures and the new ECS appliance qualified as an example of meeting hyperscale cloud storage requirements.

However, it is critically important to know how the vendors that you deal with or may deal with in the future are achieving this balance. As we saw at EMC World 2014, EMC is in the continuous process of “redefining” itself as illustrated by its ongoing federation, its organic investments in solutions like ECS and its inorganic investments, such as the acquisition of DSSD. Redefine is a code word for managing ongoing change, and EMC World 2014 proved that process is alive and well at EMC.

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