Transformation: EMC World 2012

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EMC World 2012Looking out from the main stage at EMC World last week, into a live audience of 10,500 faces, and standing in front of a 400 ft long screen behind me, I couldn’t help thinking how big EMC’s annual customer conference has grown since its inception. We held the first one in 2001, when 1,381 customers attended. Eleven years later, the crowd (and the screen!) have grown by an order of magnitude. That’s a lot of growth in one decade.

And it speaks to EMC’s growing influence in transforming the IT industry for the era of cloud computing and Big Data.

For those of you who weren’t able to join us at EMC World, here are some points I shared at the conference in my keynote presentation to our customers and in interviews with the press and analysts.

Everything Is Changing

Information technology is undergoing a fundamental transformation that will reshape the industry landscape. Driving the transformation are new technology breakthroughs (offering unprecedented levels of IT automation and affordability) and the need for greater business productivity and agility.

Everything is changing. The chipsets and cloud technologies are X86, multi-core technology. The typologies now are virtualized scale out. Memory is now measured in terabytes. Networking is now moving to IPV6. Storage is a blend of disk and flash. New data models are emerging, like Hadoop and SQL and others will come into vogue and great use. As for programming languages, we’re moving to frameworks like Spring, Rails, Nodes.js, etc. What’s the killer app going to be in this new wave of IT transformation? I’ll predict and bet anybody that the killer apps are going to be all around real-time, predictive analytics. We’re now in the post-PC era, where the end user devices are PCs, virtual PCs, tablets, and smart phones from many different vendors, using many different operating systems, whether they be Android, iOS, Windows or others to come. Unit costs continue to drop, making new ways of working much more affordable and pervasive.

Hybrid Clouds Will Win

Hybrid cloud computing will become pervasive, ending the debate about whether public clouds or private clouds will win. Most large enterprises will use their private clouds to manage mission critical workloads on-premise or in a hosted private cloud. They are also using public clouds and service providers they trust for such things as test and development of new applications, for less critical workloads like payroll processing, and for extra capacity to handle seasonal spikes in online business. So, the big debate going on about which cloud model will win (private or public?) is a silly question. The future will be a blend of the best of both worlds: public clouds and private clouds. In other words, hybrid clouds will win.

Information Is An Asset

A company’s lasting assets are its brand, its people, its business processes/applications, and its information. These don’t show up as financial assets on a balance sheet from a strict accounting point of view, but they are the enduring assets that differentiate one business from another.

Take information. We have to focus more than we have in the past on unstructured and semi-structured data. It’s five to seven times larger than a company or entity’s structured data living in relational databases, and it’s growing three times faster. And of course you want to use both unstructured and structured data to benefit your business. The world we’re addressing today has an enormously larger amount of data that’s available publicly or through partners. We call that the digital universe. The amount of data you have in any one of your organizations is tiny compared to what’s available in the digital universe. According to IDC, the digital universe is growing by more than 5,000 petabytes per day, and 80% of that is non-enterprise generated.

So the question facing organizations is, How do I tap into that data and blend it with my enterprise data in real time to give my business or agency an edge? That’s the challenge for tomorrow. That is what’s going to make the business of tomorrow successful. It’s an exciting world ahead with plenty of opportunity for everyone.

One Size Storage Does Not Fit All

All of this big data and massive amount of information will live on various storage media, from less expensive SATA drives that are now in the 3TB size range going into 4TB for 3.5” form factor, or it could live on FAT SAS… to high speed fiber channel or SAS drives with more performance at a little more cost… to higher performance, higher cost flash drives, all solid state devices; there are really two kinds of solid state devices: MLC technology (multi-level cell), and single level cell (SLC), with differences in performance and write endurance. And at the highest end of performance and cost, there is DRAM memory.

So where is the best place to store your data? The answer is, “It depends.” What’s the longevity of the information? What’s the usage of the information? What other applications is that information dealing with? How fast do you need that data to arrive at your user? All of that depends. What you want to do is minimize the cost of storage media with the maximum performance experience. So all forms of media are right for a certain use case. One size does not fit all. Anyone who tells you that one storage device can do everything — and equally well — is missing the boat here.

Hybrid storage arrays that incorporate flash and disk will handle the vast majority of workloads. The real critical part here is the automation software. We call it FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering). You set what service levels you need, what performance levels you need, what cost metrics you need to hit, what policies you need to adhere to — you set them, and then we will move the data automatically, very safely, very securely. This is the future of storage, and it is here now on EMC products. So the bottom line is, anybody who tells you that one size fits all is way off base. One size does not fit all.

The New Approach To Security

If there is one thing that is either going to accelerate the benefits of big data and cloud computing, or slow down those benefits – significantly slow down those benefits – it’s our ability as an industry to demonstrate trust and security in the big data assets and the cloud. In my opinion, that is what’s going to gate how fast the benefits of big data, real time predictive analytics and cloud computing will come to businesses and governments and all of us as individual users and consumers.

In the old world of IT security, things were much more static. We protected our computers if you will, our systems, with moats. You had to cross these moats or firewalls to get in. And in the mainframe computing wave, you had a proprietary network and terminal, so you didn’t really have to worry too much about antivirus. You didn’t have to worry too much about protecting your firewall, because everything was contained and proprietary. When you move to IP networking, when you move to almost any device you can think of as an end user device, the whole game changes. As we substituted PCs for terminals, the way the industry solved the new security problems that came up was to create the antivirus industry, and new companies were born and that technology was bolted on. Again, same thing happened when we substituted IP for proprietary networking typologies. The industry built firewall companies, and their solutions were bolted on.

In the cloud world, we’ve got a chance to clean this up a bit and build in some of these defenses. It’s a very dynamic world. The benefits of social networking and the openness and speed of computing make security harder. Today’s attackers are spear phishing, targeting specific individuals in your enterprise, using other companies in your supply chain as cover, and they’re actually stealing the identities of somebody in your company or at one of your partners’ companies. Now, when they get in, some of those older bolt-on security features become irrelevant, because the attackers have gotten in using stolen identities and credentials that the system recognizes as valid.

Therefore, what security must do is map the behavior of every IT user and monitor that and look for anomalies in behavior – in real time. This is a big data challenge. In real time, we have to be able to look at a user and say, this user has access rights to view this data, but I’ve never seen this user send data to Iran before, so maybe we should stop this until we can verify what is going on. This is how IT security is changing. We’ve got to change from the old static world of security to a much more dynamic approach to security, because if we do this right, there’s going to be tremendous acceleration in adoption of the cloud.

What To Expect From EMC

What else can you expect from EMC? EMC is and will remain a technology company. That means providing our customers with best of breed products. Not products that are merely ‘good enough’ but truly innovative products, all integrated as a family.

To maintain our technology leadership, we invest about 11 percent of revenues a year in R&D, in organic innovation. On top of that, we’ve spent about $2B a year on average in recent years to acquire great companies. We don’t talk about acquisitions until after they happen, but you can expect EMC to continue to acquire great companies with great technology and great people — in market segments where EMC competes.

We provide extra value to customers through our tight-knit partner ecosystem, including our unique product integration with VMware and Cisco, and other best of breed alliance partners, service providers and channel partners.

Saving the best for last, I will say that providing our customers with the absolute, best total experience in the industry is embedded in our culture, our DNA. In fact, I tell our employees that EMC2 stands for “Everyone Makes Customer Calls.” You can always depend on EMC for our reputation for product quality and superior service, and, most importantly, for our focus on you, our customers!

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