EMC Elect 2014

Alex Almeida

Alex Almeida

Technology Evangelist, Data Protection and Availability Division
My passion for technology started at an early age and has never stopped. Today, I find myself immersed in data protection. Yep, I live, breathe and tweet backup, availability and archive. In fact, nothing short of fully understanding how things work will keep me from digging deeper. But when I’m not evangelizing on the benefits of backup or technology in general, I can be spotted at a New England Revolution game, behind the lens of a camera or listening to my favorite albums on vinyl. In addition to blogging for The Protection Continuum, you can find me on the EMC Community Network. Also, I'm a member of EMC Elect 2014, and I'm active in the New England VMware User Group (NEVMUG) and the Virtualization Technology User Group (VTUG). Let's get technical!

EMC Elect 2014

First off, I wanted to say how honored and humbled I am to be a returning EMC Elect member in 2014. I have learned so much in the first year of being an Elect that I can only imagine what greatness is in store for me and being able to learn from this fantastic group of new and returning members.

For those readers that are not sure what “EMC Elect” is about, or have never heard of it, let me explain. As posted on our EMC Community Page (Login/Account Required):

“EMC Elect is a community-driven recognition and thank you for individual’s engagement with EMC as a brand over the last calendar year.”

While that is the most concise and accurate statement describing the program at a high level, having what it takes to become EMC Elect in my mind is where the true value of this program shines through.

There are three pillars that each member selected into this program stand on:

  • Engagement - EMC Elect revolves around a person’s social engagement and advocacy for the EMC brand, its products, and philosophy. Engagement usually takes place through social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs, but can also include the level of engagement and contributions (speaking opportunities, etc.) that a member makes at industry events and conferences.
  • Commitment - This attribute comes in the form of being involved in industry conversation on a consistent basis, particularly surrounding EMC technology topics. However, more importantly, commitment is shown through constructive feedback helping efforts to improve not only EMC Elect or EMC and it’s products but also the technology industry as well.
  • Leadership - To put it simply, it’s all about initiative. EMC Elect are always ready to take the opportunity to engage and represent for the betterment of the community and the EMC Brand.

I want to go ahead and congratulate those that have been announced this morning as EMC Elect 2014. In particular, my fellow co-workers in the EMC Data Protection and Availability Division:

If you have a minute, take a look at their respective blogs and give them an EMC Elect congratulatory Twitter Follow!

While all of the EMC Elect 2014 should be recognized, the real winner in all of this is EMC’s customers and the industry as a whole. I speak for the group of Elect in saying that our main mission is to be an advocate for the EMC brand.  You are probably thinking now, “What does this mean for me?”

Our mission of advocacy is two fold. Providing you, the readers of our blogs and tweets, knowledge and a transparent view of the world of EMC. But more importantly it is also to listen and provide EMC with valuable feedback that ultimately means better service and solutions for you the customers.

So if you visit an EMC Elect blog, comment and share your views and feedback. Or, if you see an EMC Elect member at an industry event, feel free to engage, converse, and share knowledge, it’s what we as members are committed (and eager) to do!

Tech Prediction for 2014: A Battle Cry for Protected Storage

Stephen Manley

Stephen Manley

CTO, Data Protection and Availability Division
Over the past 15 years at both EMC and NetApp, I have traveled the world, helping solve backup and recovery challenges - one customer at a time (clearly, I need to optimize my travel arrangements!). My professional mission is to transform data protection so that it accelerates customers’ businesses. I have a passion for helping engineers pursue technical career path(without becoming managers), telling stories about life on the road and NDMP (yes, that’s NDMP).

185877550-1

Organizations buy storage infrastructure for one reason: meeting application service level objectives (SLOs). Applications look to storage for availability/accessibility, performance, and protection. While these functions may seem simple, a look at all of the different storage system and software offerings in the marketplace shows that it’s one of the most complex challenges for any data center.

Most storage service level discussions begin with availability and performance. To meet those SLOs, teams deploy multiple storage personalities and configurations – high-performance block storage or scale-out object storage or raw, low-cost IOPs storage, etc. Then they consider protection.

To read the rest of this blog and more tech predictions for 2014, please see our sister site Reflections.

Twelfth Day of Blogmas: Software-Defined Storage, SLOs and PSA

Stephen Manley

Stephen Manley

CTO, Data Protection and Availability Division
Over the past 15 years at both EMC and NetApp, I have traveled the world, helping solve backup and recovery challenges - one customer at a time (clearly, I need to optimize my travel arrangements!). My professional mission is to transform data protection so that it accelerates customers’ businesses. I have a passion for helping engineers pursue technical career path(without becoming managers), telling stories about life on the road and NDMP (yes, that’s NDMP).

Window to future

“Software-defined [fill in the blank]” has already made a huge industry impact. Admittedly, there’s a lot of buzz around the term, but it’s no small feat to triumph over “big data” so quickly. And as with many over-hyped terms, there is some real substantive change behind it. So, overlooking the obvious cynical jokes (e.g., thank goodness we don’t need that pesky hardware to store data anymore!) what will software-defined storage mean to data protection and the teams that provide it?

Software-Defined Storage—It’s about SLOs

Software-defined storage (SDS) is about delivering service levels to your applications with your storage assets (compute and media).

Too often, people assume  SDS means that it’s finally time to build a storage system out of software to run on commodity hardware. They’re about 15 years too late; it’s already happened. What makes a Data Domain different from a VMAX? The software. So, if so much of the value in storage has already moved to software, why the noise about software-defined storage? One word… simplicity.

Managing storage environments is excruciating. Each type of array has a unique set of functionality—a storage personality—that must be managed differently and on dedicated islands of hardware.

Customers like the distinct functionality (e.g., Data Domain’s space optimization and data durability, VMAX’s predictable performance and availability, Isilon’s scale) but hate the operational complexity. In some cases, operational simplicity wins and customers select a one-size-fits-all “good enough” storage solution. In other cases, they grind through the complexity. In either case, they have to settle.

Software-defined storage promises to simplify storage management by delivering service level objectives across the various storage systems. Instead of having to be an expert on the intricacies of the VMAX, VNX, and Isilon—imagine a software layer that selects and configures the appropriate storage personality for your workload.

That’s why software-defined storage is so exciting—you can have your cake (all the unique storage functionality) and eat it too (none of the agonizing management complexity). While most customers immediately focus on service levels objectives like response time, throughput, and availability, that’s not where you’ll find the maximum value in software-defined storage. It’s in protection. And it can help you achieve a whole new level of IT productivity.

Software-Defined Storage—It’s about Protection SLOs

Protection has created the greatest amount of complexity in storage environments. While each storage array has a different personality, each also has a well-established set of performance and availability capabilities. In other words, most people know the difference between a VMAX and an Isilon. However, each array offers multiple native protection methods (e.g., SRDF, TimeFinder clones, RecoverPoint) in addition to traditional (e.g. backup client) and next-generation (hypervisor or application-level) backup techniques. The complexity multiplier is staggering. If storage management is excruciating, protection management is soul crushing; it’s impossible to make the right choice.

How can software-defined storage address the protection management challenges?

  • First, customers need to extend their SLO expectations to include Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Recovery Time Objective (RTO), retention, and recovery resiliency (e.g., geography, number of copies, etc.).
  • Second, they need to select a protection storage personality that integrates with the data movement and control mechanisms from their key data sources (e.g., primary storage).
  • Third, they need to connect the protection movement to the application.
  • Finally, they need to demand data management software that can span all the different protection mechanisms. If this sounds familiar… it should. The protection storage architecture recognizes that in the “software-defined” world, storage will take a much more prominent role in protection than it has.

The ultimate goal for software-defined storage is to enable a customer to provision protected storage to meet their SLOs.

The Future Won’t Look Like the Past

While the software-defined storage battles currently are more sound and fury than substance (e.g., a “one-size-fits-all” storage OS is “software defined” in the same way that Michael Bay’s films are “diverse”). Ignore the petty debates and focus on the substance—the storage market has become a breakneck race to see who can deliver SLO-based storage provisioning and protection.

Software-defined storage will have profound implications on the roles of the backup and storage administrators and how companies build (and purchase) protection solutions, and it lays the groundwork for the next massive shift in our industry—from data protection to data management. If you thought my last series was long… wait until you see this one.

 

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Tenth Day of Blogmas: Help! I’m Stuck in the Muck That’s Become My Job, Part I

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

117236876

I have no idea how sage writers churn out endless gems in books that help us better navigate our careers but they do. I’m not a voracious reader but I have stumbled on a few books that seem to parallel my thought process. My short list includes:

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t (Collins)
  • The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Sutton)
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Gladwell)
  • Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions (Kotter)

Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve had a playbook career, but my personal way of muddling through has worked out pretty well over the years and along the way, I have learned a few things that have helped me tremendously—my own gems, I guess you could say. Some I’ve gleaned from reading, but most are from my personal work experience, family and peers, as noted.

Recently, I’ve found myself on a few speaker tracks talking about some of these gems, so I figured it might be time to write them down and share them. Whether you’re navigating a career in business, medicine or IT, these gems apply. The list is different if you’re a manager or a non-manager, but reading both will benefit you short- and long-term—perhaps even broaden your perspective a bit.

Gems for non-managers:

  1. The only person who’s going to manage your career is you. If a manager is taking an interest in you and your career, take advantage of it.
  2. A job is a job and a career is a career. I spent nearly 14 years at the same company, albeit in different roles. When I left that company, I realized what I had was a job, not a career. Yep, I’d stayed 10 years too long!
  3. Keep an eye on your résumé. Every inch of your résumé counts. If you haven’t enhanced it recently, then it’s time for change. After all, a job is a job and a career is a career (see #2).
  4. Have a 3-5 year plan but be realistic that it will likely change. It’s good to dream and it’s fun to look back with friends and say “Did you ever imagine we would be here three years ago?”
  5. Being invaluable at a task will keep you employed but will likely stunt your career. What’s never said is managers want people who are good and stable in their roles. So, if you’re good, they’ll likely prefer you to carry on doing what you do best without any disruptions. If this is the case, you and they will inadvertently stunt your career.
  6. Being a selfless utility player will make your career rich and rewarding (Graham). Continuing the thread from #5, I was once challenged by a boss to learn a unique skill—something that would make me “invaluable.” He told me to document it, try it again, teach someone it and make myself redundant. THAT’s how you make yourself invaluable to a business. Incidentally, I was going about this in the polar opposite way, so this piece of advice was a massive help to me—and my career.
  7. If you figure something out, document it, try it again, teach someone, make yourself redundant (see #6) and raise your hand  for the next tough assignment. Remember every inch of your résumé counts.  Keep learning (see #11 below).
  8. Learn to like the crappy jobs (Dad). Try and find a successful executive who didn’t fight on the way up by taking the harder road!
  9. Figure out who you are and how you think. Are you a Tank or Plumber? Are you a Linear or Abstract Thinker?
  10. Figure out what you’re good at and, more importantly, what you aren’t good at. Most careers stall or slide when you don’t know these two things or are insecure in your ability and get ahead of your skis. If you do this, guess which part of your so-called skills will be critical in your next job? Be forewarned!
  11. Keep learning. Rinse and repeat is good for your hair but not your career. There is nothing worse than doing the same thing year after year.
  12. Try not to live where you work (Mick). A small commute can help you detox. Don’t take baggage home; it will stunt your career and hurt your home life.
  13. If you find yourself underwater with to-do’s, make a list (Edmundo). On Friday, write down every task you know you have to do (make a separate list for business and personal). From this list, identify your top 10 tasks for the upcoming week.  For an added cool factor, send a copy of your list to your boss. You’ll have a better weekend; you’ll figure out what really is important (see also Heidi’s post “Have You Taken the ‘Repeat Test’?”) and you’ll stay on course.
  14. Take all the advice you can but act on only what you see is correct (Uncle Richard). Translation: Two ears and one mouth.
  15. If you start a new project or idea, don’t let it creep too far (Andre). Most projects fail from never-ending creep. Lock your plan down and execute, and then adjust.
  16. Raise your hand. If your job doesn’t challenge you, and even scare you, at times, you’re not stretching far enough. Make sure people know you have extra capacity.

IT friends, are you stuck in the muck that’s become your jobs? What resonates from this list? Tweet me at @guychurchward or comment here.

IT and business leaders, my gems for you in my next post!

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Sixth Day of Blogmas: Is Big Data Too Big to Back Up?

Stephen Manley

Stephen Manley

CTO, Data Protection and Availability Division
Over the past 15 years at both EMC and NetApp, I have traveled the world, helping solve backup and recovery challenges - one customer at a time (clearly, I need to optimize my travel arrangements!). My professional mission is to transform data protection so that it accelerates customers’ businesses. I have a passion for helping engineers pursue technical career path(without becoming managers), telling stories about life on the road and NDMP (yes, that’s NDMP).

Is the new Boeing Dreamliner too big for safety inspections? Was the Titanic too big to need lifeboats? Are some banks too big to follow basic asset safety rules? Was Gmail too big to lose data?

So, is big data too big to back up? Definitely not.  But that doesn’t mean you can back up Big Data with traditional backup techniques. Big Data’s volume, variety, and velocity (the 3 V’s) force backup teams to transform their approach.

  • Volume – As data capacity increases, traditional backup and recovery windows become unmanageable. This is not a new challenge, but big data accelerates the pain. Full backup and recovery become virtually irrelevant when you approach windows of multiple days. Incremental backups will scale only if you leverage intelligence in the data source; on its own, a backup agent cannot find the new data fast enough. Granular recoveries become challenging either due to the size of the objects to recover, or due to the process of sifting through trillions of objects to locate the object. The answer to the volume challenge is versioned replication. Intelligent data sources drive rapid backups to deduplicated disk. The deduplicated disk synthesizes the incremental changes into full, space-efficient, native format backup copies. If a primary system fails, the customer can instantly run that application directly off the backup copy – no need to wait for a full restore. If the customer needs to recover a large object, he can directly access the backup copy. If the backup team is searching for a specific object in the sea of storage, they can rapidly search through the data to find the information. Versioned replication is the only way to scale to meet Big Data’s volume.
  • Variety – As the types of data increase, so do the applications that create and utilize that data. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult for the backup team to deliver a one-size-fits-all centralized solution for all those applications. Backup tools can’t build application-intelligent agents fast enough to cover all the customers’ use cases. Furthermore, the application owners expect more visibility and control over their backups, so they don’t want to be relegated to a bystander role in the protection of their data. The only way to cope with these changes is for the backup team to offer a variety of services to the application teams, to help them meet protection SLAs. In some cases, the backup team will run the backups. In others they will provide the backup storage, cataloging, and reporting. In still others, they may offer only the cataloging and reporting. In other words, they need to transform their backup environment and behave like service providers to their big data customers.
  • Velocity – Big data users want high-performance access large amounts of data, whenever they need it. Therefore, there is no backup window. Backup must minimize its resource impact on the production environment. This is the heart of versioned replication – minimal load on the data source and network, with no moving parts. Second, recoveries must happen quickly. Again, nothing is faster than leveraging protected data directly off the backup storage. Deduplicated disk may not have the I/O performance of primary disk, but can still provide reduced performance access to your data. Ultimately, there’s nothing faster than instantly accessing your data, instead of waiting hours for recoveries to complete.

In other words, Big Data protection is all about versioned replication to deduplicated disk, with the backup team shifting into a service provider role. Not surprisingly, our most successful customers are following that same transformation for their traditional data!

Whether your backup transformation is being driven by building a private cloud, big data, absorbing multiple acquisitions, or just doing more with less the transformation is the same.

Big data is not too big to back up, if you’re willing to change.