Data Protection – From Good to Great

Gytis Barzdukas

Gytis Barzdukas

With over 20 years' experience in marketing, product planning and product management, you'd think I might have grown tired of talking about backup, storage and IT by now – but the market and the technology keeps evolving and it remains thrilling to be at the cutting edge of that. Looking after the product portfolio and roadmap for EMC's data protection cloud means that I'm working at the pointy end of the third platform revolution – which keeps me busy when I'm not rooting for my local soccer team or making the most of life in Seattle with my family.

One of the questions that I often ask when meeting with IT directors considering deploying a cloud backup solution for their business is “What does great data protection look like?” And the answers I get back are always different. Continue reading

Is Life in the Fast Lane All That It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

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If House Bill 459 passes the Georgia Senate this spring, starting in July, “slow-poke drivers” on GA highways will be required to get out of the way of faster drivers, else risk being pulled over and ticketed. While bill proponents say the law is all about safety, I wonder.

I just drove an 8-hour stretch on I75 last week from Atlanta to Sarasota, FL, and back, and not once did I encounter a “slow-poke driver” let alone a slow-poke driver who put my life or those of others at risk. Super speeders? Yes. Slow-poke drivers? No.

So, perhaps the bill is just another symptom of a fast world getting even faster. The race to get there (wherever “there” is) faster… and first.

Even in the world of IT, the race to do things faster and easier seems to restart daily, and this applies to those of us on the IT side buying and implementing technology, those on the vendor side developing the technology, as well as those of us straddling both worlds.

But as we all know, faster doesn’t necessarily mean easier—nor does it necessarily mean better or safer… or that you will even win in the end.

In fact, the rush to deploy new technologies can have, and often does have, negative consequences. Similarly, the rush to innovate, particularly for innovation’s sake, can have costly business effects. On the flip side, failing to deploy new technologies or adopt new ways of doing things can have paralyzing business effects.

Without a doubt, keeping pace with technology advances is a delicate dance.

Take cloud. For IT organizations, knowing what do, when to do it and with whom to do it is challenging, to say the least. And while the Dilbert cartoon that’s been circulating on LinkedIn over the past couple of weeks has made many of us chuckle in a “where in this together” kind of way, it also captures a very real picture of the uncertainties life in the cloud can present.

Yes, the pace at which new technologies are coming at us is both exhilarating and a wee-bit scary at times. Market dynamics have changed, and as they have so too have the rules of doing business.

I’ve talked about the shift downstream that organizations that want to compete successfully in today’s digital world are having to make. Larry Downes and Paul Nunes are talking about the new rules of business in their new book Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation. (They’ve proposed a new market adoption model, to replace Roger’s Bell Curve model, that has a whole lot of folks on-line and, my guess is, a whole bunch debating and discussing at business schools talking nation-wide. ) And Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee are talking about life in The Second Machine Age in their book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

Agree with Dawar or not. Agree with Downes and Nunes or not. Agree with Brynjolfsson and McAfee or not. Agree with me or not. Rapid change is coming.

The question that remains is, will life in the fast lane be all that’s it cracked up to be?

Be sure to check back next week when Guy Churchward shares his thoughts on the coming of The Second Machine Age.

 

 

 

 

Ninth Day of Blogmas: Because the CIO Said So

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

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Times they are a changing, and so are CIOs.

But for the past several years, the focus of most IT organizations across the globe has really been on one thing and one thing only: reducing IT costs. Blame it on the economy, the IT adoption curve or just (bad) habit, but we, as an industry and as consumers of IT, have prioritized short-term cost-savings often at the expense of longer-term business value, and we’ve prioritized instant gratification over strategy and innovation.

And this isn’t good.

However, a recent IDG survey highlights a very different trend taking shape globally ―one that we’ve been talking about here on The Backup Window since last year’s EMC World, or before.

Of the more than 1,500 CIOs and other IT leaders in the U.S. that IDG surveyed for the study, 49% ranked improving IT productivity as their number-one  goal for 2013, followed by better, faster, decision-making; improving service levels; protecting corporate data and increasing agility.

Do I hear cloud?

As for lowering costs – the historical front-runner – it ranked eighth in the survey. Yes, it’s still on the list, and so it should be, but it’s no longer the driving factor, or force, behind many of the decisons CIOs are making and the things IT organizations are doing.

This is huge. Why?

Well, as we’ve discussed on The Backup Window as well as on Backup Game Day I and II, companies with IT organizations that see themselves as change agents (or “brokers of value,” as IDG puts it) have a definite business advantage over companies with IT organizations that see themselves only as task-doers. They think and manage IT resources from a business viewpoint; they think smarter, not just faster.

For these CIOs and organizations, “time to” is a measure of IT efficiency (or productivity). It’s the time it takes to spin up a new business application, analyze a complex data set or expand business operations or customer base, and this has real business value. Stephen Manley explains why in this short video – part II of his three-part Accelerating Transformation series.

Check it out and then let us know what you think. How’s your CIO doing?

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Seventh Day of Blogmas: Cloud Driving the Economy

Chandra Jacobs
I love creative and challenging projects in the emerging technology product space. I have a background in tech, innovation, and product development, especially as applied to web and mobile apps in the entrepreneurship arena, but have recently moved into marketing. In my role as a product marketer, I have gravitated toward digital marketing as well as analytics/data mining. It fits well with my techie geek bent as well as my cloud angle on The Backup Window. (Be sure to catch my posts on Innovation Station too!) Outside of work at EMC, I enjoy exploring Boston’s culinary and jazz scene (often in combination), and travel as much as I can (35 countries and counting).

From tech startups (like mine) to Fortune 200 tech companies (like mine) alike, cloud has been a global engine of growth as well as as an enabler of rapid innovation. And even through the recent recession, cloud adoption has continued to skyrocket leading to an entire economy being built around it (PaaS, SaaS, ITaaS, BaaS, XaaS…).

Did you know that cloud will generate 14 million jobs worldwide by 2013? Or that IT innovation through cloud computing  leads to $1.2 billion per year in new revenue? These were some of the recent findings that came out of an International Data Corporation study commissioned by Microsoft. And, in the next decade it is predicted that cloud will be a $240 billion industry.

This is more than many countries’ GDP!

So, are you on the fast track with cloud?

It can be argued that much of the uptick in cloud adoption has been, in part, due to the recent economic downturn. With IT budgets down or flat, it has just been more practical to turn those capital expenditures into operational expenditures through cloud. The flexibility that cloud provides is also a key benefit in times of economic uncertainty. Not sure your company can predict accurately its IT needs in the next year? Cloud is a great answer since you can downsize or upsize as needed according to your business demand. In support of this, last year Bloomberg released a survey of business decision-makers around cloud technology listing the top four main  benefits of cloud-based services as: efficiency, cost savings, scalability, and variety of features. you can have access to these and more through an optimized cloud strategy implementation.

What’s more, cloud is a great leveler for innovation. While the internet can be thought of as the first wave of leveling, cloud technology is definitely the second. It effectively allows startups and small businesses with limited resources to have access to a global playground of as-a-service technologies at a reasonable cost, without having to develop it in-house. In many cases, cloud enables startups to compete with well established companies by providing agility to match rapid product development without legacy IT infrastructure weighing them down. For my own tech startup, I’m actually dynamically provisioning the cloud services I need when I need them, and only paying for what I use. This helps me keep costs down and efficiency up, while giving me room to scale as I grow. Without cloud this would not be possible.

A lot of times it’s just overcoming a mindset (“we’ve always done it this way in the past and it’s always worked”), and other times it’s fear of the unknown or simply a lack of understanding that cloud has come a long away to address concerns around compliance, regulatory, security, and control issues. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of education to overcome objections of the past on the journey to the cloud.You may also be wondering which industries are the most mature in terms of cloud computing adoption. The usual suspects of banking, insurance, education, media,  and government (mostly private cloud) top the list. Lagging behind are manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and energy/utilities. Doing this gap analysis reveals that there is an opportunity space emerging in these underdeveloped industries for which cloud can play a future role, given the right positioning.

……….Wordle Cloud of this Cloud Article……….

These days, cloud not only allows smaller companies to compete in a global marketplace (and larger companies to retain their competitive advantage if they are effectively employing cloud), but it also can be a nimble canoe of differentiation in a sea of Big Data. Big Data analytics allow us to glean insights and generate tailored reports about our customers like never before, getting real-time metrics about demand, buying habits, engagement effectiveness …you name it.  Companies that can respond to rapidly changing market conditions with agility, armed with the insights combed through effective reporting mechanisms, will succeed in tomorrow’s marketplace. And what’s the underlying gateway to this success?

Think Cloud.

Third Day of Blogmas: The Right Architecture Is Priceless

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).

Lego Architecture sets are among the greatest inventions of the last decade. My seven-year-old son Connor loves to show off his Lego creations, but my wife doesn’t really appreciate the aesthetic value of a Lego Death Star. Thankfully, Lego solved the problem by creating beautiful reproductions of buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe….

As Connor and I constructed the 2000+ piece Robie House, he asked, “If nobody famous lived here, why is this place famous?” I answered, “The architecture. The right architecture is priceless.”

Game-changing Protection Storage Architecture

Building Intentional – Not Accidental – Architectures
Evolving data protection technology and expanding requirements have completely transformed the backup industry. Unfortunately, with such rapid change, many organizations have fallen into the chaos of an accidental architecture. The backup team isn’t solving critical protection performance challenges from the application, virtualization and storage teams, so those teams deploy silos of point products as they deem appropriate. The accidental architecture results.It’s accidental because nobody would intentionally plan for half-dozen unconnected protection tools, no central oversight and no cost controls (Okay, based on their acquisition history, maybe Dell would.).

Customers need to define a protection storage architecture to combat the accidental architecture. This architecture should be composed of loosely coupled modules to minimize vendor lock-in while providing the value of integrated data protection. That way, the backup team can solve immediate challenges while delivering a platform that can evolve with business and technical requirements.

What are the key challenges that the protection architecture needs to address?

  1. Over the next three years, the protection team will be expected to deliver multiple services: disaster recovery, backup and archive.
  2. The protection team must tie together a disparate set of technology components and owners. Virtually every part of IT plays a role in data protection. The application team is the focus because they’re delivering the technology value to the business.  IT infrastructure –virtualization, storage, servers and network – must keep the business applications running. With such a diverse set of people and technology required to deliver a protection solution, it’s no surprise that a data protection administrator survives about as long as a main character in Game of Thrones.

What Is a Protection Storage Architecture?
The protection team must bring together the right people, processes and architecture to transform the technical and organizational complexity into a successful solution. In the past, we’ve talked about the evolution of the protection team and its approach. Now, it’s time to talk to talk technology.Our most successful customers have adopted a protection storage architecture, which consists of three core, loosely coupled modules:

  • Protection Storage: This is the anchor of the architecture. First, protection storage has a unique design center in the storage world: cost-optimized storage with high data durability that can deliver disaster recovery, backup and archive. Second, to avoid creating silos of protection storage, the platform must support multiple protocols (e.g., VTL, NAS, OST and deduplication-aware protocols like Data Domain Boost) and integrate with multiple data sources (applications, hypervisors, storage and backup applications). The right protection storage sets the team down a path of a flexible, reliable, scalable infrastructure for protection. The wrong choice? You’ve seen what happens in the Friday the 13th movies when you take a wrong turn…
  • Data Source Integration: Internal customers want two things from their protection team. First, performance – backup and recovery needs to be fast. Second, they want visibility into the protection of their data. The protection storage architecture leverages both the optimized data flows and user interfaces of the data sources: hypervisor, application and storage. The data sources deliver optimized protection performance because they can track the data as it changes (e.g., VMware Changed Block Tracking, array snapshots)versus trying to figure out what changed after the fact (e.g., traditional backup agent searching through all the data for the changes). The user interface (e.g., vSphere, Oracle RMAN, Unisphere) displays protection status in that team’s preferred, native interface. Data source integration eliminates the two causes of the accidental architecture – performance and visibility. Of course, this integration is available only if you have chosen protection storage that can support these flows.
  • Data Management Services: The protection team delivers value with data management services. Thus far, the architecture eliminates the causes of the accidental architecture, but the protection team needs to add value to convince their customers to adopt their services. What services can they offer? Senior management wants to ensure the protection meets SLAs and compliance regulations… as cost effectively as possible. They need analytics and reports for compliance, policy and infrastructure utilization. Customers want to be able to retrieve any version of any information, easily and quickly. The protection team needs to have a catalog of the company’s information – from local snapshots to backup copies to offsite/cloud copies to their deep archives. By taking on the responsibilities that everybody in the organization deems necessary, but that nobody wants to do, the protection team gains the credibility to consolidate data protection.

Only by bringing together all three modules of the protection storage architecture can the central protection team deliver the services, performance, and visibility that the business and its customers need.

From Blueprint to Reality?
The protection storage architecture is a blueprint to guide the transformation of data protection from the chaos of the accidental architecture to a clean, centralized protection service. Like all blueprints, however, there are two things to remember.

First, like my son’s 2000+ piece Lego set, you’re not going to build the solution in one day; it takes time and patience. Set a journey with key milestones and enjoy the evolution. Second, like a Lego set, you need more detailed descriptions of what to build.

Over the coming series and at EMC World next week, I’ll dive more deeply into each of the architectural components. Your organization will appreciate your streamlined, elegant protection architecture… because, as Mies van der Rohe said of his designs, “Less is more.”

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013.

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013.