Goodbye Tape, Hello Data Protection as a Service

Lisa Matzdorff

Lisa Matzdorff

Voice of Customer, Data Protection and Availability Division
I have a passion for listening, more specifically, listening to customers share their IT stories, their experiences, their successes! Over the past 7 years in the role of customer reference manager and customer advocacy manager, I’ve had the pleasure of listen to amazing stories and meeting some very interesting people. The one thing that makes my job even better…I get to share those stories. When I’m not working, I’m volunteering with foster children, running 5K fun runs, playing fashion consultant “What Not To Wear” style, traveling, and watching reality t.v

Over the weekend I was talking with some friends about their experience attempting to buy a home in Silicon Valley. From what I gathered, the housing market is heating up and it appears to be a sellers market yet again. This made me think about an EMC customer, Healthcare Realty Trust.
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EMH Healthcare Implements Customer-Focused IT Strategy

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.

 

179069079As I was writing last week’s post, I got an email from our social team asking me to take a look at a customer profile one of our internal teams recently put together.

The timing, as it turns out, couldn’t have been more perfect, and the story more in line with the “center of gravity” series I kicked off earlier this month. It’s a great example of the business benefits of a customer-focused IT strategy.

The profile recaps the journey EMH Healthcare went through to upgrade its legacy EMC storage environment. And while the product side of the story is compelling (and, yes, a nod to EMC products and solutions), it’s the  business/customer thread, you’ll want to note. It’s what captured my attention and surely EMH management’s.

By focusing on its customers (i.e., the ends) and not just the products/services it provides/delivers (i.e., the means), EMH IT is delivering measurable business value to the broader organization.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying that products aren’t important; they definitely are. But what I am saying is that IT organizations need to think first about the bigger business picture. They need  to understand what their customers (internal and external) need before they set IT priorities and invest in new products or technologies. (Recall the accidental architecture?)

EMH IT’s goal is to:

  • Improve operational efficiency (traditional IT metric) and responsiveness to patient needs (business-focused metric).

And it’s doing this by:

  • Improving application availability, responsiveness and performance – This expedites patient care, reduces the length of hospital stays and ensures accuracy of information processed at every level in the organization.
  • Simplifying administrative time – This allows the IT team to invest more time in business-optimizing activities (e.g., making sure their IT infrastructure is performing optimally for clinicians, administrators and patients).

I’d say EMH IT has found its business center of gravity, wouldn’t you?

Additional Resources

Customer Profile: EMH Healthcare: Private cloud improves healthcare applications, availability and performance.

Related blog posts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).

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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

Eleventh Day of Blogmas: Backup Game Day Is Back…The Transformation Continues

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.

How do you turn backup and recovery into an offensive strategy that delivers game-changing business results?

More than 4,000 of you tuned in last fall to hear the first part of the story, and an even larger crowd stopped by on March 11 to hear the second chapter.

Backup Game II is all about giving application owners, end user and other stockholders, the visibility and control of the backup process they need to accelerate business.

You’ll learn:

  • Why federated management services are critical to backup transformation
  • How data protection management can help you improve service levels, lower costs, and avoid problems
  • How to manage backup at scale–simply and efficiently
  • How to deliver backup in an IT as a service model
  • How the completely redesigned EMC Data Protection Advisor 6 will help you go from vision to execution.

Watch the recording on-demand. It will be 30-minutes well spent.

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013