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BW Businessworld

Summoning The Perfect Data Point

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EMC Corporation, the $24-billion corporation, has been the pioneer in pushing boundaries in storage, virtualisation, information security and data analytics. Today's data centre is a hybrid because large enterprises are moving between different forms of cloud architecture and are also holding primary data in house. However the integration of these several pieces is the key issue and data needs to be made available to the organisation's decision makers any time and any place. Fidelma Russo, Senior VP and GM of the VMAX business unit was in India to talk about the challenges for large enterprises in the era of cloud. She says data analytics was the core of all data centres today and automation of storage management to suit business needs was the most strategic IT decision. Here are the excerpts of the interview.   
How are fortune 500 companies looking at storage today - are they looking at revamping their legacy storage platforms that were not scalable?
Fortune 500 companies are faced with the challenge of implementing new storage technologies such as flash, cloud and virtualisation, while simultaneously streamlining operations and processes to reduce costs. How to automate and modernise at the same time? VMAX3 was designed to address this challenge – our revolutionary service level management automates storage deployments, changing storage management from a focus on adjusting technical parameters to managing business outcomes. HYPERMAX allows for data services that would traditionally run outside the array, to run in virtual containers on VMAX3, dramatically rescuing operating costs. And it brings significant new capabilities such as ProtectPoint and large quantities of Flash that radically change backup and storage performance.
What are the big trends in database technologies?
Databases are being transforming both in scale and performance. Key trends to achieve these are Big Data technologies like Hadoop, "NoSQL" databases, and in-memory databases such as SAP HANA. As business deploy core applications with these technologies they also are looking for ways to provide mission critical availability, and protection for them. VMAX3 provides those capabilities for new data base technology with industry leading availability and SRDF, the best disaster recover solution on the market. VMAX3 is certified for the SAP HANA Tailored Data Center Integration (TDI) solution, supporting up to 104 HANA nodes in a single VMAX. This allows for a flexible deployment that offers customers the ability to leverage existing infrastructure including VMAX storage. 
Between MySQL and NoSQL what are businesses looking at to drive value?
Our customers use both for different applications and requirements.
What type of cloud – public, private or hybrid – is preferred among your clients?
Our clients are deploying multiple types of clouds and many are deploying all three types of cloud depending on the workload and business requirements. They choose to place applications in public, hybrid or private based on the service levels required, security parameters and costs targets. VMAX3 was designed for hybrid cloud deployments – to help our customers combine the trust of the data center and the flexibility of the cloud. But we have many service provider customers deploying VMAX in their public clouds and still continue to excel in private cloud storage.
How will security play a role if core functions move to the cloud?
Security plays the same role in the cloud as it does on premise. Critical business data needs to be secured regardless of where it stored.  Issues such as encryption at rest, auditability, access control are all as critical if not more so in the cloud as they are in the data center. VMAX3 storage is designed with built in security to address these challenges in both the data center and the cloud. Leveraging multiple points of security integration we provide industry leading authentication, access control and audit as well as the most secure data at rest encryption.
What is the future of tomorrow’s datacenter? How intelligent will it be?
Modernisation of datacenters has been on a fast track the last several years as we’ve seen cloud go from buzzword to reality, seen “as a service” become a requirement, and seen some of the principles of mobile applications  begin to be expected in traditional datacenter storage offerings and their layered software. All of these modernisations have added intelligence to the datacenter and I expect this trend to continue.  We live in an online, on-demand, interconnected world. Data continues to exponentially explode, and new applications emerge every minute to offer up new ways to use, view, and morph data. Added intelligence is a necessity to enable the datacenter to organise itself, protect itself, and serve up needed data and information.
Will Big Data play a crucial role in managing data centers?
With VMAX management software, we have always used “big data” type analytics to provide a window into system operations and performance. And, with each iteration of our offerings, we’ve matured and grown our analytics capabilities. As datacenters continue to grow to manage more data and more diverse applications across multiple frames and locations, the metadata about the data, the applications, and their characteristics will grow. Big data analytics will be of necessity the defacto modus operandi throughout the software stack.
What is a typical storage problem today; do organisations want data available on their finger tips or is data still junked in to repositories?
The typical storage problem today is two-fold: how do I optimize my storage investments so that the right data is in the right place at the right time and how do I manage that at scale?  We all know that data has a lifecycle.  When it is born it is more likely to be accessed frequently, and as it ages that frequency typically decreases.  We also know that certain applications have higher overall performance needs than others. Imagine storage and application administrators trying to manually ensure that the right drive media is allocated properly at all stages so that expectations are met.  When you’re dealing with a small shop, this might be manageable.  But when you’re dealing with this at scale, you need your storage to provide you a means to automate placement, management, and monitoring.  That’s one of the reasons we are so proud of our VMAX3 Service Level Objective offering; we’re solving this very real, very tangible problem for businesses, making it easier for them to ensure their datacenters operate efficiently while keeping costs down as well as enabling the admins to be successful and probably get more sleep at night.
How is EMC advising clients in network storage and is software changing business models?
In concert with the modernisation and convergence of datacenter automation, intelligence and analytics comes abstraction. Describing components, characteristics, and processes in higher level terms that are simple for people to understand and manage. At their core, literally their processor level, all computers speak 1s and 0s. Abstraction is as natural as breathing, as we in the industry have always been creating and evolving languages, CLIs, and APIs to tell computers what to do.  The software defined data center (SDDC) is the current evolution in the world of abstraction, a business model that enables shops to orchestrate various aspects of their datacenters. We’re providing SDDC capabilities through REST APIs and integrations with EMC ViPR, as well as working on integrations with next gen virtualisation techniques.

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