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How EMC is Redefining ITaaS: News and Views from EMC World 2015

Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, opened up this year’s EMC World with, “We are living in interesting times…,” and he is absolutely right! As a returning participant at the EMC World conference, there were so many things that felt the same as last year. The event was held once again at the Venetian Hotel in […]

Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, opened up this year’s EMC World with, “We are living in interesting times…,” and he is absolutely right!

As a returning participant at the EMC World conference, there were so many things that felt the same as last year. The event was held once again at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. We were welcomed with awesome blue LED light shows and a full entourage of entertainment before every keynote general session.

The EMC World Solutions Expo held in the Village had leading industry partners demoing their latest and greatest technologies, and came with the usual prize drawings for free iPhone watches, drones, cash grab phone booths and the opportunity to get your picture inside of exotic cars. (This year they had the “Back to the Future” DeLorean time machine car – super cool!)

Aloe Blacc performance at EMC World 2015 Aloe Blacc performance at EMC World 2015

Evenings were loaded with private concerts from popular music performers like Aloe Blacc, Fall Out Boy and One Republic. Although fun, this is not what made EMC World 2015 interesting this year – let me explain.

The IT industry is in the midst of a transformation and we are experiencing the biggest shift for every business across the world since the industrial revolution. Software applications are being developed and deployed at amazing speeds, increasing the number of data sources, data types and data volume that IT has to manage. New digital applications have thousands more users with more data and include everything from social interaction to mobility to real-time analytics.

CEO’s are challenged to integrate new technology into their business processes and products – and their success is truly dependent on their ability to keep up with the times. Demanding agile software requirements are being pushed down to the internal IT support teams and it’s placing a tremendous amount of pressure for them to step up or be left behind.

All of this change can be confusing and overwhelming, but the message we received this year from EMC is that they have continued to innovate their platforms – from the software to infrastructure and everything in between – to address the challenges businesses face in regard to information technology as a service (ITaaS).

What kind of innovations are we talking about?  Here’s a quick rundown of the biggest announcements and impacts of EMC World 2015.

Lounge at EMC World 2015 Lounge at EMC World 2015

EMC Federation

The companies who comprise the EMC Federation include EMC II, VMware, Pivotal, RSA and VCE. Customers who leverage the full team of the EMC Federation will experience improved business agility and get the advantages of smaller technology-focused companies working together as a group. Last year alone EMC invested over $5B in acquisitions and research and development on VMware NSX, AirWatch, Pivotal, ScaleIO, XtremIO, DSSD and others.

General session at EMC World 2015 General session at EMC World 2015

EMC Hybrid Cloud

Leveraging the Federation of companies, EMC brings to the market the Federated Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. EMC touts that they can now build and implement an enterprise hybrid cloud in 28 days!


You’ve heard of VBLOCKs from EMC, which are a pre-validated and deployable block of components to support Tier 1 applications. Now EMC has the VxRack, which is a new family of hyper-converged systems specifically designed for distributing Tier 2 applications. VxRack allows you to scale out a hyper-converged architecture without having the typical hyper-converged limitations.

The VxRack has a flexible choice of options. On the hypervisor you can choose between VMware’s vSphere, Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) or bare metal. The VxRack solution leverages EMC’s software defined storage solution from ScaleIO, which ensures performance as you scale out. Also, the Cisco top of rack Nexus switching comes with strong integration into VMwares’s vRealize orchestration and management suite.

XtremIO (The Beast) Version 4.0

EMC was admittedly late to the Flash market, but since jumping in head first with the XtremIO product, they have rebounded quite well and extremely quickly! You may be quite surprised by what EMC has done to improve the product with the version 4.0 release that they have nicknamed “The Beast.”

Version 4.0 brings improved performance, workload consolidation and automation, along with new functionality. XtremIO 4.0 has double the density and is now scalable to a petabyte! This allows for configurations with more than 33% improved performance. It’s also worth noting that XtremIO 4.0 is a free software update for current XtremIO customers.

VMAX 3 Version Platform

To no surprise, EMC has also updated their flagship product, the VMAX. The new VMAX 3 version platform comes with a slew of architecture and performance upgrades this year. As open concepts are becoming more widely adopted by the industry, EMC has started to de-couple software data services from the underlying infrastructure platform. This allows clients to simplify management at scale, improving their ability to meet service level objectives. Provisioning times are now reduced up to 95%, occurring as quickly as 30 seconds. Storage tiering functionality and reach is also improved by extending tiering functions into other storage platforms and into the cloud with FAST.X and EMC CloudArray.

EMC is going Open Source?!

EMC introduced Project CoprHD (ViPR Controller Open Source Project), designed to help customers, partners, developers and other storage vendors accelerate innovation and drive open and standard application program interfaces (APIs). Project CoprHD will be available on GitHub in June 2015 for community-driven development.

EMC also continues to offer a commercial product for sale, EMC ViPR Controller. The commercial offering enhances CoprHD with service, support, training and more to help organizations quickly adopt Software-Defined Storage.

Final Words

In the new IT world of today, businesses have to evaluate a range of new technology options that just didn’t exist a few years ago. The complexities are greater than ever and it’s very challenging to know which direction to go. New decision points include leveraging open source technologies to build data center automation; integrating Flash technologies to deliver the best performance for high demand software applications; and building hybrid cloud platforms that support agility and varying demand while reducing overall IT costs.  The tools are out there, but the tricky part is trying to understand how to align these tools together to get the most out of them.

The challenge is that many customers automatically believe that open source solutions are a one-for-one replacement for enterprise software tools. This is by far not the case! Take OpenStack for example. OpenStack is being adopted at an extremely fast rate. However, it is very important to know where OpenStack excels so that you can layer enterprise software tools on top of it to build simplicity and additional functionality within the data center.

An OpenStack installation does not make your data center a cloud. OpenStack is a “cloud controller,” which enables the foundation and building blocks in which you can layer enterprise orchestration and self-service tools like EMC CoprHD (ViPR), VMware vRealize, VMware NSX, Cisco ACI, etc. on top of open cloud controller utilities in order to build improved functionality, performance and simplicity.

EMC World offered a forum to announce multiple advances in infrastructure technologies and EMC obviously sees the importance of acknowledging the open source community. As an IT strategic partner of EMC, VMware, Cisco, NetApp, Splunk, Citrix and others, it is GTRI’s role to help clients understand the advantages and disadvantages of open source versus enterprise software, on-premise versus cloud or hybrid cloud, and new infrastructure technologies – and then to help our clients implement the right tools to build agile solutions that meet the needs of their business, all while taking into consideration cost, ease of use and performance.

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