Another Progress Report on EMC IT’s Journey To The Private Cloud

Reposted from Chuck Hollis’s blog entry on 5/7/2010:

By now, you’re probably aware that our IT organization is in the process of pivoting from a traditional IT model to one where they look like an internal service provider — using IT infrastructure that’s built differently, operated differently and consumed differently.

Our IT organization is no different than many others. EMC is a global, diverse and fast-moving technology company. We want our IT to be better, faster and cheaper just like everyone else.

But they’ve got a special challenge …they’re part of an extremely aggressive IT infrastructure company: EMC.

To Begin With

Most of EMC’s growth has been through acquisition, which can initially result in an organizational structure that was, well, compartmentalized.

This, in turn, resulted in an IT organization that was, well, compartmentalized as well.

For the last few years, we’ve worked hard to integrate the company around a “One EMC” strategy — preserve the richness of our diversity, but come together on shared vision, strategy and values. And, in one sense, those same forces are at work within our IT organization.

Several years ago, Sanjay Mirchandani was appointed our new CIO. Although Sanjay has been in the IT industry forever, he wasn’t an IT person in the traditional sense — he’s a business leader who was asked to transform our overall IT strategy.

BTW, if you ever get a chance to meet him in person, he’s a smart, funny and passionate guy. Just like all the other EMC execs 🙂

He quickly realized that IT transformation was more about people and process, and less about cool shiny technology. Besides, at EMC, we have no shortage of said cool shiny technologies and oodles of people who understand how it’s built and how it works.

Not to mention no shortage of opinions, especially when it comes to IT. Lord knows, we’ve got plenty of those …

Sharing The Progress

Early on, we all realized that we should invest some time and effort in documenting and sharing our experiences during this transformation. Hopefully, less in a glitzy marketing way, and more in a gritty, real-world sense.

Several of our IT people now routinely meet with customers in an IT-to-IT setting (no sales or marketing), and swap experiences and best practices. Our customers always tell us it’s a useful investment in their precious time.

We also are starting to assemble our various learnings, experiences and methodologies on a public blog site, although there’s a ton of content and discussion that’s not there yet — soon!

If you’re going to EMC World, you’ll find that a significant number of the sessions and booth demonstrations are being given by EMC IT people. And they’re most definitely *not* marketeers. Sanjay is also giving a wonderful keynote on aspects of organizational transformation and career guidance during these turbulent times.

And, finally, we’re engaging with outside analyst and consulting organizations to measure and document our progress in the journey.

The ESG Report

One of the analyst groups that have taken an interest in all of this are the smart folks from the Enterprise Strategy Group (a shout-out to Brian Garrett and Mark Bowker) who’ve been externally auditing and documenting different aspects of this journey.

Their latest “IT Audit” (which can be found here) discussed at a high level about EMC and our phased approach to the transformation to a private cloud model — and there’s a ton of detail with hard-nosed ROI and TCO savings (at significant scale) that should open the eyes of anyone who’s funding a large IT operation.

I suppose we could stop here, and just celebrate the cost savings to date, but there’s so much more to the story …

But There’s So Much More To Be Told

Although the report mostly focuses on cost savings associated with servers and storage, there wasn’t time to get into all the other fascinating aspects of this journey.

  • documenting how our operational costs (e.g. management effort) has been dramatically reduced in the new environment.
  • savings associated with consolidating applications and software stacks (think licenses, maintenance, maintenance effort, vendor interactions, etc.)
  • improving the overall performance and availability of our IT infrastructure in the process.
  • enabling more security and compliance capabilities to be built in, vs. bolted-on, resulting in a better risk management profile with easier compliance verification — and with less cost and effort.

The Softer Side

I don’t work for EMC IT. I’m on the business side. I’m a “captive customer” of EMC IT, and have been for 15 years.

As a business person — and a customer, let me put it to you this way: they’ve become far more responsive, and far more flexible. The infrastructure isn’t getting in the way as much ; they’ve got more time to engage, and variable infrastructure support to deploy quickly on new projects.

Our discussions now center around “how quickly can we get there” rather than “why that’s going to take a long time”. They understand the business, and their role in accelerating it. In business, speed matters, and they’re starting to deliver speed.

Sure, they’re saving the company money. Sure they’re more reliable and secure. But I’d expect that as “table stakes” from any IT organization. And, as an EMC stockholder, that’s a good thing — in an abstract way.

But — across the business — the EMC IT team is starting to make a real and visceral business impact. Many of us are extremely pleased to work this new internal business partner.

And what IT organization wouldn’t want that sort of relationship with the business?

About the Author: Chuck Hollis