Unplugged, Amped Up, and Ready to Take on The Second Machine Age

image008A year ago as I prepared to attend my first EMC World as the new head of what was then EMC’s Backup Recovery Systems Division, getting folks to think outside the box about backup and archive was top of mind for me.

Fast-forward a year (and I do mean fast-forward – wow, that was a quick 365 days!) and how truly fantastic is it that I can say that we’ve done more than just check that box; we’ve really moved the needle when it comes to data protection.

Yes, we amped up our portfolio by making some key product updates throughout the year that will help ensure we can support the next waves of big data, cloud computing, social networking and mobile computing that awaits us and help you bridge between traditional and next-generation platforms.

Yes, we brought replication and availability back under our roof and renamed ourselves the Data Protection and Availability Division to more aptly reflect the full spectrum of data protection solutions we uniquely provide – from backup to archive, to snapshot, to continuous availability – to meet our customers’ different data requirements.

But equally important we’ve taken some very big steps as a division, and as an organization, to help get folks to think about data protection, and IT in general, in business terms.

We want organizations to think beyond CAPEX savings and return on investment. These are undoubtedly important to the bottom-line, but they are not game-changers. To be relevant tomorrow, organizations need to think about IT in business-enabling terms today (i.e., how should we align IT investments to business goals, how can we leverage data protection to drive innovation faster or outpace our competitors, etc.). Importantly, research shows that organizations that are data-driven are more productive than those that aren’t. The question is, can data protection infrastructures keep pace?

If you catch our keynote at EMC World today (you can also gain virtual access via our Data Protection Community page), you’ll hear the folks from Wells Fargo, Sub-Zero Group, and Nielsen unplugged and talking about how they’re continuously innovating around IT, and how they’re redefining data protection within their organizations.

While these three organizations are at very different stages of transformation and have very different environments, they share a “boardroom” view of IT, and this is huge.

Regardless of how much data they have, what applications they used to create it, or where their data resides (mainframe, private cloud, etc.), making sure this data is accessible anytime, anywhere, and on any platform or device is their #1 priority. It’s about understanding customers’ needs and delivering the tools internally to meet these needs.

In this way, the journey we’re on in the IT world is not unlike the one we’ve been on in the music world. The music’s the same (okay, unquestionably, it was better in the 80s), but the way it’s delivered (i.e., the way customers are consuming it) has changed dramatically. The question is who would you rather be: Sony, Blockbuster, Apple, or Pandora…?

Like Wells Fargo, Sub-Zero Group, and Nielsen, we’re all on a journey, and it’s our goal not only to help you keep on pace but also minimize as many bumps along the way as we can.

For organizations, this means:

  • New consumption models: Organizations need to be thinking of IT in “as a Service” terms, and this means delivering Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS) in the cloud, in mainframe environments or in physical environments. Here, multi-tenancy and APIs will be key, allowing organizations to basically manage themselves.
  • Increased visibility and control for the data owners across the organization. This means getting much closer to the applications themselves and amping up self-provisioning.
  • Broad spectrum data protection: Organizations need to provide a data protection continuum. On the RTO/RPO scale, this means providing services all the way from cold storage on a deep archive all the way to high availability on primary storage.

And for us, this means:

  • Never becoming complacent: The market continues to evolve, use cases move on, consumption models move on, the way in which people write applications move on, etc., so sitting back and relaxing is not an option. We must continually evolve and that means continually disrupting ourselves.
  • Continually investing in data protection: It’s important that our customers are able to meet service-level objectives whatever they are, and the tighter we integrate with our technologies and with third-party applications the better; the more value we’ll be able to offer.
  • Providing value across “the federation”: By federation, we mean across our RSA, Pivotal, and VMware families as well as with our storage business. Our work with VMware is critical for the cloud; Pivotal for mobility and cloud-based applications; and RSA to address security issues resulting from the data sprawl.

If you’ve been following my “Five Things Our Kids’ Kids Won’t Know” series, you know the magnitude of change that’s ahead. Exciting? Definitely, although I’m a bit nostalgic for the days when stores were closed on Sundays and kids learned to drive on stick shifts. Scary? A bit but life without challenge is, well, a bit boring.

Those of you who know me, know I love music, but have never managed to actually click with playing it, which has been somewhat frustrating. But what I find cool is being able to listen to it on whatever format I feel like at the time – whether it’s my tricked-out record deck or through streaming media. Similarly, it’s rewarding to help customers transform regardless of what platform or stage of the IT journey they are on. In the end, it’s all music to our ears.

Guy Churchward

About the Author: Guy Churchward