Introducing the Architecture of the Future: Mapping the Way to IT Success

At EMC, as with many companies across the globe today, we are pursuing our path to digital transformation—enabled by our internal IT Transformation. For EMC IT, digital transformation points us towards a vision of personalized products and services, real-time information and analytics smartly helping ‘pilot’ the business, and contemporary customer experiences enabled on smart devices. In other words, we are transforming EMC into a software defined enterprise (SDE). The question is what does “software defined enterprise” (SDE) really mean for IT and how do we get there. By way of an answer, our Office of Architecture and Innovation team recently came up with a game plan—appropriately called EMC IT Architecture of the Future.

We have created a comprehensive blueprint detailing the foundational architecture principles which are critical to achieving our software defined enterprise goals. While the priorities highlighted in the plan are not new, this is the first time IT has brought them together in a single vision defining how each fits to deliver SDE.  The intent is to help clearly communicate IT’s role in making the notion of SDE a reality.

The resulting blueprint—which we are promoting throughout our organization with posters, blogs and videos— diagrams the components of how IT will approach the architecture of the future. It is a holistic vision of a software defined enterprise that will deliver value to our customers.


Market Trends and More

As a starting point for the blueprint, we looked at four current market trends underpinning digital transformations and helping direct IT solutions: mobile-based consumption, making everything programmable, hybrid cloud and predictive analytics. And we looked at the specific problems we are trying to solve in IT to provide trend-shifting value for our customers. They include:

1. Be a trusted agile enabler for our EMC business by providing the speed and efficiency that is required of IT and IT systems.

2. Mitigate business risks by being adaptive to changing business models, as well as managing security risks.

3. The employee population (end-users) is one of our important customer segments and we want to enable them to do their jobs with the highest levels of productivity.

Beyond these market factors, we have also seen two shifting trends within architecture frameworks itself. One is that workloads define the platform requirements. The second is that architectures are moving away from a total reliance on hardware resilience to much more on software resilience.

Our blueprint starts with the basics. Every IT stack has three layers to it: Platform–including infrastructure and security—at the bottom, applications and data that sit on top of the platform, and then user technologies that leverage the apps and the data.


Based on those three layers of architecture, we came up with a star-shaped diagram of our vision for our software-define enterprise with Contemporary User Experience at its center and six key architectural elements revolving around it. Putting user experience at the center underscores EMC IT’s commitment to being user-centric. This is enabled by our strategy that leverages contemporary tools and applications to enhance IT user satisfaction, including improved productivity and infrastructure access.

The six other elements radiating from this are:

1. Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) with Hybrid Clouds— utilizing virtualization software and cloud technology to deliver customer-centric IT-as-a-Service for cloud platform services, which are characterized by highly availability, seamless access and fast, flexible offerings at the right price. These are the tenets of the Modern Data Center.

2. Adaptive Data-driven Security—maintaining trust across information assets and infrastructure, and implementing the same controls and policies regardless of where the data is.

3. Rationalizing Enterprise Applications—enabling the next-generation of third platform capabilities (cloud-native, mobile, social, data-driven) by consolidating and simplifying applications that enable business-critical transactions.

4. Big Data Analytics—getting data into consumable formats, providing the business with secure access to that data to leverage the insights to be proactive and predictive.

5. Automation—removing manual processes to enable the business to be more agile and to deliver things to market faster.

6. A Third Platform API Marketplace— creating a catalog of application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable the business to be self-servicing by providing building blocks for software and applications.

By creating this blueprint, we are able to have linkage back to the trends and the goals that we started out with. We are also providing a forward-looking illustration that relates to the actual list of actions needed to deliver each element so that the road map can be set up appropriately.

For IT, that means becoming the trusted advisor to business customers enabling not only table-stakes services, but also differentiating services. Our architects are embedded and very much involved in helping analyze and provide solutions for the business. Working in conjunction with the business and IT partners allows our architects to understand not only the challenges but also the opportunities at hand. We can then help them transform using digital technologies. And we will accelerate business satisfaction, whether employee or lines of business, by providing new capabilities with plug and play speed and agility.

Stay tuned for more detailed information about where this vision will take us.

About the Author: KK Krishnakumar