Ready For The Cloud: EMC E-Lab Goes Virtual

When it comes to making an important IT purchase decision, what factors are most important to you? Is it performance? Price? Reliability? ROI? Service and support?

While all of these factors are critical for success, our customers consistently tell us that most important in their minds is the assurance a product will work when it is installed within their environment.

Our customers realize that the latest product features and functionality mean little if a new product doesn’t integrate seamlessly into their current environment.

At EMC E-Lab, our goal is to provide our customers with the highest level of interoperability assurance. E-Lab tests and qualify thousands of different configurations, including both EMC and third-party storage arrays, servers, switches, and adapters. The byproduct of this extensive testing can be found in the EMC Support Matrix, which features millions of qualified configurations that can be easily accessed through the E-lab Navigator, our powerful query tool , which accesses this data and provides a variety of collateral outputs  for our customer.

While E-Lab has long been seen as the industry’s leading interoperability testing lab, a major transformation is happening in the second half of 2012 as E-Lab strives to become more efficient and accessible to our customers, partners, and employees.

A major part of the transformation will be the move of the lab itself. Much like EMC’s own data center and those of our customers, E-Lab constantly strives to operate more efficient by utilizing virtualization and cloud computing technologies. Beginning this month, E-Lab will begin its transformation from a physical lab located in Hopkinton, MA, to a virtual lab that can be accessed anywhere in the world.

E-Lab engineers will now conduct all product testing via the cloud, enabling a more flexible testing strategy that better aligns with our increasingly mobile and global employee base. In the future, we plan on opening the virtual E-Lab to partners and customers, allowing them to utilize E-Lab’s immense infrastructure for their own interoperability and solutions testing. This will be the first of many on demand Infrastructure as a Service offerings from E-Lab.

The E-Lab currently contains 21,000 square ft. of equipment, including multiple releases and versions of most hardware and software.  Moving forward E-Lab will now share its physical infrastructure with EMC’s recently opened “data center of the future” in Durham, North Carolina. This will help us make significant reductions in cost, energy usage, and CO2 emissions. The Durham data center is one of the world’s most environmentally friendly, using fresh air cooling instead of A/C throughout most of the year, and features a roof-top water collection system that reduces water consumption by up to 40%.

How will this transformation affect our customers? You can still expect the same level of interoperability focus and coverage through our deep knowledge, expertise, and partner ecosystem as you have experienced in the past. We will continue our focus on qualification and interoperability of all EMC and third party products and solution offerings. We will also continue to maintain our focus, as always,  on providing leadership and direction to our customers and partners as we guide and help them transform their data centers.

The move to Durham will also allow us to offer our customers more testing services and assurances. For example, today’s cloud and Big Data environments are extremely resource intensive, making interoperability testing difficult for most labs. E-Lab’s highly virtualized infrastructure will allow us to test Big Data solutions from EMC Greenplum and Isilon, as well as application mobility and disaster recovery with EMC VPLEX, and many other cloud-ready products and services. This will help our customers deploy these transformative technologies faster and with greater ease. We envision E-Lab becoming the first step in your journey to the cloud.

We also hope that E-Lab’s transformation from physical to virtual world will serve as a model for our customer’s as they move to their own cloud environments. With today’s IT organizations facing ever-increasing Service Level Agreements and declining budgets, driving greater data center efficiency is a must. With our move, we hope to demonstrate that the cloud isn’t just for net new opportunities or smaller data centers, but can be relied upon for all mission critical IT resources, regardless of focus and complexity.

About the Author: Carolyn Muise