Redefining EMC IT: A Fresh Strategy to Reach the New ITaaS World

In my last blog about Redefining IT into a successful IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operation, I described how EMC IT partnered with our trusted IT consultants, EMC Services, to help us assess, refocus and accelerate our IT transformation progress.

As I noted, we were stalled.  While we had achieved significant benefits from adopting a standardized and virtualized infrastructure, we had an operating model and 2,000-person organization that had one foot in traditional IT and one foot in ITaaS. With EMC Services’ help, we regrouped, assessed our model’s maturity level and created a clearer roadmap to move forward. The next step was creating the workstreams to execute against that roadmap; reshaping our organization’s processes and the roles of our people in the new ITaaS world.

We structured our program as follows:

  • Three core service portfolio workstreams:
    • Infrastructure
    • Applications and Data
    • End-User
  • An IT Operating Model workstream consisting of five sub-streams:
    • Service Portfolio Management
    • Financial Management
    • IT Systems
    • IT Process and Governance
    • BU/Client Engagement
  • An IT Strategy workstream (Will address in a future blog)
  • A Human and Organizational Change Management workstream
Click to Enlarge



The objective of the infrastructure transformation workstream is to realize the potential of the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) as quickly as possible.  We have a great head start being 94 percent virtualized.  However, recent product innovations from the EMC Federation (EMC’s alignment with affiliated companies VMware, Pivotal, and RSA) around network virtualization, storage virtualization, and automation/orchestration offerings provide opportunities to drive lower total cost of ownership (TCO), improved security, greater speed and agility, and maintain current high levels of quality and availability.

End-User Compute/Experience

The end-user workstream’s objective is to provide the consumer-grade, personalized experience in the working environment that we have come to expect at home from our personal technologies, but with the security and trust that EMC needs to protect our customers, shareholders and employees.  This workstream covers all aspects of connectivity, communication, collaboration, conferencing, content management and personal productivity solutions–everything that enables our EMC employees to work productively from anywhere.

Applications and Data

While we have innovated in the areas of data and application integration over the past few years, the applications space is the one that’s ripest for transformation.  Our application portfolio today is solidly 2nd platform.  Our portfolio of mobile apps is still small and our “mobile first” mantra is still a bit aspirational.  We needed a big, bold vision to rally our team around, and here’s what the workstream has come up with as attributes of our application target state:

  • Cloud optimized
    • Loosely coupled
    • Stateless
  • Data platform agnostic
  • Data optimized
    • Leverages Big Data analytics
    • Improves data quality
  • Leverages enterprise business and platform services
  • Mobile-first
  • Agile and built on automated Platform as a Service (PaaS), as well as DevOps aware
  • Social enabled
  • Built-in security at every application layer
  • Designed for failure (software resiliency even if platform services fail)
  • Designed for serviceability
  • SaaS and packaged apps implemented “vanilla” with all custom business differentiators developed on PaaS and integrated.


It’s rare when there’s unanimous agreement across a large IT organization; however, everyone in EMC IT agrees that the IT operating model is an absolutely critical component.  It is the central nervous system for IT.  When it’s not working well, IT is uncoordinated, unresponsive, frustrating, and disappointing. We all have a strong sense of urgency around evolving our operating model into a well-oiled machine that enables us to succeed in the eyes of our customers with minimal wasted effort.

My colleague, Mike Norris, penned an internal blog at EMC about the operating model transformation and this excerpt does a great job of laying out the moving pieces:

The operating model transformation seeks to evolve the way we interact with our customers, how we get work done, how we interact with each other, and how we invest our money to achieve that mission.  We are fundamentally talking about running IT as a business.  What are the core components to running a business?

  • Differentiated capabilities that are manifested in IT products and services.
  • An understanding of our customers that allows us to match those services to their needs.
  • A focus on delivering those services in an efficient way that delights our customers and makes them want more.
  • A sound investment strategy that allows us to create new capabilities and mature our offerings ahead of demand.

To facilitate the changes necessary in the IT operating model and progress in sync with the technology transformations underway, we have created five sub-workstreams within the operating model workstream:

  • Service Portfolio Management: Solidifying our approach to align our capabilities as services and managing them through the lifecycle of create, build, operate, and retire is a critical function to running IT like a business. As an internal IT operation, we do and should continue to know our customers’ needs better than anyone.  A strong engagement with our customers allows us to position existing capabilities to meet current needs and understand and prepare for future demands.
  • Financial Management: Running IT as a business requires fundamental changes in the way we operate Finance in IT—namely a shift from a centralized, cost-center-based budget to a consumption-based funding model in which users are billed for what they consume.That requires we understand how each of our services is performing, analyze the cost competitiveness of those services, and making the appropriate funding decisions based on our strategy. While past financial transformation efforts have done a great job getting core infrastructure services into a chargeback model, this next leg of the journey is about extending the model to all IT services and maturing the financial management processes we use in IT.
  • IT Systems: While we have long under-invested in the systems we use to run IT, having an integrated set of systems that facilitate the efficient delivery of services to our customers is critical to running IT like a business. We are working to optimize the overall capabilities of our systems to make it easier for our customers to acquire services and support from IT as well as for IT practitioners to do their jobs.
  • IT Process and Governance: As we evolve into an ITaaS model, it is important that we optimize or eliminate processes that do not add value in serving our customers or appropriately managing risk.  We are seeking to create a well-thought-out structure of governance and processes that provide operational guardrails and allow flexibility to meet business demands.One of the key governance themes we’ve had to address is how to balance the often conflicting objectives of delivering business agility and controlling risk and cost, which often leads to debate about central versus decentralized organizational structures.
  • BU/Client Engagement: Every IT organization aspires to become a more strategic business partner and less of an order-taker. While it’s crucial to be responsive to customer needs, the ITaaS model places a much bigger emphasis on the ability to shape demand by delivering consultative value that unlocks “the art of the possible” and guiding consumption toward standardized offerings in our catalog.  To do so, we need a more comprehensive and influential engagement model, as well as needing stronger marketing, selling and consulting skills and culture within the team.


One of the strong pieces of feedback we’d received from earlier legs of the journey was that employees were not involved enough in the process. We engineered things in a darkened room with a small circle of employees “in the know” and unveiled it all to employees after all the key decisions had been made.

We vowed to take a more collaborative and inclusive approach this time. Our original plan was to create a team of about 30 employee thought leaders– an Employee Champions team –who would act as a bottoms-up steering committee for IT leaders.  We would use the team to socialize our ideas, extract their ideas, and keep our efforts grounded with the realities of day-to-day life on the front lines of IT.  However, when we asked for volunteers, we got close to 250 from across the globe!  While this was a fantastic indication of the hunger our employees had for involvement, it also provided some logistical challenges.  We ended up welcoming all 250 volunteers and splitting the team up into four sub teams.

The 30-member Values Champions team acted as the originally-envisioned steering committee.  We also asked them to assess what values our current and past actions supported, and to determine what our future values should be. Here are the values the team identified and we’ve committed to:


We also created a Transformation Innovation team tasked with crowd-sourcing innovations from our employees relating directly to our transformational journey; a Communication Roundtables team to participate in discussions with IT leaders and carry the messages out to their teams and bring back feedback; and a Communication Network team to help make our social media site as vibrant as possible and find other channels for transformation news.

All four teams are active and making fantastic contributions.  We are still in the early stages of developing the detailed change management plan, but our Employee Champions will factor prominently in it.

In my next blog, I will outline our new IT Strategy, and how that will further accelerate our transformational efforts.

About the Author: Jon Peirce