Jeremy Burton, President, Products EMC Information Infrastructure during the event.
LONDON: Storage virtualization juggernaut EMC held its Redefine Possible event in London on July 8, where The VAR Guy was treated to several new products and updates to EMC's existing XtremIO platform. In keeping with classic British sci-fi fashion, the Doctor Who-themed event featured numerous TARDIS-like police booths and references to England's most popular doctor, as well as a healthy dose of storage virtualization news and announcements. Ever a fan of the good doctor, The VAR Guy took in the news and kept his eyes open for any Daleks in the audience.
EMC Information Infrastructure CEO David Goulden opened the media presentation by outlining some of the challenges facing IT in meeting storage requirements for their hybrid cloud arrays. Among these challenges, Goulden said dealing with existing workload growth, infrastructure application drag and performance-hungry workloads were the most prominent problems for end users. With today's announcements, EMC is working to "redefine" what is possible with hybrid cloud storage by introducing several new products and solutions.
Next up, EMC's President of Products and Marketing Jeremy Burton took the stage to outline each of the new announcements in detail. Before jumping in, Burton talked about the advantages of the XtremIO system over similar storage arrays and its level of success after being released earlier this year. According to Burton, the array has already garnered more than $100 million for EMC in less than six months, making it one the fastest growing all-flash arrays on the market.
EMC first announced the Starter X-Brick storage array and the addition of up to six X-Bricks for customers with heavier workloads. New XtremIO snapshots also are available with the new arrays, with EMC promising zero limitations on performance, features or capacity reservations due to the system's in-memory metadata architecture.
EMC also is readying the release of the VMAX family-the industry's first series of all-flash arrays with open enterprise data service platforms, according to the company-later this year. The three new models add the HYPERMAX OS open converged storage hypervisor and operating system and Dynamic Virtual Matrix architecture into the lineup.
HYPERMAX OS enables users to embed storage infrastructure services such as cloud access, data mobility and data protection directly to their arrays without having to save it remotely, according to the company. Burton noted the OS OScan helps customers lower their total cost of ownership by up to 50 percent while reducing their physical footprint and energy needs.
The Dynamic Virtual Matrix, meanwhile, offers the ability to dynamically allocate processing power to meet distinctive service levels across their workloads, essentially allowing users to dictate which areas receive the most processing power.
EMC also announced it has acquired TwinStrata, which will enable the company to deliver new embedded cloud access capabilities to customers with its cloud-tiering technology. Financial details of the acquisition were not provided.
Burton also offered information on the release of XtremIO 3.0, EMC's newest free software code update to increase the efficiency of its existing all-flash arrays. The software adds in-memory, metadata space-efficient snapshots to create high-performance application copies while providing inline, always-on data compression, according to EMC.
And last but not the least, EMC is updating its existing Isilon storage unit to enable enterprise users to take advantage of a singular "Data Lake" of compiled information. IsilonOneFS provides an enterprise-grade scale-out Data Lake, with twice the performance of similar platforms, according to the company. The Isilon X210 and X410 platforms are the newest additions to the portfolio. An additional Data Lake Hadoop Bundle will allow users to help businesses improve their backup and replication abilities while bridging their Big Data efforts with their Data Lake architecture.
In an exclusive conversation with Kuwait Times newspaper, Adrian McDonald, President, EMEA, revealed EMC's future plans and how they always manage to stay one step ahead of the competition. Excerpts:
Kuwait Times: EMC is the world's largest provider of data storage systems. Are you resting on your laurels?
Adrian McDonald: No. If anything came across today, it was our focus on what today is and the future. We've seen a world with rapid change and the pace of change has become faster. Change in business has accelerated and the need for IT has become more intense. There is a greater need for business and greater need for governments, so everyone needs web scales, performance and analytics. A lot of it is not only to save money but also to invest the saved money in new applications to sustain the pace of change that's accelerating.
KT: In this era of Big Data and Internet of Things, how do you manage to stay on top of your game?
McDonald: In the IT industry, things are going in a three-year cycle or five-year cycle max. We spend 12 percent of our research and development in total sales with $25 billion a year, which is $3.5 billion on research and development. We also spend $2 billion a year on acquisitions and all of them are new means to get into the market. We were known as a storage company in the past. I spent time in Kuwait in the 1990s and at that time, EMC was a storage company and now storage is only 28 percent of what we do while 52 percent is software and 20 percent is services. We are doing all we can to provide leadership for our customers in two key areas. We take cost out of second platform applications and make them more agile and then we try to use that investment to come out with third platform applications. Everyone loves the brand EMC, especially in Kuwait and they want EMC to be their partner in those changes.
KT: The 'Digital Universe' is expanding rapidly. How prominently does EMC figure in it?
McDonald: We'd like to think immensely! It depends on the subject matter. We frequently talk about the effect of the new digital world on the consumer and we see Apple and Samsung and we talk about the things that affect the individuals. We don't often talk about the means of how we manage the information. There are more phones than people in the world with all the 'Internet of Things' developing. However, what we don't talk about is where is it collected, how and when do we provide it to the customer services and how to provide a citizen services and how can I provide that at a lower cost enabling more benefits going forward? We are trying to provide platforms for our customers with fully virtualized, highly automated software. Everyone wants their business to be automated and we're in the middle of something called software-defined data center. We are in the middle of all the relevant changes in the information infrastructure in 2014 and in the near future.
KT: With new startups like Actifio, Nutanix and Nimble snapping at your heels, what is EMC doing to counter them? Do you see them as existential threats? What about established competitors like HP, IBM NetApp and Hitachi?
McDonald: The No. 1 subject on everyone's mind is "I need to get new applications more quickly and my business needs to compete with my competitors better than before". So Pivotal does two things: it does agile application development which means while NBK and Kuwait Airways will need a long time to produce an application, EMC can help them do that in weeks. Part of that is processes and people that work with you in team and part of that is software and how you automate these processes. They have a great deal of time working with an agile environment. Pivotal will help you to build the platforms that allow you to better understand what your customers want. Many companies are good at one thing but EMC's skill has been to reinvent itself on a number of occasions, and we are currently going through one of these reinventions. We are enabling private clouds and in Kuwait, I think private clouds will be very large.
KT: EMC has its regional Middle East COE in Egypt. Has the turmoil there affected operations? Are you mulling a move to the Gulf, like Dubai for instance?
McDonald: We have what you call a Centre of Excellence in Egypt and EMC made the decision to ignore the issues there and employ more people in Egypt and to do even more work out of our Egyptian facilities. In fact, I was with the Centre of Excellence people in Cairo two weeks ago and the feedback was phenomenal. We may add to these centers in Riyadh and South Africa and it is useful to work with youth in these countries, in their markets and to develop more skill. So we have 700 employees in Egypt and we want to find good reasons and valid business reasons to do business in other countries.
KT: Do you support students?
McDonald: Absolutely! We support students and we also have courses and work with colleges in the Middle East. For example, there is a big need for data scientists, so data analytics is useless unless someone is there to interpret it but there are not enough data scientists in the world, so we are working with many universities in Egypt and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and certainly many of the Gulf states to develop university courses to get more students. It will be very profitable for the employee and very useful for society subjects.
KT: What are the latest innovations in hybrid clouds?
McDonald: Basically EMC has all the tools to develop the private hybrid clouds from an infrastructure perspective. What Vmax does is, it takes your block data and differentiates which should stay in a private cloud environment and which can be used in a public cloud environment, under what circumstances and with what security parameters etc. So it was the tool we needed to fill out and complete our hybrid cloud offering.
KT: What do you think about Kuwait's market?
McDonald: It's great! The growth market for us in the Middle East is large and we are optimistic about our opportunities in the Middle East. In fact, Qatar also plays a big role in the market for everyone and likewise with Kuwait.
By Islam Al-Sharaa
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