The quest for consolidation requires new models and reskilling: EMC

The quest for consolidation requires new models and reskilling: EMC

IT vendor explains the savings and the changes it experienced after spending close to a decade virtualising

Consolidation of IT can bring cost and time savings but may cause a shift in the IT workforce, according to EMC.

The observation came the way of Gartner’s recent Infrastructure and Operations Data Centre Summit in Sydney, where EMC marketing CTO, Clive Gold, spoke about transforming IT-as-a-service and EMC’s own IT journey to the Cloud.

By starting on the path towards virtualisation almost ten years ago, EMC has witnessed numerous changes to its operation, with the key one being a growing cost reduction over time as the company virtualised more aspects of its operation.

From 2004 to 2011, EMC has managed to reduce its IT costs by 23 per cent.

“In addition to huge savings in what we put on the floor, we also saw bigger savings in reduced power consumption,” Gold said.

While Gold admits that for some that number may not sound “amazing” at first glace, beyond the digits lies the fact that EMC experienced "a big transformation" as a business that brought about its own benefits.

One change Gold highlighted was that EMC went from servicing 24,000 “internal” users in 2004 to 50,000 in 2011.

“What we’re now focusing on is delivering IT-as-a-service, which is a big shift from purely focusing on the mechanics of IT and what we do within it, and thinking about consumption models and what people want to see,” he said.

However, in order to deliver IT-as-a-service, it can not rely on existing models and requires new ones.

“What we’re working towards is a new model in the infrastructure space, and that is the concept of the hybrid Cloud,” Gold said.

“We’re big users and we provide services that integrate into what we do locally.”

One of the major disruptions EMC faced recently was a "replatform" when it moved off the proprietary Sun operating system Solaris and onto Redhat Linux,

EMC also moved off its Sun Oracle server to the VCE Vblock converged infrastructure.

“They build it, it arrives in a ‘block’, we plug it in, load the applications and then run it,” Gold said.

“From a lifecycle point of view, they provide us with a single patch and we apply it across everything, so from an internal IT point of view we don’t have to worry about a lot things.”

The change has meant that EMC has experienced a 10-times performance gain, productivity gains of 60 to 90 per cent, and $7 million in savings.

Gold also highlighted how EMC had shifted from silos to services, and contrasted how 2008 was about vertical silos and 2011 was about unified products.

“We used to have silos and split systems depending on application, operating system, and what people were doing,” he said.

“We’re now in the phase of consolidating, but it is not the end of the story.”

Consolidation also took place in storage after it was virtualised, primarily because EMC made a “big data centre move” using VPLEX.

This in turn had an effect on the number of IT roles at EMC.

“These changes have had a marked effect on the skills and the type of people we’ve had, so we’ve done some interesting with roles in IT and our organisation,” Gold said.

However, Gold admits that there have been a reduction in the number of IT staff at EMC over the years during its virtualisation journey.

EMC has acquired approximately 60 different companies since 2002, and since all of them come with their own infrastructure and IT people, EMC has seen IT role counts change as the business consolidated and simplified over the years.

“Attrition has naturally occurred in our work force, so we have been actively re-skilling people,” Gold said.

“A lot of the storage people have become virtualisation people, so there are always opportunities to move into other areas.”

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