EMC exec looks to the future

EMC exec looks to the future

At the recent EMC World in Orlando, chief development officer, Mark Lewis, sat down with IDG's DENI CONNOR to chat about the vendor's past, present and future.

What is the biggest single problem users have with data?
In a nutshell and in the construct of managing data, the overarching thing we constantly hear with the growth of data is that it all comes down to how we manage it and make it useful to people. At the highest level, it comes down to three sub-elements: How do I make more money with my data; how do I change the economics of storing it; and how do I stay out of gaol?

What is EMC doing to merge its storage resource management platforms?
We undertook over a year ago a re-architecture of our resource management platforms to evolve our ControlCenter product line and our element managers themselves into a common platform. This includes the re-working and building of a common platform framework we call Common Management Platform [CMP] and creating not just a common look and feel but, ultimately, a common user interface toolkit for engineers to build from so they will share the same look and feel. All this is happening now. Individual products will start to roll out at the end of this year and throughout next year we will be phasing it in across the product line.

With all of the products - Symmetrix, Clariion, Centera and Celerra - management will converge from a user interface standpoint to a common user interface. We have [individual silos of management] that were driven by two frameworks - they tended to have very different uses. If you were a Clariion user, you wanted a Windows look and feel, an easier-to-use user interface and usability was paramount; when you went into a Symmetrix environment, it was more Unix-based and users wanted more knobs, controls and more scripting. When we built the new piece we had to make sure we retained those high-end needs and scriptable interface and still had something easy enough to use.

As you introduced tiered storage and information lifecycle management, we saw customers start using a variety of EMC platforms.
Exactly. That's the type of customer who without information lifecycle management would have originally bought only one type of storage. Customers [with heterogeneous EMC environments] have said they not only need one look and feel, but one architectural construct and one configuration management database, one core provisioning system. So it's not that the Clariion GUI will look like the Symmetrix GUI; it's if you put a Clarion and a Symmetrix on a common storage-area network, you'll have the same management interface and be able to understand the relationships between the two arrays.

De-duplication of data has been used primarily with virtual tape libraries and disk-based backup. Will we see de-duplication in other areas?
You will see more de-duplication across multiple use cases from EMC. You are seeing it now around our focus on online backups, where the maximum leverage can be maintained. We are seeing 300-to-1 de-duplication over numerous machines. De-dupe will see some presence overtime in traditional file system technologies. We expect to see it in arrays, but not at the rate of de-duplication in backup technologies.

EMC has talked a little about software-as-a-service. Tell us about your plans.
ML: We see a model evolving that will also involve us playing a software-as-a-service business delivery game. We want to deliver a business function. This is not five years ago "back to the future", when everybody wanted to be a storage service provider and provide some type of SCSI storage for so much a month. That's not this. It's not managed services. When we talk software-as-a-service, it's delivery of a business function, the same way or does it - you are talking about an on-demand function. The function we look to provide is around the concept of data vaulting revolving around backup, archiving and compliance. It will be able to index and do records search and recovery. This can be delivered as an application service. You wouldn't be buying any hardware or software. The functional construct we use is Data Vault - we do have a code name, but haven't released it yet.

Tell us what other future technologies EMC is working on.
We think the next big evolution is the migration from application-centric focused architectures to information-centric architectures. You will see in our Documentum line more transactional content management solutions that are end-to-end solutions with business process management and workflow built in, so a customer can automate different content or information-centric functions.

For example, I go into insurance claims processing and I want to automate that processing of the claim. The difference is that we used to manage information from the application. We think that data is going to move from being an underling to those applications to being a peer with them. You will be able to implement one information management policy that will affect hundreds of systems and applications. Workflow, orchestration and business process management tools will link the applications together. Before, people would build applications to tie this information together. What will now tie them together is information workflow. There's obviously a ton of workflow engines and we won't attack them ourselves, but there are very information-centric workflow cases we are interested in.

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