by November 13, 2013 0 comments

EMC has had an exciting journey, starting from being an enterprise storage products company, and into becoming a conglomeration of companies that offers solutions around storage, virtualization, cloud, Big Data, and many other things. As a result, the company’s services portfolio has expanded considerably. We spoke to Mike Koehler, Sr. VP, EMC Global Services on how they’re dealing with this expanding portfolio, and what sort of painpoints and challenges are CIOs facing in the new world of software defined everything. The discussion was held at the EMC Forum that took place in Mumbai on Oct 3-4 last month.

What’s the growth story at emc global services?

Mike: We’ve been a company on a journey of our own, starting with storage and then getting into a lot of areas.With success, you get growth, which is a good thing, but sometimes you get unfocused growth. As a result, our services portfolio got very wide. So we spent the last year focusing back more narrowly on what we as EMC, the federation of companies care about–Cloud, Big Data, and now, the whole notion of SDC (Software Defined Cloud) and SDS (Software Defined Storage). With SDS and SDC, we’re starting the services consultative framework, because both of them are services led, and the discussions usually start around how to take the first steps to get there.

What sort of requirements or painpoints are you hearing from CIOs these days?

Mike: One pain point is that there’s an emerging trend of core IT organizations not being able to deliver IT as a service fast enough for the business. So the businesses are finding alternative providers, e.g. Amazon, Azure, etc. The key pain point for CIOs therefore is that they didn’t get themselves prepared for this, and need help to do so. We’re helping IT organiztions catch up, by delivering more aggressive services and retraining the workforce. That’s because CIOs feel that it’s one thing to get there, but they can’t sustain if they don’t have the skills/capabilities to run it. We’re therefore, also doing education and resonancy services to help them.


On one side, public cloud computing providers like AWS are pulling CIOs in their direction, while on the other, players like emc are pitching SDC and SDS implementation on premise. isn’t it confusing CIOs?

Mike: I think the pendulum has swung too far, where AWS says they can do it all here, and IT organiztions are concerned about loss of control of saying no. So we’re going to live in a world of the broker notion, where CIOs make a decision on choosing the right place to place their workloads. It won’t all be in the shop, nor will it all be in the cloud, but I agree, it’s a little bit of market emerging and CIOs are not ready for it. It’s also the IT organization itself, because if they don’t understand where their careers and jobs are going, they’ll be resistant to it as well. Because of that, they will create more barriers than necessary, as they won’t have any interest in making this happen. But the good organiztions will figure out what to keep in the private cloud and what to move to the public cloud, and it would all be a business decision.

What sort of skillset requirements do enterprises require these days?

Mike: It’s more of converged skillsets. In the past, if you were in the data tier, your world revolved around LUNs. You never really spent time on how network protocols worked and other things. In this converged world, it’s important to understand some depth of networking, compute, storage, etc. Where it all ties together is in the management orchestration layer. That’s where I think this new, emerging skillset will come. When I manage events in the environment, I have to look across compute, network, storage, etc. So if I want to deploy something and burst it out into the public cloud for scalability reason, then the orchestration has to have my security parameters, data parameters, and applications parameters all moving together and seamlessly into the public cloud together. It’s a whole new orchestration that we’ve never seen before. We’re still creating this in the industry, so there’s no perfect answer to it right now. But if you consider the CIO and the IT organization as a broker, then that broker must orchestrate across all these boundaries and points. That’s a whole new set of tech and skillsets that are not there today.

Isn’t it better to outsource the new skillset requirements than having everything in-house?

Mike: More progressive organizations leave some subset of that inhouse, but you see a lot of selective outsourcing of that.

Are you also offering any services in the public cloud?

Mike: Not directly today, but it’s through our service providers. Clearly, the service providers are building the infrastructure to do it.

Do you see companies like AWS as a threat, considering that you’re asking CIOs to setup private cloud, while public cloud players are doing the opposite?

Mike: EMC is a federated company, so you get different answers. If you look through the lens of Pivotal (EMC’s latest acquisition), which talks about an application development enrivonmnet, then they’re agnostic. It doesn’t matter to them. But if you’re VMware, you want everything to be on VMware. Likewise, if you get down to EMC core storage, it doesn’t matter if it’s VMware or Open Stack, because EMC storage will work on both. As a result, it gives customers more choice.

How do you see the indian market and how is it different from the rest of the world?

Mike: If you look at private cloud adoption, it has been slower than other markets. Americas is the fastest market, followed by EMEA, and then APJ and Indian market. But people are not questioning whether this is here to stay, or not waiting for the next big wave. Everybody is beliving this is real and moving. It’s now moving with much more energy. A lot of our consultative capabilities, we see a lot of bookings and engagements in the Indian and APJ markets. Some of the data around Big Data suggests that it will be a game changer.

How’s big data doing globally?

Mike: It’s following a similar trend. Just now, people have done a lot of strategy work around Big Data. They want to believe it, but want to see success stories. E.g. an oil and gas company would want to know the gap between what’s in their pipeline vs what’s sold to the retailers, and determine its impact on their business.

What advice would you have for cios to embark on this transformation journey?

If I look at successes in other parts of the world, the ones that have been more successful are the ones who have picked something they know they can be more successful at. That’s the starting point. We’ve seen others who’ve built a large strategy, but took a long time to get to execution, and because the vision was so grand, people discounted it because it was slow. That creates more apprehension, tension, and more questioning vs picking an app, servers, deptt, and going very deep into that, and show success. Those are seen to be more successful over time. Second, at the same time, launch a skills transformation program. Some people wait to do that, saying that they’d want to do the pilot first. But if they launch it at the same time, then they learn what it takes to transform their skillsets in the pilot itself, which helps in theiir long term plans to virtualize and put the cloud in place.







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