April - 2012 issue > In Conversation
CONVERGED INFRASTRUCTURE The Enterprise Trend Making Waves
By Jay Mastaj
Senior Vice President & General Manager-EMC Infrastructure Management Group
Monday, April 2, 2012
Converged infrastructure is one of the fastest-growing opportunities among growth drivers for enterprises today. By pre-integrating next-gen technologies and operational workflows, enterprise customers and service providers can get cloud-like benefits without having to build it themselves, and individually support the piece parts. It is a powerful and compelling argument, and it's winning over more IT decision makers every day.

Converged infrastructure essentially combines storage, server, and networking resources into a single platform. It is aimed helping ease the building of cloud computing infrastructures, an area which EMC is addressing with VCE, a company in which EMC, Cisco, Intel, and VMware have invested. Jay Mastaj, SVP & GM - Infrastructure Management Group, EMC Corporation talks about the adoption of converged infrastructure along with the opportunities and challenges it presents.


Challenges in Server Virtualization

Virtualization of the server has now become a challenge for us. This now requires people to look at things in a more horizontal manner in order to solve problems. Discovering this problem at an early stage we have looked at two things. First is to converge the infrastructure teaming with VM Ware, Cisco, Intel and others; this helped us in a huge service cost of deployment. The other thing what is important in the present industry environment is the automated provisioning and automated operations in order to understand as to what’s going on in the infrastructure. This is resonating especially with the CIOs because they can immediately see the computer components and also the value that they get in terms of TCL, cost which is the fundamental component of the equation. The higher line CIOs, CFOs and CEOs are resonating with this as to where this converged infrastructure is taking them because it is a very early stage in the process and this is starting to have some interesting dynamics and interesting challenges as the stove pipes figure out a way to do things.

Today, in IT 70 percent of every dollar goes into maintaining, configuring, updating and supporting the current infrastructure. It is 30 percent that goes to help the business reach the next level. This is what the converged infrastructure kind of tried to reduce the 70 percent into a more realistic, efficient and effective.

Top Concerns of CIO

I think the first and foremost problem is that there is just a limited set of choices. That is the beauty of the converged infrastructure that it is limited on purpose and hence has limited choices. One of the challenges while dealing with it is, when you are dealing with every combination it makes it very difficult to automate.

Cloud & Security Concerns

There are various concerns related to that but I could say that converged infrastructure could solve some of the problems of the cloud but not all of it. We usually do not hear people complaining about security because it is a very broad problem and there are a lot of independent problems related to security that need to be solved. One of the things that the V Block does for the security problem is that once we start getting the number of V Blocks, that starts working in conjunction with each other, we can now create a single implementation of security. We can hence build it centre outward. This facility was not available few years back to deploy a security access methodology inside of my company. So this actually helps u create as you need it as opposed to create something that could solve everything which has been a problem since day one.

Converged solutions & adoption in emerging markets

There has been positive response across the globe and now in Asia there is tremendous traction from the telecom providers regardless to which part of Asia it is, whether it is India or China. We are also seeing lot of proof of concepts particularly in Asia take off because the data centers are not that large and so if they can minimize footprint and simplify their models, they could actually take the opportunity to go and explore those ideas.

Competition Ahead

We are starting to see a few companies come out with their reference architecture and we are confident if we have the right type of infrastructure and how it should be implemented. And what could do here is that we could support the reference architecture. It solved the whole customer queries through which just one customer service person get in to trouble shoot and solve all of the problems as opposed to previous years. This could be later routed to the right individual right on for further trouble shooting.

Time to Deployment

We had actually done a study on to take network storage and compute and deploy them into new applications to any of these environments. It could take anywhere from three weeks to three months and in some cases even longer to pull together. However the solution from start to finish is generally deployed within two weeks. That is one of the proof points in which the customers appreciate the speed at which they can get a V Block into an environment, get it up and running and install certain productive elements in data centers.

Strategy Up Next

The next big opportunities we see are in the operational side. And the fact that provision is done across all fields, it allows us build top level services and to understand everything works. The next is to solving one of the big problems like security. Automation is one of the sectors we are focusing at so that we do not need orchestration as V Block itself will be automated. This means, there are minimum mistakes and less opportunities for people to be at fault. Once you know that the environment is stable and real, these higher level applications can be then useful. We will continue to work with Cisco and VM Ware to create new feature functionalities.

As of now, it is just in the stage of infancy and this is going to provide lot of opportunities for new ideas. These are one of the facts about cloud that helps us get to the next level.

(As told to Vimali Swamy)

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