“Wait, can ECS run Oracle?”

Stephen Klosky

Stephen Klosky

Advisory Systems Engineer, Cloud based Object Storage Systems, Federal, Advanced Storage Division at EMC Corporation
Advisory Systems Engineer, Cloud based Object Storage Systems, Federal, Advanced Storage Division, EMC Corporation

This was one of the most interesting questions which came up when I briefed EMC’s Federal division on the new Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) appliance.

With my recent focus on Object Storage, I hadn’t considered the ECS Block Services applications. Illustrating the block capabilities on ECS is new territory for me, and opens a whole new realm of possible system configurations.

During the briefing, there was a good discussion about the ECS block performance. Afterward, I dove deeper into the ECS block details. I connected with our ScaleIO Subject Matter Expert (SME) and our Oracle SME, and I learned a good bit in the process. I thought it would be helpful to share my findings.

wait, can ecs run oracle

Point 1: Oracle can run on most any block device. So, it’s technically possible to use ECS for Oracle.

Point 2: Oracle on ECS needs to be examined and validated on a case-by-case basis. Oracle system requirements range widely. So, just because Oracle can run on ECS, it doesn’t mean that ECS is the best platform or that ECS will meet the system’s requirements. This is an old “lesson learned” in the storage arena. We know that we have to fully understand the performance characteristics of both the system applications and its arrays.

So, where does it make sense to position Oracle on ECS? Where can we leverage ECS Block Services in our data centers?

Use Case 1: Small Scale Development Enclaves. The “Development Sandbox” use case is a great fit for ECS Block Services. With the ViPR-powered Self Service Catalog, the storage team can provide a self-service portal for the development team to stand up required classes of storage on demand. This approach reduces time to deploy, reduces administrative overhead and creates a reusable, recyclable, standard process for block data services.

Use Case 2: Extending Capacity. The ScaleIO engine for ECS is an exciting new technology. With a ScaleIO storage network, performance increases when more devices are added. So, if the system is currently performing well, and simply needs additional storage capacity, we can use ScaleIO to enable the current system, then add capacity with ECS frames.

Use Case 3: Tier 2 or Tier 3 Databases. If the storage team recognizes databases which have less demanding requirements, ECS is a great value for hosting this storage.

Bottom Line: It Depends. Like any “engineering questions,” the answer is “It Depends…” Sizing ECS Block Services for any workload requires proper engineering and analysis to ensure the system is properly sized to meet business requirements.

Security, Meet Functionality.

Brett Stafford

Brett Stafford

Director DOD Strategic Programs, Federal Division at EMC Corporation

In this day and age, it seems like a major data breach hits the news nearly every week. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated, hackers are becoming stealthier, and the impacts of these attacks are more widespread. Cybersecurity is a major concern that affects every organization, and especially those containing sensitive data like government agencies. In fact, a recent survey from TechAmerica found that cybersecurity is the number one priority for Federal CIOs and CISOs, even above cloud computing and transforming IT operations.

At the same time, however, employees increasingly demand more functionality from their mobile devices and IT systems. EMC’s recent Privacy Index study found that 91% of respondents value the benefit of “easier access to information and knowledge” that digital technology affords, and 27% say they are willing to trade some privacy for greater convenience and ease online. In a world of constant connectivity, we expect our technology to “just work,” whether we’re sitting in our office or at the gate of an airport. And the growth of mobile has meant that government employees can now work from nearly anywhere at any time, making productivity easier than ever. The problem: Security does not always correlate with productivity.

So how do we find the sweet spot where security meets functionality? Last year EMC commissioned Vanson Bourne to do a study on the Global IT Trust Curve that assessed 3,200 global respondents equally split between Business (1,600) and IT (1,600) leaders, including public sector. The results suggest that “Low decision maker confidence in IT can be related to lack of Trust Maturity,…and that 55% of respondents believe their senior executives are confident that they have adequate data protection, security, and availability…” to meet the current mission needs.

At EMC we view Trust as a co-equal balance of enterprise data protection capabilities: Integrated Backup and Recovery, Information Security/Cyber and Continuous Availability (comprehensive disaster recovery/continuity of operations capabilities).

My colleague, Vic Bhagat, recently wrote about this topic on EMC’s Reflections blog, where he notes that organizations can still be productive without compromising employee security or privacy. Where is your organization on the Trust maturity curve? If you don’t know, or would like to learn more, I invite you to check it out and learn more about how EMC is helping customers navigate this issue in today’s changing landscape.

Capitalizing on Hybrid Clouds

David Goulden

David Goulden

Chief Executive Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure at EMC Corporation
Chief Executive Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure at EMC Corporation

If CIOs and their IT organizations want to maintain their business relevance – and be in a position to expand their business contribution – they must leverage mobile and social, as well as new technologies and services for business innovation. They need to complete the shift to a services-based provisioning and consumption model. It’s also critical that they enable business to put Big Data and analytics to work, all while maintaining security and business continuity in an extended-platform world.

All these roads lead to Hybrid Cloud.

Hybrid_cloud-290x300

Hybrid clouds incorporate the advantages of both public and private clouds.  They are more than just a bridge between the two.  They offer access to a wide array of applications and services like public clouds, with the reliable performance and security for critical business applications of private clouds.

The hybrid cloud model enables IT organizations to choose where they host their workloads. It also increases business agility – the flexibility to use a variety of services, the scalability to keep pace with business volume, the efficiency to keep costs to a minimum, and the ability to protect data and other technology assets.

Want an even more rigorous definition? Hybrid cloud is an integrated, automated, scalable and secure platform for provisioning and consuming business applications, datasets and other technology services that originate either inside or outside an enterprise.

We’ve put a lot of effort into implementations based on these criteria because it’s the capability companies need today. No contemporary corporation should settle for less.

Heightened Security with Hybrid Cloud

One of the immediate opportunities for hybrid cloud relates back to security. An added dimension to security today is real-time analysis of what’s happening across all of an enterprise’s networks. Traditional perimeter defenses are being redefined and supplemented to protect against the growing onslaught of cyber-intrusions.

You can’t build a hard shell around the enterprise when your employees and customers can be anywhere anytime. On top of that, no one can prevent all intrusions, so it is increasingly vital to detect attacks and reduce their “dwell time.”

Data analytics help spot anomalies quickly, isolate problems, and take action. This is like the non-stop, high-volume fraud detection applications used by credit card companies. It requires assembling, scanning and analyzing vast quantities of granular and diverse data. Hybrid clouds provide a scalable, efficient and manageable platform for these new “data lakes” needed for security analysis.

In addition, securing sensitive business assets in the public cloud has become a serious pain point for companies. You have to negotiate how to map and recreate your security apparatus to fit into an external service level agreement. It’s laborious and results have not inspired confidence so far from what I hear. Companies lose data and transactions in public cloud failures. These public cloud security issues have limited the business flexibility that cloud is meant to deliver.  This is not the case with hybrid clouds.

CIOs know that their most important role isn’t provisioning and running the computing environment, essential as those activities are. It’s to encourage and enable their business to use technology strategically. This includes both implementing business strategy and formulating it in the first place. Hybrid cloud should be part of the business discussion today and the business capability tomorrow with the CIO leading the charge.

This post is adapted from What CIOs Need to Know to Capitalize on Hybrid Cloud.

This post was originally published on our sister blog Reflections, where senior leaders at EMC blog regularly on trends in information technology.

3 Keys to Securing Health Data

Audie Hittle

Audie Hittle

DoD and VA healthcare providers are responsible for managing and protecting some of the most sensitive data, which unfortunately makes them a valuable target for hackers. Patient information often includes addresses, birth dates, social security numbers, and credit card information – in other words, an identify thief’s idea of heaven. And this personally identifiable information (PII) is becoming more and more vulnerable. The sobering reality is that healthcare data breaches are on the rise, with recent research showing a 138% increase since 2012. It’s an issue that extends beyond the commercial sector, as our nation’s Federal health organizations face the same challenges in securing the PII data of our nation’s servicemen and women.

Data protection can be an enormous IT challenge, and regulations like HIPAA and HITECH help ensure best practices. To comply with the standards and ultimately protect sensitive health data, Federal and military health agencies require the latest data protection tools, particularly as more and more systems move to the public cloud. Below are three key areas that organizations should be thinking about as they embark on health data strategies:

1. Encryption: Critical to any healthcare IT environment, safe harbor laws require an organization to prove that its devices were encrypted at the time of a data breach. And it doesn’t just apply to devices. Smart agencies will make sure that information is protected from the data center all the way to mobile phones. In addition, they’ll ensure that they are using the correct encryption approach to address a specific requirement, rather than a generalized solution

2. Disaster Recovery: Organizations should also prepare for outages – whether caused by a natural disaster or human error – to avoid government fines and penalties. To comply with HIPAA and HITECH regulations, organizations must be able to fully recover from an outage within a matter of hours, not days. Virtualizing IT environments is a great way to enable continuous availability because it allows for easy mobility from one physical system to another. EMC’s VPLEX, for example, is a continuous availability and data mobility platform that enables mission-critical applications to remain up and running during a variety of planned and unplanned downtime scenarios, even in the event of a data center site failure

3. Backup: Lastly, consider a disk-based, centralized backup system for better control of your data and a greater chance of meeting regulatory requirements. HIPAA and HITECH require entities to store backup copies of data offsite, which can be challenging for many. And with the digital universe expected to grow by 40% between 2012 and 2020, military health organizations must be able to back up all of this data within a reasonable timeframe. One proactive tool is EMC’s Isilon Data Lake, enabling agencies to better manage, protect, and analyze large pools of unstructured data

For a strong HIPAA and HITECH compliant health IT security strategy, these three key areas will lay the foundation. While these standards may pose unique challenges for different organizations, the core of this is simple – protect the sensitive data of our servicemen and women and their families. For more information, check out our recent whitepaper on the topic.

EMC Named Top Workplace in D.C.

Karen DelPrete

Karen DelPrete

Congratulations to the Washington, D.C.-based EMC team – The Washington Post recently named EMC the #8 Top Workplace for large companies in the D.C. area.  As Sarah Halzack recently stated in The Washington Post, “Washington area employers are striving to build the kind of workplace culture that makes top-notch employees want to stick around for the long haul.”

For this inaugural report, The Washington Post invited 1,672 companies to participate and surveyed employees at 244 of those companies to capture employees’ thoughts on where the world of work is headed in the next few years.

EMC was among the 150 companies receiving the highest marks from their employees, ranking as the #8 Top Workplace in the large company category.

In my experience working at EMC over the past several years, I’ve seen our team’s commitment to supporting government missions – their energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to finding new ways to do things better.  I’ve also seen how well EMC supports each of us – with excellent benefits, training, and growth opportunities.  I’m very proud of EMC’s community commitment – supporting the USO-Metro and giving us each an opportunity to get involved and make a difference, serving our veterans.

Dan Dougherty, head of EMC’s Federal Division, accepted the award on behalf of EMC at the June 19th awards ceremony.  The inaugural special report was printed in the newspaper’s June 22 business section.

As an employee that regularly works in the D.C. region, I think I speak for the rest of the EMC employees in the area in saying that we are proud to receive this award, and look forward to continuing to serve those in the Washington, D.C. region.

EMC Top Place to Work