Safety First

Karen DelPrete

Karen DelPrete

Director, Federal Marketing

You probably wouldn’t leave your house without locking the doors. Or ride a motorcycle without a helmet. And you most certainly wouldn’t leave your agency’s data unprotected. What do these scenarios have in common? They are all protective measures people take every day to prevent disastrous situations.

More specifically, protective measures can help Feds avoid a data disaster as a result of downtime or a data loss event.

Organizations are built on data, yet protective measures are frequently overlooked or overtaken by other priorities. Well, it may be time to view data protection in a new light – according to the 2014 Data Protection Global Index, 64% of organizations experienced at least one instance of unplanned downtime or data loss in the past year. Public sector organizations are hit the hardest of all. The study found that compared to any other industry, the public sector experiences more downtime – 37 hours as compared to 25 hours – and the longest recovery time – 12.43 hours as compared to 7.95 hours. These numbers give us an important message – it’s time for data protection to rise to the top of organizations’ IT priority lists and become part of their overall cyber security measures.

Cyber attacks might be inevitable, but with the right solutions in place, agencies can avoid disaster. Agencies must be resilient and utilize innovative solutions that enable automation and orchestration. Not only do automated environments reduce the time and cost invested in protective measures, but they also reduce error rates, such as the unintentional release of sensitive data.

So, what does a resilient organization look like? They stay ahead of the game by implementing advanced security, continuous availability, and integrated backup and recovery. To get started on the journey to optimal data protection, agencies should consider the following steps: Create a resiliency plan, update existing architecture, embrace hybrid automation and orchestration, modernize service level agreements, map to governance and compliance requirements, and implement data protection-as-a-service. For a deep dive into these steps and guidance on how to secure your agency on the road to mission resiliency, check out our eBook on the topic.

Keeping data safe isn’t impossible. Agencies just need to make a plan – today.

Learn more about the importance of data protection through our eBook, and a recent article on the subject.

FedRAMP Gives VMware Technologies a Thumbs Up

Karen DelPrete

Karen DelPrete

Director, Federal Marketing

In case you missed it, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) has approved VMware’s vCloud Government Service provided by Carpathia, enabling civilian and defense agencies to leverage vSphere technology with the Infrastructure-as-a-Service hybrid cloud.

This is a significant development in helping agencies reduce costs, expand IT resources and services, and improve service levels for users. FedRAMP ensures secure cloud computing for the Federal government, and the announcement means that VMware has achieved the Provisional Authority to Operate (ATO).

By using the vCloud service, organizations can move workloads seamlessly between their internal resources and the cloud, augment existing IT infrastructure capacity, and enhance continuity of operations and disaster recovery. What does this mean for your agency? Learn more by checking out VMware’s blog post on the announcement: http://vmw.re/1uEw4Mk

Looking at Storage Through a Different Lens

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Core Technologies

As I settle into my new role as head of EMC Core Technologies, I am frequently asked to summarize the business opportunity we have and how our portfolio hangs together, specifically from the high-end enterprise perspective. This has me thinking about the current state and direction of the storage industry.

Bear with me through a story which, if I am lucky, will shed some light on how our portfolio best meets the needs of our customers. Safe harbor statement: I have simplified the story for effect so technologies such as Isilon and VNX are not specifically referenced, but this is supposed to be a blog, not a mini-series.

Back in 1996, I relocated to the US from the UK, landing in Santa Cruz, California. My new home blew me away with the diversity of people, scenery, climates, etc… total sensory overload.

Before the move, I had never really taken photography seriously, sporting a Kodak Instamatics camera with rather cool flash units (sorry XtremIO, not that type of flash), which resulted in a bunch of slides and rather poor situational snaps. When I arrived in the US, I upped my game by adopting a very early Nikon Coolpix – the one with the swiveling lens.

Almost a Whale Tail

How many times have you looked back at a great photo that captures the moment when you were actually in situ? Imagine how exciting the early months in California were as I captured all these new experiences on film. The euphoria ended abruptly after a whale-watching trip on a choppy Monterey Bay. When developing the snaps from this adventure, I was presented with an ‘almost tail.’ Not exactly the memory I was looking for.

It was time to step up my game again and get serious. As luck would have it, a friend of mine was a budding photographer who explained that photographers fall into one of two camps: Nikon or Canon. And if you want to take this stuff really seriously, you need an SLR camera (or single-lens reflex for the uninitiated). In addition, apparently the real money is not spent on the ‘body’, but on the ‘glass’ aka the lens.

Wise words indeed and I plunged forward into the world of Canon, purchased a ‘semi pro’ EOS SLR camera and a plethora of lenses: telephoto, macro, fisheye, fixed for low-light interior, multiplier rings and more goodies than I knew what they did. In fact, I even had to buy a custom backpack to carry all my treasures around.

The quality of my photos increased exponentially, but my wife wasn’t pleased with me trawling around the San Francisco Zoo with a 300mm lens attached to a monopod. I think she used numerous and varied expletives sprinkled in for good measure.

Tiger at San Diego Zoo

Over the course of the next few years, I upgraded the camera body three times, from film to digital and ultimately to Mega Pixel. I started thinking I could even become a professional photographer, much to my wife’s chagrin (a story for another day).

My EOS collection continued to grow; I now had two bodies, one main and one spare. I actually upgraded to a 5DMkII with full-frame which tipped into the professional category. Taking a holiday in Alaska put the many lenses to great use.Alaska

But then, work started to absorb the vast majority of my waking hours and I found it tough to carry the camera with me on business trips. I started searching for a solution that was just as good, but a lot more agile.

Enter the mirrorless camera. You can change the lenses; it has a high Mpx rate and a small enough form factor to fit in a messenger bag. Bingo, a purchase was made from the Sony NEX series. That little beauty travelled with me everywhere… granted it’s not quite as crisp on mono color pictures and it did not initially have the range or breadth of the EOS setup. But in the majority of cases, the benefits of its size, agility and cool factor far outweighed those disadvantages. This is an example of a technology that revolutionized the whole idea of cameras, but it has not quite reached its potential yet.

Flash forward to an article I read recently that claimed the second most popular camera make on Flickr was the iPhone. This got me thinking about my own camera usage and was the impetus for this blog.

Had I started to use my iPhone camera as my default camera without realizing it?

Well, yes.

I still use the Canon EOS when we take a big holiday or go somewhere where I know I don’t want to compromise on quality.

And the mirrorless camera has become my stock camera for all other trips.

BUT the vast majority of my snaps are now taken every day on my iPhone.

iPhone quality, frankly speaking, is better than you expect, but pretty shabby if you want a poster or wall art. That’s not the point. Turns out the benefits of the iPhone always being in your possession, linked to GPS which allows you to search via location, and ease of integration with apps and sharing, make it the preferred device for everyday snaps.

Guy Churchward

So you see there are three camera types driving my love of photography – each of which has its own use case:

  • A camera where everything is possible (Canon EOS) – a safari, a whale-watching cruise, a trip to the pyramids, etc. No compromise is the driving factor.
  • A camera that’s easy-to-use, tailor-made, and all about high-performance (mirrorless Sony NEX) – for the holiday in Mexico, a family trip back to the UK, a customer advisory board meeting or perhaps EMC World 2015. Here performance and agility are the driving factors.
  • A camera to catch the quick moments (iPhone) – the dog lying upside down, a daft road sign or a work associate falling asleep during a meeting. Here convenience is the driving factor.

So to the real point of this blog – making sense of the many movements in the primary storage market. Thinking about when and how I use various cameras offered a way see how our customers think about choosing the right storage solution for their adventure.

The Canon EOS is like EMC’s VMAX. No compromises, with the lenses being the data services. Interestingly, both EMC and Canon realize that the value of these products IS the combination of lens and camera back, but each is valuable separately. They are not indelibly joined. The new VMAX architecture separates the data services from the back-end storage with technologies such as Federated Tiered Storage (FTS) and ViPR, but you can take full advantage of these features with alternate storage.

The mirrorless camera is beyond cool. It’s not your Dad’s camera and it speaks volumes to edgy innovation… this is XtremIO. It is lightning fast, super agile and does pretty much anything the Canon can. The possibilities are limitless.

By the way, Canon realized the value of mirrorless technology and actually built a body where you can use your current EOS lenses. In a way this is like a VMAX hybrid array with flash inside. You have data services and the performance of flash, but you still have the bulk of the array. A very good compromise indeed, but it’s not an all-flash array (AFA).

Canon also made an adapter to allow you to snap your EOS lenses onto an OEM mirrorless camera back. This is like putting XtremIO behind a VMAX with FTS. You have the AFA value and you can embrace the data services of a VMAX, so a great ROI but with some of the bulk of a professional camera albeit a lot less than with the standard camera back.

And then there’s the iPhone camera. This hyper-converged camera, while ubiquitous, is clearly not a replacement for the Canon EOS. It’s not a ‘from the ground up’ camera, but its hyper-convergence is clearly an important feature. The point is hyper-converged is a compute block with networking and storage in it for the ride just as the iPhone is a phone, PDA, media player and camera all in one form factor.

We are in the middle of a whirlwind of innovation in the data center. Storage is ever growing and so are the choices. In my mind, there is no clear winner or loser. What is clear is VMAX has redefined itself to be very relevant in an enterprise-grade distributed data service kind of way. It’s XtremIO’s time with unprecedented growth and the emergence of the all-in-one converged infrastructure. And hyper-converged infrastructure is coming of age with VCE.

What this reflection tells me is that we should all assume these three models, white box and cloud are going to be part of our complicated lives for a good number of years to come. The key is to know which “camera” you need for the adventure you’re taking.

I hope my analogy resonated for you and I’m interested in hearing your views.

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

Third Platform’s the Charm

Keith Wiley

Keith Wiley

Senior Director and General Manager, Global Solutions

“The Third Platform” – Big Data, cloud computing, mobile, and social – is having a tremendous positive impact on government and citizens alike. Analyzing trends in real time, and capturing all data sources where they originate is game changing.

This past fall at the EMC Federal Summit, Federal leaders gathered to discuss how to “Redefine Federal IT.” In my morning keynote, I looked at how to utilize the third platform in the rapidly changing IT environment. Here are some takeaways:

According to the recent IDC Digital Universe study, the digital universe is enormous – and growing exponentially. Data is growing faster than our ability to manage it, and agencies need to redefine their approach – but how?

The first step in redefining IT is determining what users want. It’s really quite straightforward – they want simplicity. They want instant gratification. But, how do we get there? It’s all about how the data in the digital universe is orchestrated and automated, and solutions like enterprise hybrid cloud can help. By leveraging a hybrid cloud, agencies can maximize their data – with the speed and agility of public cloud services and the control and security of private cloud infrastructure.

And, it’s important to keep in mind the power of software-defined solutions in innovating Federal IT. Take a look at a MeriTalk study, “Innovation Inspiration: Can Software Save IT?,” that found that more than 70% of money spent on Federal IT is dedicated to maintaining legacy systems. Additionally, over 50% of Feds believe a transition to software-defined models will not only save money, but will also enhance IT performance. Software-defined technologies redefine IT, enabling the automation and simplification of IT management, and increasing the agility and flexibility of infrastructure. Costs go down, and room for growth goes up. The software-defined enterprise will enable agencies to enhance support and innovate like never before.

As more agencies turn to the third platform for the support to handle Federal missions, they gain the ability to obtain real time insights, improvise, and quickly adapt to changes. To learn more, register here to view the keynote.

Deep Dive Into the Data Lake

Audie Hittle

Audie Hittle

Federal CTO, Emerging Technologies Division, EMC Corporation

The IT landscape is constantly changing – that’s a given. But, what doesn’t change is the responsibility for Federal agencies to protect their highly sensitive data – from healthcare records, to tax information, to geospatial intelligence. As data in the digital universe continues to grow, providing sufficient storage for large sets of data can be daunting without the right storage management systems. The solution? Data Lakes.

I will speak at this year’s Cloudera Federal Forum on Wednesday, February 25, to discuss the impact of this data growth on Feds. Many other Federal IT thought leaders and decision makers will also attend and contribute to the discussion about how Big Data platforms and applications are changing Federal outcomes.

We’ll take a deep dive tour into the strategies your agency can use to leverage innovative collaboration environments – specifically the Data Lake. This type of environment allows agencies to store, manage, and protect unstructured data for traditional and emerging workloads. As an example, EMC just announced new products and solutions to support the Data Lake Foundation – including the new high-density Isilon HD400 platform and the new highly-resilient OneFS 7.2 operating system. Not only do these technologies aim to eliminate silos and simplify the storage and management of data, but they also bring many other benefits to agencies, such as:

  • Efficient storage
  • Massive scalability
  • Increased operational flexibility
  • Enterprise attributes
  • In-place Big Data analytics

Data Lake technologies expand the possibilities of what your agency can do with its data and the insights which can be achieved – managing not only structured, but also unstructured information, in a faster, more cost-effective way. In my session, I will share case studies and examples of successful implementations, from data warehousing to knowledge management.

The increasing flow of data presents the need for a closer look at cloud computing best practices as well. As we delve deeper into the data deluge, agencies might find it challenging to continue the successful management of their data, especially when their technology is unable to support large data volumes. Fortunately, today there are options available to handle these evolving requirements. Hybrid clouds combine the best of private and public clouds, and provide organizations with the opportunity to transform operations and deliver IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS). As agencies work to balance cost and performance, they turn to innovative solutions, and hybrid cloud technology provides just that.

It’s not too late to register for the February 25 Cloudera Federal Forum, and learn how to advance your agency’s data analytics initiatives and save time, money, and resources. I hope to see you at my 10:50 a.m. session to hear more about implementing an enterprise data hub.

To learn more about the announcement of EMC’s new Data Lake products and solutions, check out an EMC Pulse blog post from my colleague, Sam Grocott, here.