EMC is a large company focused on high performance storage for enterprises. It's offerings are closely aligned with the idea of extending infrastructure from virtualization to private cloud infrastructure. The company wants to help IT data provisioning services are as easy as Amazon and as secure as Fort Knox.

To get a handle of where enterprise data storage meets the web, we looked for inspiration from architects of the web and Internet, including web pioneer Sir Tim Berner-Lee and Vint Cerf. We take a look at EMC as positioned as the closet, physically, to the core assets of the enterprise.

In this report, we also spoke with Edward Newman, Global Practice Director, Private Cloud Services of EMC Consulting to find out what is really happening in the enterprise sales and delivery engines.

We mashed his thoughts up with some big-thinkers in the core of computing to get perspective on the company's future as a map to enterprise information assets.

Where Does Data Live?

EMC's byline is "Where Information Lives", and by being a leading provider of storage solutions, this claim is literal indeed.

Here, we see that data does have a home.

In this case, in an enclosure, in a data center. This YouTube video shares a 2009 demonstration of EMC's Symmetrix V-Max. This unit, built in partnership with Intel, can be configured with up to two petabytes of storage and one terrabyte of cache.

Based on our interview Newman from the company and its focus on creating and extending private clouds, we think the EMC is recognizing the vast power of extending the enterprise out and providing services that compete with with the ease and speed of Amazon Web Services, but also provide enterprise class controls and performance.

Where Does Data Dance?

Tim Berners Lee sheds some light in this interview about the future of the web and its data.

Question: "Is your vision of the Semantic Web one in which data is freely available, or are there access rights attached to it?"

Answer: "A lot of information is already public, so one of the simple things to do in building the new Web of data is to start with that information. And recently, I've been working with both the U.K. government and the U.S. government in trying not only to get more information on the Web, but also to make it linked data. But it's also very important that systems are aware of the social aspects of data. And it's not just access control, because an authorized user can still use the right data for the wrong purpose. So we need to focus on what are the purposes for accessing different kinds of data, and for that we've been looking at accountable systems.

Accountable systems are aware of the appropriate use of data, and they allow you to make sure that certain kinds of information that you are comfortable sharing with people in a social context, for example, are not able to be accessed and considered by people looking to hire you. For example, I have a GPS trail that I took on vacation. Certainly, I want to give it to my friends and my family, but I don't necessarily wish to license people I don't know who are curious about me and my work and let them see where I've been. Companies may want to do the same thing. They might say, "We're going to give you access to certain product information because you're part of our supply chain and you can use it to fine-tune your manufacturing schedule to meet our demand. However, we do not license you to use it to give to our competition to modify their pricing."

This vision is where there is opportunity, accountable means controls. Shared, means cloud. Perhaps a new term in the making: Accountable clouds.

Does Your Cloud Compile?

Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist posted to the Google Research blog, Cloud Computing and the Internet that further expands on vocabulary management and cloud computing. We see a definition of cloud computing emerging here that ties it to data portability and capability, a defining moment in the definition of semantic web.

"Interestingly, my colleague, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has been pursuing ideas that may inform the so-called "inter-cloud" problem. His idea of data linking may prove to be a part of the vocabulary needed to interconnect computing clouds. The semantics of data and of the actions one can take on the data, and the vocabulary in which these actions are expressed appear to me to constitute the beginning of an inter-cloud computing language. This seems to me to be an extremely open field in which creative minds everywhere can be free to contribute ideas and to experiment with new concepts. It is a new layer in the Internet architecture and, like the many layers that have been invented before, it is an open opportunity to add functionality to an increasingly global network."

All of the sudden, the semantic web seems required to realize the vision of the cloud. And, the great thing about it is that the cloud layer being a first example of the semantic web shows us we can start it in information technology's own backyard.

EMC's Opportunity

The enterprise of the future needs to share nicely, store petabytes at-will, and be available on demand.

Also, to the degree that organizations run sensitive or personalized enterprise software, the platforms it runs on and interacts with will need to demonstrate the controls and permissions similar to those today inside the enterprise. This will be a key factor in whether the enterprise systems can gracefully consume cloud computing - or what they can adopt it for.

This is the space open for EMC to provide hardware solutions coupled with software to manage the resources of the cloud, including storage, computing, and network.

This is also the area of much focus - from monitoring to provisioning. And a winner is not going to be determined overnight.

A roundup of open questions for the company and the enterprise information industry:

  • VMware and Not - Can EMC win soley with ties to VMware, if open source hypervisors take significant market share, can and will the company be well positioned in these architectures?
  • Oracle with Sun - Will Oracle's move into hardware, cloud, and storage have an impact on the companies positioning?
  • S3 Servers in the Enterprise - We may have made this up. It seems clear that S3 and other Amazon Web Services will become the core fabric for IT adopting the cloud. It only makes sense to do the same with abstracting storage in the enterprise. We believe in the power of the cloud to creep in, and we want to see how big storage providers react to this new logical competitor. A key here for EMC and the rest of the IT industry is that Amazon sells storage with no consulting involved, or waiting period. At EMC, global services was responsible for 37% of EMC's total revenue in 2009 and is a important part of servicing customers. We wonder, should EMC offer an "S3" for the enterprise that plugs into Ionix and other EMC offerings?
  • Open Protocols Inside, APIs Outside? - We asked recently in a discussion with Hitachi Data Systems whether open protocols instead of APIs would be the driver for this industry interoperability. Amazon, is clearly an API, where things more in the core of storage tier are protocols, worked on in tandem by many and influenced by those who matter.
  • Helping IT Respond to Now - In a way, EMC and cloud computing meet in the IT budgeting process. We think that providing "always available" and "highly available" will meet, "low latency" and "DR" in a real way in future Amazon vs. internal discussions. What we mean, is that Amazon providing "scale as you go" is perfect disruption for the IT department. Iinfrastructure scales, IT budgets don't. This can be a big headache for IT trying to predict the future and is an opportunity for EMC to provide a better solution for enterprise capacity management. Yes, that means paying with a credit card - at least sometimes.
  • Intel / Cisco as partners - New types of network management and cloud services are evolving in the chipset and network layer. We see the companies maturity in how it has global partnerships with these companies to help the the channel and drive solutions. At the same time, this centuries IT industry is more of a mosh-pit than a sing-a-long, and it seems like it is going to get very cozy in the future in the area of network and cloud management.

If EMC plays it's cards right, enterprises will choose its tools to "control the shape" of the data and systems in the data center. And, if it evolves quickly enough, the same IT manages will have solutions that keep all of the companies assets, including public cloud offerings, under one umbrella.

Is your enterprise moving your data out into the cloud?

Or is the cloud moving into your company's data?

Photo credit: paul_clarke