EMCWorld 2016: Future of Data Center Services with SUPERNAP

Many customers I have been meeting with recently are looking to get their IT out of the data center business. Data Centers are viewed as expensive and difficult to maintain for many businesses. Many are leveraging the public cloud providers as a means to accomplish the goal of zero data center but are concerned about losing the advantages of having IT infrastructure architecture control. One of the best things about attending EMC World is the opportunity to connect with other leaders in the IT industry. As part of the EMC Elect community I had the opportunity to visit the Switch SUPERNAP data centers in Las Vegas.

Our visit included data center facility tours and presentation of the SUPERNAP capabilities. SUPERNAP's Missy Young, started the presentation with a review of SUPERNAP's history. In 2000, Rob Roy founded Switch in Las Vegas to offer advanced managed technology services for startups and large enterprise customers. In 2002 Rob was able to acquire a Nevada based former Enron facility with the largest fiber optic capability in the country which would offer customers unprecedented network capacity, performance, and redundancy. In 2006, Rob created the SUPERNAP data center business and ecosystem. SUPERNAP provides companies with the data center space to house the compute, and storage combined with the Switch network capacity, performance, and redundancy. Today SUPERNAP is operating data center services in northern and southern Nevada as well as internationally. In addition to providing customers with the world's only Gold Tier IV co-location data center facility and operations certified data center services, SUPERNAP is leveraging over 200 Rob Roy patented inventions to improve the cost effectiveness and environmental sustainability of data center services. The SUPERNAP data centers do not use traditional raised floor, or power designs. For data center cooling they are leveraging their patented SUPERNAP T-SCIF (Thermal Separate Compartment in Facility) system that is designed to keep 100% of the equipment heat separate from the data center air. The heat from each rack is captured, moved to the ceiling compartments using natural air pressure, and then vented outside while cool air is continually added to the building. This Switch T-SCIF heat containment cabinet platform not only cools the data center efficiently it also allows SUPERNAP customers to fully utilize their rack space without worrying about equipment cooling limitations. SUPERNAP can provide over 40 kW power capacity to each rack which is 30-50% more than many of the top enterprise data centers I have seen. This can result in big savings for customers paying for data center services by the rack. 


When you arrive at the SUPERNAP facilities you are immediately impressed with the size and scale of the space. Once inside the exterior wall surrounding each of the buildings you continue to experience their commitment to the physical security as armed guards meet you at the entrance and escort you throughout the facility. The tour of facility helped create perspective on the size of their install base. Each building is divided into four modular sections built out as the space is sold. During the tour we were able to see the unique power distribution, cooling, and roofing design that supports the Gold Tier IV classification.

The other big advantage SUPERNAP offers their customers is aggregating network bandwidth purchasing power through their Core Cooperative. Customers running at SUPERNAP data centers can typically reduce their network costs by 30-60% and improve their redundancy by participating in the Core Cooperative. Due to tax agreements customers often have much lower taxes on data center services and equipment.

SUPERNAP is expanding their service to the eastern region of the United States with their announced plans to build a data center campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan (https://www.supernap.com/news/switch-confirms-plans-for-massive-michigan-data-center.html). This will provide a data center service alternative for east coast companies with similar benefits to those using the Nevada based services.

Data center hosting and co-location services have been offered for many years by many regional and national providers. Typically customers have used these services as an alternative to investing in their own data centers but usually at a higher cost. With the networking and the proprietary data center design technology that SUPERNAP uses their customers realize the benefits of world class data center services at a fraction of their current data center cost while maintaining IT system architectural and operational control. Based on the growth of the SUPERNAP capacity in both Nevada and in Michigan I think many more businesses will be considering this option for hosting their IT infrastructure in the future.

EMC World 2016

Emcworld2016EMC World 2016 is upon us again and final preparations are underway. The theme of this year's conference is Modernize and reflects the major challenge for enterprise IT. Modernize, Automate, and Transform their operations to enables business transformation to compete in the digital economy. EMC World starts officially on Monday May 2.

This year the EMC CTO team has been heavily involved in the content planning for EMC World. This year we have eight great breakout session's focused on modern management & operations, storage architectures, IOT, and cloud native application infrastructure solutions:


In addition to the breakout sessions our global CTO, John Roese will be hosting a round table meeting on Tuesday (5/3) with 25 CIO/CTO's to discuss EMC's technology vision.


On Wednesday (5/4) John will be hosting a meet-up with the EMC Elect, CTO Ambassadors, and Cisco Champions.


John is hosting an interesting Guru Session on Wednesday (5/4) at 3pm with famous strategy consultant and author, Geoffrey Moore. Geoffrey is the best-selling author of Crossing the Chasm and Escape Velocity. John and Geoffrey will be discussing the enterprise IT challenges transforming to compete in the digital economy.


This year all the daily keynote sessions will be webcast from the emc.com website. I am looking forward to all the great content and recapping the highlights with blog posts all next week.

Cloud Is Not A Place

ITImparativesEnterprise IT organizations are being challenged to transform to enable their business to
compete in the digital economy. IT is being challenged to reduce the cost of operating their traditional application portfolio, enable new mobile, web, social, and analytics applications, while not compromising their data security and compliance requirements. These competing imperatives are forcing enterprise IT to embrace modern cloud infrastructure to help meet these needs. The challenge many are struggling with is finding a public cloud service that can meet all their MultiCloudneeds: traditional client-server application, along with development of new applications with much more agile, flexible, and less expensive infrastructure. In addition, many are expanding their use of software as a service (SAAS) for not only CRM, and payroll services but for HR, collaboration, and office productivity. The question is how do you find one cloud provider to meet all these workload needs? I believe this is the wrong question. Cloud is not a place but an operating model. Enterprise IT will need to manage a portfolio of cloud services optimized for multiple groups of applications with diverse workload requirements.

At a high level, determining the IT Cloud Services needed for your application workloads is 2x2cloudbased on two dimensions:

  • Application architecture: traditional client-server, modern mobile, web, and social
  • Application locality: can it run off-premises or must it run on-premises

This creates four categories of cloud services. The lower left quadrant is optimized to service traditional client server application like SAP/R3, and Oracle ERP applications. The lower right CloudExamplesquadrant is a new type of off-premises cloud service provider that provides application expertise in addition to the price advantages of public cloud. EMC Virtustream, and Oracle cloud are examples of these cloud service providers. The upper left cloud services are optimized for modern mobile, web, social application architectures that you want to run on-premises. The upper right quadrant is general-purpose public cloud providers and software as service providers. Each of these cloud types is architected to minimize the cost to run the target workloads while providing just the services the application needs. For example, a Oracle database application requires a highly resilient storage infrastructure. If your table space storage suddenly becomes unavailable it is going be a really bad day. For a Hadoop based application if a data node suddenly becomes unavailable existing and new requests are re-routed to other copies of the data with minimal user impact. You need to make sure your application workloads are mapped to the appropriate cloud service.

There has never been a single IT infrastructure architecture to service all application workloads. The best IT organizations are able to offer a portfolio of infrastructure services with differentiated services, flexibility, performance, and costs characteristics. I have described a model that has enabled many of my customers to start thinking about their cloud service needs. As this model of cloud portfolio services is created new IT services and organization roles and skills are created. In future blog posts I will discuss the new cloud inter-working services, organizational roles and skill sets needed.

EMC CTO Ambassadors

When I joined the EMC Office of the CTO in 2014 after many years as a field engineer and an EMC customer many people were interested in our opinion on the future of IT technology. As an EMC field engineer I worked with many customers designing technology solutions that would need to support their core business for the next 10 years with currently available products. We often discussed how the solution could be designed to accommodate new technologies that we knew were on the near term horizon. The challenge was:

  • How do we know the new technologies we should be considering?
  • What was the informed opinion on when the new technologies would be commercially viable?

When I joined the EMC CTO office we had no formal process for sharing our knowledge, and points of view with our field engineers, let alone our customers. Doing a bit of research I found this was not unique to the enterprise IT product industry. As I thought about this problem and the value our customers would receive I proposed we create a team of technologists that we would share the EMC Office of the CTO research project results, and our educated points of view on the future of IT technology. To my delight I found the support of one of EMC's leading technologists, Steve Todd. He encouraged me to present a plan to EMC's CTO, John Roese. With John's support I began recruiting CTO Ambassador's that would learn about our research learnings, and John's points of view on IT trends. Working with Steve we created the first messages for the CTO Ambassador's and we launched the program by the end of 2014 leveraging the EMC Executive Briefing program to engage with our customers.

We quickly realized there was tons of great feedback and idea's shared during these CTO Ambassador vision meetings so we quickly added a CTO Ambassador to each meeting to create meeting feedback reports. On a quarterly basis the team reviewed the meeting feedback reports and we discovered trends that we used as input to future messages, and projects. The meeting feedback has been invaluable to improving our focus on the topic's most important to our customers and the industry.

Recently I was able to capture EMC Global CTO, John Roese's feedback on the CTO Ambassador program.


In addition to scaling the number of CTO Ambassador's to 90+ volunteer participants globally in 2015 we wanted to provide a single publicly accessible portal to share more details about our research projects, and points of view. We recently launched our Innovation @EMC portal, newsletter, and CTOAmbassador Twitter handle. I will be talking about this soon.

I am excited that the EMC CTO Ambassador program has been successful in exposing the most important work being led by the CTO Office through our local technologists across the globe. The CTO Ambassadors have hosted over 200 customer meetings since it started. In the beginning it was challenging to convince some of our leading EMC technology thought leaders the value of supporting the program and working with us to share their work and point of view but with the great customer feedback and idea's we have collected for them it is getting easier. For the EMC employee's that have volunteered their time many are seen as EMC, and industry thought leaders. Many are now recognized as principle engineers and have been nominated by their peers and received EMC R&R rewards. If you are coming to an the EMC Executive Briefing be sure to ask to meet with our CTO Ambassadors to learn more about EMC's technology vision. We would love to hear your feedback.

2016 Thought Leadership

We have many people in our industry that provide thought leadership. I have been fortunate to work with several colleagues at EMC that are excellent at thought leadership including Joe Tucci, and Chad Sakac, and several others in different specialties.

I believe the people best at inspiring thought leadership force you to think and engage in the dialogue about a topic. Through this dialogue the point of view becomes sharper. I like the simple thought leadership definition Joel Kurtzman introduced in 1994:

"Thought leadership is about furthering a discussion that leads to action."

I strive to demonstrate thought leadership and find fulfillment when I am engaged in this process with groups of really smart and collaborative people. In addition to my role at EMC I find participating in local user groups which are easy to find through services like Meetup is a CClogogreat way to engage in Elect2016dialogue and sharpen your point of view. Participation takes commitment --commitment to attend meetings, and participate in dialogues. Showing up to meetings is not enough for you or the group to get the maximum benefit. This past week I was selected as a 2016 Cisco Champion and EMC Elect program. This is my second consecutive year being selected by these communities to be a member. I am very much honored to be nominated and selected for these groups. I have found these groups to generate a lot of thought leadership on difficult challenges like cloud security, IoT, software defined infrastructure, and continually updating your knowledge and skills. I am looking forward to participating in these communities to drive thought leadership in this time of great change in IT.

I have also found that it is important not only participate but you need to server as a leader, handling the operational overhead needed for meetings, and governing the interaction of the group. This past year I lead several meeting Cisco Champion community weekly calls and was fortunate enough to be featured on the EMC Elect podcast with Mark Brown. In addition, I started and co-leading my local emerging technology user group and lead the EMC CTO Ambassadors program. The EMC CTO Ambassadors leadership is unique in the global participation of over 80 technologists and the maniacal focus we have at capturing meeting feedback. I will have more details on this program in a future post.

These communities that I participate and in some cases lead are great sounding boards to sharpen my point of view and are inspiration sources for thinking about important topics and points of view that other bring forward. During this time of such disruptive change in IT I think participating and leading technology communities is one of the best ways to learn new technologies, methodologies, and issues facing our industry. Get involved, get engaged in 2016.

EMC Cloud Foundry Dojo Opening

The Digital Economy is forcing companies to build or re-build their application development capability. Modern applications are developing applications using new technologies and methodologies. Two challenges have emerged:

  • New open source projects provide tools that need to be enhanced
  • Demand for resources experienced with the new technologies and methodologies is greater than the current supply

The Cloud Foundry community has proposed creating places of learning called dojo’s. The dojo’s will focus on developing new Cloud Foundry features, retiring bugs, and qualifying new Cloud Foundry project contributors in weeks rather than the typical months. You can read more on the Cloud Foundry dojo program here.

Today, EMC announced the opening of the first Foundation Member sponsored dojo here. I recently had the opportunity to record EMC Global CTO, John Roese and EMC President of Cloud Platform Team, Brian Gallagher talking about the new dojo and their expectations.


State of the Industrial Internet - Part II

In my last post from Web Summit I discussed the advances in technology that is enabling the Industrial Internet and the financial benefits. The Industrial Internet will provide quality of life benefits for society as well. The Industrial Internet is enabling services to be delivered faster, and with less waste and pollution. The Industrial Internet is capable of impacting our lives in multiple dimensions including financial and environmental.

One of the concerns is will the Industrial Internet displace people. Dr. Salvo believes that the Industrial Internet will enable the expansion of opportunity for people. The Industrial Internet will allow devices to replace and eliminate many of the tasks done by humans today, but it will create new opportunities that were not possible previously. For example when was the last time you didn’t use a digital mapping application to decide how to get to a new address? Even for familiar addresses many people use an application like Waze to make sure they take the fastest route when considering current traffic, and construction detours. The more users and vehicles using the system the better the service which reduces travel time, and wasted fuel.

We then discussed the differences in how the Industrial Internet is being developed compared to previous major technology developments such as cloud. The Industrial Internet is integrated across so many industries and IICIndustryMemberstechnologies it will not be developed by one company but by a combination of private, public, and universities working together. These groups need to be able to openly collaborate together in a transparent manner which has led to the formation of several consortium's. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is one example. It was founded a little of one year ago and has grown to over 200 public, private, and universities in 28 countries.  

TBComponentsEMC’s Said Tabet highlighted one of the most successful projects sponsored by the IIC is the test bed program. EMC has teamed with Vodafone, and the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) to sponsor one of these in Ireland. The test bed is a set of infrastructure services (cloud if you like) that is open to developers to prototype Industrial Internet services. The test bed provides a developer with a set of easily accessible building block components needed to get started with a prototype. More information in the Infinite Test Bed service including getting access is available here.

The Industrial Internet is here and the benefits are accelerating beyond just financial but to society as well through reduced pollution, and speed of service delivery. The Industry Internet is enabling new opportunities that we are now just starting to imagine. The Industrial Internet opportunity is so big and evolving so quickly it is requiring more collaboration between private, public, and universities. It has never been easier to participate through consortium's such as the IIC. How are you engaging in the development of the Industrial Internet?

State of the Industrial Internet - Part 1

This week I had the opportunity to host a panel on the state of the Industrial Internet at Web Summit. My two panelists were Said Tabet from EMC and Joe Salvo from GE. They are both heavily involved in the development of the IoT industry through their work on standards bodies, industry consortiums, and their roles at EMC and GE respectively. I will document the key points of our discussion in the next two posts.

The Internet of Things (IoT) was one of the top subjects at Web Summit this year. The commercial application of IoT in particular it will bring massive cost reductions from many small efficiency improvements in jet engine, and power generation efficiency improvements that will add up to trillions of dollars of cost reduction and quality of life improvements.

We started out the discussion with Dr. Salvo explaining the difference between IoT and the Industrial Internet. Essentially IoT originated from RFID and is primarily the network connection of single purpose sensors. The Industrial Internet is focused on the connection of intelligent devices where there is local intelligence on the device. The connectivity allows the individual device to leverage the intelligence of the rest of the devices to be smarter. For example an aircraft engine is now capturing data, analyzing it, and making near real time adjustments to maximize its performance. When the engine is connected to the Industrial Internet it is able to take advantage of entire community of engines to improve it’s efficiency and proactively plan adjustments based on things like weather condition data available via the Industrial Internet. 

Several recent technology advances are enabling the exploding growth of the Industrial Internet. The easy availability of ubiquitous compute through cloud computing. This has fueled the explosion in the collection, and processing of data across the globe and the rapid expansion in new software development. New analytics technologies (i.e. Spark, Splunk!) have emerged that are optimized to analyze streams of data in near real time as well as analyze massive stores of data to make better predictive decisions. Finally the cost reduction in sensors for a few pennies has allowed a massive number to be deployed with each device. For example, each GE Wind Turbine deployed today has several thousand sensors embedded. The more sensors deployed mean more data, and the more intelligent the device. The more intelligent the device the more efficient it will operate, enabling many small operating cost savings that will add up to millions of dollars a year.

The Industrial Internet has arrived. The cost savings, and quality of life benefits are being realized today. Consumers are being conditioned to expect functionality that can only be delivered by making devices smarter and more self aware to optimize themselves and able to participate in the Industrial Internet to contribute and leverage the collective knowledge of the larger community. In my next post I will review the societal impacts of the Industrial Internet.

Innovation Challenges

Innovation challenges at big companies was the topic of today’s CxO roundtable discussion at Web Summit. As we are transitioning rapidly to the Digital Economy, Innovation has never been more important and big companies are investing heavily.

Our group had senior leadership from startups through some of the largest companies in the world. We discussed some of the challenges Innovation leaders at big companies are struggling with today. We discussed four challenges and brainstormed solutions.

The first challenge we tackled was the natural defenses companies have in place to protect the status quo. Larger companies have often gotten large by being extremely efficient at producing and delivering their products and services. Innovation most often does not occur in a linear manner, which can trigger the protection defenses of efficient production and delivery. The most common solution was to separate the innovation resources from their production responsibilities. This was seen as the best way to protect the continued production and delivery. We did agree that production resources be able to transition in and out of innovation projects since they would bring unique experience to an innovation project team.

The second challenge we discussed is determining how to prioritize your Innovation investment. We settled on the analogy of a mutual fund manager managing a portfolio of stocks, and bonds based on the defined risk of the fund. A company’s innovation investment needs to be managed similarly. This assumes your company understands its risk tolerance and is honest with its expected return and success rate. As with financial investments high-risk projects most likely have a higher payback but lower success rates. The opposite is true as well, lower risk projects typically have lower payback and higher success rates. It is critical to understand the risk-reward of your innovation portfolio to set expectations with the business leaders that invest in your portfolio. Establishing a trusted relationship with your Innovation investors is critical to long term success and continued investment.

The third challenge we discussed is managing innovation projects. Innovation projects tend not to progress like other business projects. We used this taxonomy for our discussion.


GoldengooseFor projects in leveraging existing technology and familiar customer markets quadrant those projects should be expected to progress predictably. For projects in the quadrants further out to the right those projects will need to be managed differently and they will not likely progress as predictably. These far out to the right projects tends to be the most challenging for a business to support. Having an appropriate mix of projects across all four quadrants is critical to the long-term success of the business. It is critical the business understand your Innovation project portfolio and specifically those golden egg projects that will need support from outside your traditional business lines.

The forth challenge discussed was inspiring innovation ideation in a large company. You do we encourage the hundreds and thousands of our employee’s to bring forth new idea’s. We agreed there were three key components that need to exist:

  • Time and resources to explore and develop idea’s
  • Belief the best idea’s would be incubated and developed into projects
  • Reward & Recognition

Many organizations say they encourage employee’s to dedicate time and provide resources to develop ideas. Many companies reference the Google 20% of time for innovation policy but it was clear from our discussion the culture of the company was more critical and management plays a key role in encouraging this investment. Rewarding employees not just for the successes but the failed attempts that often lead to the future successes.

These are not the only innovation challenges leaders at big companies are dealing with today but these are critical for successful innovation: incubation, managing expectations, efficient management of a spectrum of projects, and engaging all the companies employee’s to fill the ideation funnel are critical.  

EMC @Web Summit?!

I think we can all agree are living in the Digital Economy era. GE's latest set of commercials "What's the matter with Owen?", is a great example of a company, GE that is successfully transitioning to a digital business. This year one of my goals was to have our CTO team lead our participation in new types of industry events with digital agendas. Events like Mobile World Congress, CloudFoundry Summit, and coming up Web Summit are all new events we are participating in for the first time this year. Bloomberg has called Web Summit "the Davos for Geeks". It has 21 themed summits occurring simultaneously and will have 30,000 attendee's.

This year both EMC's Information Infrastructure and Pivotal businesses are participating in Web Summit. This year we will be hosting a developer hackathon that we have organized more like a meet-up. I am partnering with EMC {code} and Docker. Our event will be held on November 4 from 1-5pm at the Web Summit event location. During the event we will be working with the Docker container management, networking, and storage integration—to support modern DevOps practices. You'll walk away knowing the basics of Docker Swarm, Compose, Networking and about EMC {code}'s REX-Ray project, delivering data persistence to containers. In addition to presentation of the material by EMC's Kendrick Coleman, Clint Kitson, and Docker's Tom Barlow we will have hands on labs to sharpen your skills and allow you to experiment. Space is limited. Registration is open here.

In addition I will be speaking on the Machine Summit stage with my colleague Said Tabet, and GE's Joe Salvo about their experience with IoT implementations. We are in the very early days of IoT deployments. The use cases and technology are immature and evolving quickly. We will be discussing the use cases that are successful, and the current state of the technology needed for successful IoT deployments. Our presentation will be held on November 4th at 10:35am on the Machine Summit stage.

I will be participating in the Enterprise-X Summit leading a discussion on the challenges of Innovation in large companies. New Pivotal CEO, Rob Mee will be presenting at the Enterprise-X Summit as well.

This conference agenda is great way to learn how companies are succeeding in the new digital economy. It gives EMC a great opportunity to collaborate with the industry and understand the challenges, and opportunities the new digital economy. Let me know if you are attending Web Summit.