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.

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.

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.

What Has Been Going On?

It has been a while since my last blog post. The last few months were really busy and I never stopped thinking about blogging and have a lot of idea's to share over the next few weeks. Since my last post I have had a great family summer vacation on Cape Cod. The air temperatures were warm (95 F) and the ocean water temperatures were cold (58 F). In addition I had the opportunity to do a lot of mountain hiking in the Adirondacks of upstate NY. In between I walked away from totaling my car after hydro planning across the Massachusetts turnpike. After not injuring myself in that accident I did manage to hurt my ankle and am now just working it back to full strength. I have been told by friends that it has not impacted my running speed, ball striking, or jumping ability. Professionally I have been working a number of interesting projects.

VMworld 2015

This year at VMworld we again expanded the EMC OCTO program. The highlights for me were the customer lunch and EMC Elect meet-up hosted by EMC Global CTO, John Roese. We changed the format to a panel discussion with John and three of our subject matter experts on storage integration with VMware, Converged Infrastructure, and our data valuation research project. We expanded size of the room and hosted 35 customers and had a great discussion. The EMC Elect meet-up was a great success as well. EMC Elect leader Mark Brown recorded the session as a podcast and made it available here. In addition to the planned topics we had a great discussion that has led to the development of cloud taxonomy and application workload placement. More is coming on that topic on this blog and other EMC communication channels shortly.

Innovation @EMC

As part of the EMC CTO Ambassador program we have collecting customer feedback about innovation and perceptions of EMC. We learned two important things:

  • Industry is not aware of our innovation investments
  • Industry is not aware of the great innovators working at EMC

We decided we needed a public facing communication channel focused on sharing EMC's Innovation activities. We soft launched our Innovation @EMC a few weeks ago and have seen a great deal of traffic although we have not promoted the site yet. This site will heavily leverage video recordings rather than text. Feedback through our EMC CTO Ambassador led meetings is people prefer short video recordings. The content can be more descriptive combining visuals as well as audio from subject matter experts. It is also easier consumed through different devices. I am excited to see the impact we can have with this new site and would love to hear your feedback. I am continuing to expand the EMC CTO Ambassador. The program is growing the number of meetings we are hosting globally and as a result the feedback data we are collecting and analyzing.

Web Summit 2015

I am excited to announce EMC is participating in this year's Web Summit. I will be presenting at the Enterprise-X Summit and Machine Summit stage with my EMC colleague, Said Tabet and GE's Joe Salvo. In addition I am hosting a really cool hackathon with my colleague Clint Kitson and Docker. The registration just went live here. I will be publishing much more on my blog this week about this event.

As you can see I have a bunch of really cool things to talk about on my blog in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more posts on these projects, and more in the coming days.

Big Data Maturation

This past week I attended CiscoLive! 2015, as EMC’s Big Data “expert”. It was validated during this conference that every business, in every industry is collecting data from new sources, and leveraging next generation analytics to improve their customer’s experience, deliver new products and services, and deliver those much more efficiently. Improving technology is enabling the accelerating use of Big Data solutions. We are able to deploy and embedded more cost effective data collection sensors in even the most traditional commodity devices such as light bulbs. Cisco demonstrated the availability of impressive higher capacity, more reliable wireless networks this week. I previously discussed the new EMC storage technology that enable the ingestion and analysis of data much faster and cost effectively here.

Although the technology needed for Big Data is getting better it needs to get significantly easier to use and deploy to keep pace with businesses demands. Two main industry challenges were very evident this week:

  • Analytics’ tools are difficult to use
  • Data fabrics are hard to implement

The lack of resources that could build the data models and algorithms to make the data available actionable was referenced in many of the conversations I had with both product teams and users. Many are focused on increasing the training and education capacity needed to develop analysts to be able to use the new analytics tools available today. I think we need to also greatly improve the tools to be easier to use.  Compare the complexity of the tools analysts are using for Big Data projects to traditional query languages like SQL, and analytics tools such as:

Big Data analysts need to be experienced with programming languages such as Java, Python, and R. Data access is a polyglot combination of often disparate low level API’s and formats requiring transformation of the data before it can be processed. Some of the complexity of the new tools is a result of needing new capabilities that will mature and simplify over time. Next generation analytics tools such as Splunk and Tableau are promising but I think we need to be less accepting of the poor usability of many Big Data analytics tools.  Analysts and Data Scientists need to be able to focus more on designing data models and algorithms, and less on building unique solutions requiring a lot of application programming.


The second challenge for the industry is to greatly simplify the Big Data infrastructure deployment. Today it can take several months for an organization to install and configure the IT infrastructure, data fabric, and analytics tools. Look above at all the Big Data tools and products that have to deployed to create a Big Data Lake. Today there is still not a consensus IT infrastructure model. For example, some fundamental attributes are still being debated including:

  • Storage - external array vs. commodity direct attached server storage
  • Compute – bare metal vs. hypervisor 

I think a standard architecture will emerge soon. It will follow the same path as other new technology paradigms of the past such server virtualization. In the mid 2000’s timeframe it was challenging, and time consuming to deploy VMware virtualization due to some of the same challenges. Eventually the industry decided on a common architecture that all the storage, server, and network optimized around. As that happened adaption accelerated rapidly.

At the data fabric layer Hadoop has become widely accepted and it is based on an Apache open source standard there are multiple commercial distributions (Hortonworks, Cloudera, MapR, PivotalHD) it is not easy to deploy the same workload across all of these distributions. Foundations such as the Open Data Platform (ODP) have been formed by the industry to facilitate collaboration to address this issue. The growth in the number of participants in the ODP initiative demonstrates the industry recognizes this problem.

The early results to date using Big Data to improve customer experience, create new products and services, and delivering them more efficiently has been promising. Our ability for us to address the complexity of the tools and infrastructure will determine how fast the benefits of Big Data solutions will be realized. 

The New IT - We either disrupt ourselves, or we will get disrupted.

This week I attended CiscoLive! 2015. John Chambers delivered the opening keynote and he asserted that businesses either disrupt themselves, or their competitors will disrupt them. He sited examples of companies like Uber  that have disrupted mature industries and obsoleted successful businesses. Not only has a company like Uber disrupted their industry but they also have grown the market by 5x more rides. By improving the customer experience many more people are leveraging car services rather than driving themselves. John sited several examples of transformations that were happening at Cisco including his succession as CEO by Chuck Robbins.

The “disrupt or be disrupted” theme continued throughout his presentation and the entire conference. John cited a recent survey that found 87% of CEO’s believe it is imperative they become a digital based business, but only 7% actually have a digital plan today. John believes that only 30% of digital transitions will be successful. This is obviously a great opportunity for IT to lead the development and execution of your company’s digital transition.

I believe leading a company’s digital transformation will require a new type of IT. Certainly IT will need to be much more knowledgeable about their business and market. For example, how many of today’s IT organization know?

  • What products and services will customers pay us to deliver?
  • What are our costs to deliver those products and services?
  • What do we need to build? What should we buy to deliver our products and services?

I think this is one of the reasons so many of today’s successful CIO’s such as Cisco’s Rebecca Jacoby, and Intel’s Diane Bryant are running major parts of their companies business. I believe many of our future IT leadership will come from lines of business. Many IT leaders will grow their careers with by taking on line of business responsibilities.

NewitstackCertainly new technology will also be required. New applications will be consumed via
mobile devices, and we will be leveraging and collecting data from new sources to improve customer experience and outcomes. New software development languages and frameworks such as: Node.js and Rails will allows these applications to be developed faster. Application deployment will be highly automated further accelerating the delivery of services to our customers. Today, there are about 15,000 new applications created weekly. The pace of change enabled by digitization is accelerating and the disruption by a competitor will be swift. 

IT organizations in digital businesses will not be measured only by the reliability, and cost efficiency of their services to the business but will need to create, and drive the implementation of new digitally delivered business processes, product, and services. This is very exciting time for an IT professionals. Digitization will create new job opportunities, and roles that will have a direct impact on the success of your company.

CiscoLive! – It’s About Business Outcomes

Next week I will be attending one of the IT industry's largest conferences, CiscoLive! As a major partner of Cisco, EMC will have a major presence with a number of our subject matter experts in attendance. I am particularly excited about this year's event. In addition to all the changes happening in the industry, Cisco will be transitioning to a new leadership team led by Chuck Robbins. This conference has traditionally been technology heavy and a premier training and education event for IT practioner's. I'm sure this year will also have a ton of new technology announcements specifically around networking, and converged

I do think this year we will see more emphasis in the announcements on business outcomes. Every business needs to be digitally enabled to compete going forward. According to the American Enterprise Institute, 89% of the Fortune 500 companies from 1955 do not exist today. No business wants to be the next Kodak, or Blockbuster and become irrelevant in the new digital economy. EMC released a study at EMCWorld a few weeks back that identified the five imperatives most mentioned by business leaders. They are:

  • Predictively spot new opportunities
  • Deliver Personal Experiences
  • Innovate in an Agile Way
  • Operate in Real-Time
  • Demonstrate Transparency and Trust

BusinessImpWe then asked these business leaders for their relative importance (green thumbs) and two of these imperatives rose to the top. First, spotting new opportunities and doing that predictively requires new analytic's capabilities. The second is innovating in agile ways across the entire business, which requires IT to be developing new software written and deployed continuously. When we asked the same business leaders about their IT's state of readiness (red thumbs) you can see many did not feel their IT organizations were ready to meet these challenges. These requirements are coming from the business, but IT needs to lead these initiatives. The measurement of success for IT has changed from improving an organizations efficiency to leading the success of these new business imperatives.

To be successful IT will certainly rely on new technologies. Successful companies such as General Electric and Amazon are focused on building mobile, Big Data, and social applications. These applications rely on new development paradigms such as Agile, and new application development platforms like Rails, Node.JS with application platforms such as CloudFoundry. These applications will be run on cloud infrastructures. Over 90% of all net new applications developed since the beginning of 2014 were built for cloud delivery. Clearly many IT organizations will need new skillsets and knowledge of these new technologies.

CiscoLive! is one of the major industry conferences where new technologies are introduced and IT practioner's can meet with subject matter experts. This is a great opportunity for practioner's to update their skills and prepare for new roles that IT will need. I expect to see more new technologies delivered in as a service and appliances form factors this year. IT needs to be able to quickly lead the development of new products and services to meet these new business imperatives.

To hear more about the future of IT organizations please plan to attend Rebecca Jacoby's keynote session on Wednesday where she will be talking with a panel of IT leaders including EMC Global CTO, John Roese about the future IT organization. To watch via webcast more information is available here. In addition to the keynote, John will be meeting with the EMCElect, and CiscoChampions at the EMC booth on Wednesday afternoon at 3pm. More information on the meet up is available on EMC community network here along with a complete list of EMC activities at CsicoLive! here.

MongoDB World Review

MongodbworldThis week I attended MongoDB’s annual user conference, MongoDB World. Many of the attendees were developers focused on mobile, web, and analytics application development. During the first day key note Docker CEO Ben Golub said “The most interesting people are doing the most interesting things with Open Source technology”. For many of the developers I work with today, open source tools like MongoDB are fundamental to their strategy.

Since MongoDB just announced version 3.0 just four months ago and the acquisition of WiredTiger less than a year ago I was interested in the community feedback. I found a good number of users had deployed MongoDB 3.0 or had at least been testing it. Feedback was very positive with many seeing significant performance improvements based on the WiredTiger over MongoDB’s default MMapv1 engine. The management of MongoDB is also much easier with the new OpsManager.

During the breakout sessions and discussion in the solutions expo I met many customers from some very large companies planning to migrate more database workloads to MongoDB. Typically MongoDB has been used successfully for a year or two primarily for new applications.  As legacy mission critical applications are being updated, many developers I talked to are planning to use MongoDB as the database platform for both structured data that previously was stored in Oracle. Many of the new applications would be combining both structured and unstructured data (i.e. documents, video, …) content. Many of these developers were looking for enterprise grade storage and data protection infrastructure solutions in preparation for scaling their MongoDB environments.

During the second day keynote MongoDB founder, and CTO, Eliot Horowitz introduced planned features for the 3.2 release coming later this year. Eliot commented that the WiredTiger acquisition accelerated the product roadmap significantly. The most interesting 3.2 features to me were:

  • Data-at-rest-encryption: this function is coming from the WiredTiger acquisition. It will be configured as a separate storage engine, which will provide flexibility. It will be interesting to see the resource requirements on the server and whether it will be more efficient to have the function performed by an external storage array for larger deployments
  • Document Validation: MongoDB will validate the documents match the intended schema at the time they are written.
  • Dynamic Lookups: sounded like SQL left outer joins but Eliot assured the audience it was much different…
  • BI connectors: this will make it easier for analysts to use the most popular analytics tools such as Tableau, Business Objects, and Cognos. Many open source analytics tools are available that interface with MongoDB but require analysts to learn new tools.

MongoDB continues to embrace it’s open source routes and now has over 9 million downloads. Based on all the changes in MongoDB management team and acquisition of WiredTiger over the past year it was impressive to see the passion of the developer community with more workloads being targeted for MongoDB

Extending Scale of Next Generation Databases using Flash Storage

Next generation applications are leveraging new database technologies such as Cassandra, GemfireXD, and MongoDB. These next generation database products use memory to greatly improve processing speed. Many next generation applications such as real time trading applications will work with relatively small data sets using these new database technologies. As more enterprise and mission critical workloads have started using these databases, new types of IT infrastructure architectures are emerging to support these workloads. Initially, direct attach server storage (DAS) was used to persistently store the data, and act as the cold repository for the fast server memory capacity. As more data has to be serviced from the DAS, performance of the database and application degraded rapidly. Server PCIe flash card technology was used to try and address the need for persistent storage and performance, but the storage capacity of these cards was limited and they are operationally expensive to deploy and maintain. At EMCWorld this year we I wrote about our Memory Centric Architecture prototype using MongoDB we demonstrated. The prototype demonstrated the ability to leverage flash storage as an extension of memory.

MongoDBXremIOThis week is MongoDB World. MongoDB is one the leading new memory centric database solutions and has been partnering with EMC on a number of projects to create optimized storage solutions that sustain performance at the linear scale modern mobile, web, and Big Data applications require. In addition to the Memory Centric Architecture project we recently released a joint validated architecture using our new all flash storage array, XtremIO to provide persistent data storage, and consistent high performance with sub-millisecond response times. Leveraging an enterprise storage array like EMC’s XtremIO enables applications using MongoDB to access much larger data sets up to the petabyte scale while maintaining the high level of performance expected. The EMC XtremIO scale-out architecture mirrors MongoDB’s node scale-out, and pluggable storage architecture allowing customers to start small with just a few nodes and scale capacity and performance linearly. The tested solution and results are available here.

XtremIOEffIn addition to the benefits of data scale with performance EMC’s customers expect our solutions to provide data services to improve cost efficiency, protection, and security. XtremIO provides theses services and this test solution validates them with MongoDB. In this test we saw a 22:1 reduction in data storage with MongoDB. This data reduction was achieved using XtremIO’s standard always on inline de-duplication, compression, and combined with our thin provisioning service. This results in a significant capital cost saving in addition to reducing data center space, and environmental (power cooling) operational costs compared to traditional direct attached server storage architectures.

We tested the XtremIO in memory snap shot functionality with MongoDB and documented the steps necessary to rapidly create clones of the MongoDB database for backup protection or to accelerate application testing. We also validated the XtremIO data encryption at rest functionality with MongoDB. For many customers and application use cases today encryption of data at rest is required and allows customers to meet their regulatory data governance requirements at no additional cost.

I am very excited to be attending MongoDB World this week and it is great to see the industry leveraging enterprise IT solutions for next generation database’s like MongoDB. I believe this will accelerate the adoption of these technologies for enterprise mission critical use cases. The validation of MongoDB ability to leverage the linear storage capacity, and performance scalability, data reduction, protection, and security provided by the leading all flash enterprise storage solution will allow our joint customers to deploy MongoDB based applications with confidence. There will be a great session reviewing this solution on Tuesday (6/2) afternoon. A complete summary of everything EMC will be doing at MongoDB World is available here.