EMC’s New Datacentre – While Larry “Eats his dog food”, we would like to think we are “Sipping our own Champagne”?

By Clive Gold, Marketing CTO, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

When I joined EMC we were a ‘mainframe’ customer through and through, how times have changed! EMC just opened its shiny new, state of the art, datacentre in Durham, North Carolina USA. Two major changes to the past strategy; firstly it outside the Massachusetts area and secondly it’s designed from the ground up to be a cloud data centre.

This US scale facility, at just half a million square foot includes both a major processing centre for EMC, as well as it houses a global research and development centre, we call a “Center of Excellence.”  Two driving rationale behind the move, the high energy cost and to improve the disaster recovery/business continuity position of having all datacentres in the same state.

Some interesting pieces to this move; to maximise the return over the next 20 years, EMC has made flexibility – the ability to adapt to new technologies with minimal disruption a priority. As a result energy efficiency, modularity and low-impact construction were the priorities in the design. Some interesting stuff on the energy efficiency side;

–          The facility is broken into three 150 000 square foot modules, all with separate power  and cooling/air-handling units.

–         Cold aisle containment is provided for the rack rows of high load density, (12k/rack) – and hot aisle/cold aisle rack row arrangements are used to increase cooling control and efficiency.

–         As well as leveraging lots of innovative stuff; including rooftop water collection system, free air-cooling for most of the year and UPS flywheel technology to eliminate batteries!

From a ‘cloud’ point of view all applications run on VMware vSphere, beginning with about 350 applications and 6 PBytes of data being moved into this datacentre over the next six months.  The hardware, you guessed it, Vblock!  In  fact it took less than a week to stand up the infrastructure for the new SAP ERP(v6) application! An infrastructure which sizes up to be 625GHz of processing, 4.6TB of RAM and 246TB’s of storage (25% of the production capacity), all on a Cisco Nexus infrastructure.  (I believe that EMC is currently moving off the Oracle system onto SAP.) As a comparison they worked out it would have taken just over 3 months to build the same infrastructure in the old datacentre, but with Vblock, the overhead cabling design and power and cooling setup.. the result was staggering.

So some may think it’s not too radical a change over the last five years or so; taking the EMC IT organisation from a ‘mainframe’ mindset to a ‘cloud’ one. But what that all means, I guess could be debated for some time to come!


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