Monthly Archives: December 2011

Unified Analytics – A major step ahead with Greenplum

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

EMC Geenplum just released a new version of code, (here), which as a minor release does seem to me to be a major step to the promise of the Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform, and hence the future of big data analytics: Some thoughts on the features:

–          Higher database performance and In-database analytics:
For years to come there will be an appetite for performance, to enable the operationalizing of ‘big data’ analysis. Finding ways to process more data in less time by boosting the base database or ‘embedding’ code into the Greenplum database, will continue. (In-database analytics is a bit like stored procedures in relational terms).  The interesting part here is that these extensions are available to Greenplum customers, via a free download, from a library of useful routines. Which means that the data-scientist can concentrate on using these tools, rather than creating them!

–          High-performance gNet for Hadoop:
High speed computing is all about removing bottlenecks, in general a system with 100% CPU utilisation is the goal. (As soon as the CPU is idle, execution time extend as there is a bottleneck somewhere else.)  In a big-data analytics system, the movement of data is key to performance, and the heart of Greenplum is gNet. gNet pumps data around to keep the processing nodes fed. By extending Hadoop to use gNet as well, creates an environment where a query can be fired off at both of these technologies!
How cool would it be if there was a layer above this that could decide on the best analytics system to process a given query, and then move it to the right place? (Pure speculation, as I have no visibility into the roadmap.)

–          Migration from other databases to Greenplum Database:
How obvious is this idea; converting data from one format to another is a highly parallel task. So here the system uses MapReduce to quickly exchange data between Hadoop and Greenplum. (Personally I’d like this for video rendering!)  So how about as Intel gives us more cores and more can be done on the fly, the concept of ETL could become an ‘in-line’ component of using ‘data’, that happens to be in the wrong format, making all data sources available from all tools.

–          Language and compatibility enhancements:
In the relational database world SQL is the language, however there is no equivalent in the analytics world! So as a transition strategy there is a need to bring the skills from the old world to the new, hence extending compatibility is vital to speeding this up.

–          Efficient backup and recovery:
Without specifically commenting on these features, this is an indication of moving these technologies from more of a ‘science experiment’ into mainstream enterprise computing. I would argue that this is a major value EMC brings to the organisations it acquires. After all the world has relied on EMC for many years to look after its most critical data!

So although this was a ‘point release’ it seems to me the Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform, has taken a huge leap ahead of the market in brining big data analytics into the mainstream of enterprise computing.

Amazon Reboot, the reason you have to know whats inside your cloud provider.

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

An article caught my eye, (here), Amazon is notifying its ImageEC2 users that the servers are going to be re-booted to apply some patches. The gloss is coming off the ‘cloud hype’ and it’s a good thing! Why, because this illustrates why you need to care which technologies your cloud provider is building their services on.

This is the second time Amazon has hit the headlines due to ‘standard’ technology issues. The interesting issue is why do events that we are so used to in our environments make headlines. The ‘slowdowns’ and outages earlier indicated to us that the ‘cloud’ ideal of everything, always up was not realistic.  Now we realise, that no matter what the perception is, there are real physical servers, storage, networks and operating systems in there and they require operating like any other technology. Certainly it’s built differently and operated differently, to minimise the ‘traditional’ IT limitations, but it’s still hardware technology and hardware is not commoditised, no matter what you hear from software vendors.

That is why it is important for you to understand which technologies the service has been built on. I know that goes against the ‘cloud’ ideal, but until the market grows and matures, and competition sorts out the good from the not so good services, you have to go the work. There is no need to evaluate to the extent you would if you were building your own, but I would suggest it is foolish to just abdicate completely.

Remember, that when something goes wrong, you cannot go to the business and say, “My provider let us down!”, after all you might purchase a service, but you can’t outsource responsibility! You know I’m not biased, but I would have more confidence if the service has a little sticker saying ‘EMC inside’, like my laptop has saying ‘Intel inside’.

EMC Storage is Smashing the Competition

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

EMC’s Storage is simply thrashing the competition. It’s been a great week for

From 'The Register'

EMC storage, in particular VNX, and me! I’ve said it before, I know that people listen to what I say, but then look for validation. Why, because I have ‘Marketing’ in my job title and we technical people are all cynics! So when there are a flood of customer testimonials and industry validation for what I’ve been saying, I can have a little “I told you so” moment, (in my head only, so as not to be rude! ) A win announcement hit my inbox, a major mining house selected EMC to replace all other major vendors, to complete their consolidation project. Their reasons for selecting EMC were:

  • EMC was the only vendor with a credible platform to meet all their service level requirements across all their applications and datasets. (The power of VMAX!)
  • The quality of the EMC people. (Which is interesting as they had product from all the other major vendors and EMC was the only new vendor they dealt with!)
  • Transparent pricing structures: (Some people still perceive EMC as ‘expensive storage’, which was the case more than 10 years ago, but has not been since then.)
  • Excellent references: (As they say the proof is in the pudding, and EMC’s reputation for product quality and customer service are way ahead of the industry, we just simply care!)

Then IDC announced the storage market share numbers for Q3; EMC continues to hold more than twice the market share than the next vendor, (the Register article (here) and thanks for the graph). This is not a ‘chest beating’ exercise, but a thank you for your confidence in EMC. Market share is your vote, after all its how you vote with your $’s that counts and holding the size of EMC’s market lead shows that we are delivering better innovation, quality and customer service.

And its not just in ANZ, this morning an international case study hit my inbox, (here). Carglass, (German version of O’Briens), who selected VNX for some compelling reasons over Netapp:

  • Increased Performance and Efficiency—Carglass has achieved 5X faster performance with EMC VNX and FAST Cache under high workload conditions, such as quarterly financial reporting.
  • Reduced Footprint—With VNX, Carglass has reduced power consumption in its data center by 50%.
  • Simplified Management—With the unsurpassed simplicity of the VNX, Carglass’ IT managers can now set up a hardware test environment in just 2 hours, 36X faster than before, and spend less time on maintenance and configuration.

So customers have spoken loud and clear and therefore I have to say to a leading analyst in Australia, who I’ve known for over 20 years, and he always says to me… “It’s not that I don’t believe you Clive, but when a customer tells me something, I can trust it”. Well I guess now you can advise your clients that EMC and the VNX is truly a generation ahead of the market!
(I did tell you that, didn’t I!)

If you can’t spell GRC, its time to learn, fast.

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

If you are in IT, then GRC is going to be vital to you. As my job involves a lot of presenting and so I’ve become a PowerPoint wiz! I’m not boasting; it’s just to do

Forrester Wave IT GRC Q4 2011

my job, I have to use PowerPoint almost every day! Your GRC tool will become the same for you!

That probably sounds like a big statement given most of you are not familiar with the concept of an IT Governance, Risk and Compliance framework, never mind why it’s growing in importance.

The transformation in IT is moving into a phase where the manual and repetitive tasks previously performed by people are being automated. This movement is compelling because this level of automation can be implemented at a lower level, at a finer grain and in a continuous way, changing the very nature of what can be achieved.

Let’s take IT Infrastructure security as a prime example of an area of growing concern for risk management. The monitoring of infrastructure logs, alerts and events, for all but the simplest of environments, is past human capability to monitor and comprehend. SIEM, (Security Information and Event Management), is a field that has seen a great deal of innovation over the last few years. Starting as a way to record and keep events and security information, in a consistent way, it quickly developed into a way to correlate this data. Then, as the experienced security professional will tell you, security is about pattern recognition, so the systems grew in intelligence to automatically detect these patterns.

This is good, but is it sufficient? I would argue that in isolation SIEM will lose its effectiveness! Why? Well here is an example; EMC RSA’s product enVision, (here), consolidates and correlates security-management information. This allows you to detect when a privileged user, provides a higher level of access to another user. The question is, “Should they have done that?” To answer this question, we need to consider the security implications as well as the organisation’s policies. Today, most users of enVision have a security person who makes this decision, but as IT scales up, can this person continue to be effective? My answer is no, so we need a the next layer in the stack, that combines corporate policy with security best practices in order to make this decision and escalate when there is a risk or a breach in the organisations policy. That layer is called EMC|RSA Archer, the GRC framework which enables this combination of policy, procedural requirements and best practices with operational data.

What prompted me to was that EMC|RSA Archer was recently classed by Forrester as one of the leading technologies in this space, (here). Worth a quick read to start learning about your future!

When does ‘commercial interests’ supersede ‘innovation’?

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

The ongoing patent battle between Apple and Samsung raises questions about when commercial interests supersede innovation. I firmly believe that ‘copying’ is wrong so the concept of IP protection is necessary. What I question if using someone’s idea to create a new idea is wrong, or is this the basis of progress? Have we lost the ability to stand on each other’s shoulders?

EMC really became a force to be reckoned with, when it created the storage industry. The storage array used technologies created by other organisations, like the Winchester disk drives, CPU’s, RAM, etc. EMC used ideas out of University research, such as RAID, and then added value to all of this with a great deal of innovation. New caching algorithms built into a new concept of a storage operating system, which ran on a unique hardware architecture and design!  EMC became the giant of the storage industry by standing on the shoulders of other giants. The alternative is to ask for everything to be invented from first principals… a kind of innovation dementia, which is ludicrous!

I saw a documentary. “Good Copy Bad Copy”, the other day about a musician called ‘Girl Talk’ a mash-up and sampling specialist. Part of this discussion was how ludicrous the cost would be if he adhered strictly to the royalty/copyright requirements of all the songs that he samples to produce one of his tracks. On the one hand he is using ‘sounds’ created by others, but on the other hand the final product bears no resemblance to any of the original songs. (Contrast to a re-mix, where the original song is predominant throughout the song.)

Applying this to IT, let’s consider a product called EMC RecoverPoint. This is a continuous data replication technology, which is a unique idea. You could argue that it combines the idea of replication with journaling. Why? Simple replication is good to protect against failure as you have another copy, however it’s lousy for protecting against corruption. (You land up with two perfectly bad copies.) Hence the idea of point in time copies, which means that if you have a corruption you have a known good point to go back to, however its bad as you lose good data from the time of the last PIT copy and the corruption. RecoverPoint now gives you the best of both worlds!

Is this an IP infringement, obviously not this is building on the past to create a new and unique capability! Isn’t that how we got here?

Friday Fun: Did I mention Qantas and Big Data before?

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

Well for those of you who are not twitter savvy, or haven’t been following the story of the Qantas twitter competition. Here are the basics, Qantas decided to run a competition on twitter with the tag #QantasLuxury to win a pair of PJ’s and a toothbrush. (Already a hint of disaster looming.) Well as you would expect, with all the incidents and news around this organisation, the twitter community went to town. Now being reported all over the place as a massive PR failure, if you are interested in how creative annoyed people can get, zdnet, igo2groop, reuters.

We can have a good laugh at all the creative people out there and I’m sure who ever thought up this campaign probably didn’t realise that creativity can be negative. In-fact may even be easier to be creative when poking fun at something. This whole thing reminded me of the Monty Python scene, “The Black Knight”, (here from The Holy Grail), where no matter how battered Qantas has been, they still out there asking for more!

My mother always said, “look before you leap”! If you have time, do a twitter search for Qantas and a negative adjective, and you will immediately see that the brand currently has a great deal of negativity associated with.  So who would have thought that it was a good time to launch a campaign, which given a few searches, was obviously asking for trouble. Not only this but it had no relevance to addressing the current the sentiment. Infact one tweet I saw really summed up how ill-thought through the whole thing was. The tweet was about using the prize next time Qantas leave them stranded!

My point is why does an organisation like this not have the means to instantly measure their brand sentiment?  Here is a prime and public example where Big Data could have gone a long way in helping this PR person structure a campaign that addressed a real issue and build their brand as well as not landing up being tagged as the “worst PR failure in Australia!”

Now before you or I throw stones, can your organisation do this? Does your organisation monitor twitter for complaints, questions, frustration.. and address them?