In Cyber Space No One Can Hear You Scream

Rodger Burkley

Rodger Burkley

Principal Product Marketing Manager at EMC

No doubt you fans of sci-fi and “vintage feature films” out there instantly recognize this famous (and hauntingly memorable) movie tagline.  Hint:  For those of you who regard Hollywood movies and horror futuristic science fiction as being alien to your “core” interests or even remote curiosity…

Yes, “Alien” was a ground breaking, Cyber Space Screammemorable sci-fi horror flick directed by Ridley Scott.
First released in 1979, it was a trend setter for sure… and one that launched a whole bevy of Aliens.  It changed everything in terms of high action, high thrills (and scares) science fiction drama flicks.  Of course, I first saw it much later on VHS when I was old enough to watch it without having nightmares… (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…)

And — yes — in the vacuum of outer space sound doesn’t propagate or travel…so indeed no one can hear you scream. Turns out, no one can hear you scream in cyber space either… particularly where the Public Cloud is involved.

As good as the Public Cloud and various service providers are, the simple fact is that you lose control of your storage and compute resources once you get on the Cloud wagon.  More importantly, you lose control and access of your valuable data once you upload it onto some Public Cloud service provider’s infrastructure.

Need some ‘fact checking’ validation here?  Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the biggest Public Cloud service provider, followed by Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and a number of others.  It’s been a tough week for AWS customers.  They’ve had two service outages last week alone!  The dreaded ‘D word’ in IT….Downtime!  The silver lining?  Well, at least AWS customers’ monthly usage service fees will be lower this month… Continue reading

Breakfast with ECS: Containers and Community Innovation

Kamal Srinivasan

Kamal Srinivasan

Sr. Manager, Product Management at EMC

Breakfast with ECSWelcome to the inaugural edition of Breakfast with ECS, a series where we will look at issues related to cloud storage and ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage), EMC’s cloud-scale storage platform.

Recently, Linuxcon, Containercon, and MesosCon came to Seattle.  The events brought many experts (developers, admins, academics, and industry veterans) from the community to one place, and showcased the next generation of datacenter technology.  It was truly an amazing experience, and I left the events with two key themes bouncing around in my head – the momentum behind community innovation, and its impact on containers.

In her keynote at ContainerCon, Robin Chase of Zipcar brought out the idea of community innovation. The container space is a prime example of this model yielding good results. Given all the noise about containers recently, it’s hard to believe that Docker is a relatively young company. However, with over 1100 contributors to its repository, it is precisely the community innovation aspect that has helped make Docker and containers suitable for production workloads in such a short amount of time.

Contrary to dire predictions, the technology space is evolving towards an interesting coexistence of Open Source and product commercialization. Containers have benefited from this trend as well.  The engagement of a wide variety of contributors to containers, such as public cloud vendors, as well as vendors specializing in Open Source technologies, has really turbo-charged adoption.  This has helped bridge the gap in many use cases to provide a foundation for hybrid cloud, or helped application developers move seamlessly between cloud providers.  The conferences had a few enterprises demonstrate container use cases and challenges.  Notably, Verizon showcased a large scale Mesos cluster, which is the basis for its next generation datacenter.  There are a number of interesting projects ongoing to address improvement for containers in areas such as monitoring, networking, security, and persistence, which is welcome news for companies looking to take advantage of the technology.

EMC CodeThis may come as a surprise to some of our readers, but EMC has been an active contributor to the open source community with various efforts.  EMC Code was started with this vision and some of the contributions from EMC Code can be found on GitHub.  Additionally, EMC products are also contributing to and utilizing the container community.  Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS), EMC’s cloud-scale storage platform took an early bet on Docker Containers.  This proved to be a critical bet, as it provided us with the capability to provide layers of abstraction between the hardware and the operating system.  Today, ECS can run on most commodity hardware or Linux OS due to our reliance on container technology.  Consequently, ECS is one of the largest stateful applications running at scale with Docker containers in production.

You can check out how the Vatican Library leveraged ECS as a Global Content Repository to provide global access to over 30 million digitized pages of rare and historic manuscripts.

Containers allow ECS to be packaged with dependencies and not be impacted by the Host OS or lifecycle of the Host.  In turn, this helps our customers bring cloud scale economics to private cloud.   These cloud scale economics are crucial for all IT shops as they look to lower their overall cost of ownership and enable quicker time to market for their business partners.

Want to learn more about how ECS can help your organization? You can check out our homepage, or download ECS for free from our Free and Frictionless portal.




Destination transformation: Making the roadmap fly.

Ashvin Naik

Ashvin Naik

Principal Product Marketing Manager at EMC

In my previous post, we discussed the three step transformation roadmap—a recipe for big data nirvana. Wearing my big data hat, an entrepreneur’s heart, and a problem solving intent, here are a few ideas to see the map in action.

The airline industry hasMake Big Data Fly gone through many cycles, innovations, and disruptions both internal and external. Whatever the path or experiences, most airlines use complex ticket-pricing systems to maximize revenue. In addition to the topline, big data can improve the bottom-line through some innovative transformations.

But wait, what if we could maximize revenue and minimize costs while improving customer experience and maybe taking a step toward developing loyalty. Algebraically, this is just solving for three variables at a time—a true big data challenge. Continue reading

Surveillance Storage at Scale – Isilon and 1,000 Surveillance Cameras

Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis

Sr. Manager, Video Surveillance Global Business Development at EMC

One of the largest security exhibitions is right around the corner and EMC will be in the forefront at this year’s 61st ASIS Conference in Anaheim CA which will bring over 20,000 security professionals from around the world for a few days to sunny Southern California. ASIS is the place to explore the evolution of the security industry. There will be over 600 companies from physical security systems to cyber security products exhibiting.

Here is a quick preview of what you can expect from EMC at the conference.

Surveillance Camera is watching operation in the port.

We will be demonstrating what it means to use Isilon at Scale. What do I mean by “at scale?” Well, EMC Isilon can handle a workload of 1,000 surveillance cameras without breaking a sweat.  When I first started working in this industry in 2005, I would not have imagined a storage solution handling 1,000 cameras.  Since then, the industry has changed from analog to digital, from DVRs to servers and from standard definition to high definition. As a result, the expectation from a storage solution has evolved rapidly.

Today, IT is becoming more involved in determining and demanding an enterprise class surveillance solution that combines the best of COTS hardware and is open, flexible and scalable. Camera counts are increasing in certain use cases like: casinos, safety cities, mass transit and so are the storage requirements to support these large-scale deployments. It is not uncommon to see camera counts in the thousands covering airport terminals, downtown metropolitan areas and large casinos. There is so much data that is being stored and retained for longer periods of time that enterprises have started looking at IT for solutions rather than relying on the DVR/NVR appliances that resided in physical security silos.

If you’ll be at ASIS this year, stop by our booth (#2959) and we’ll illustrate how Isilon is meeting the demands of these use cases and just how easy it is to manage, maintain and grow an Isilon storage cluster.

Can’t make it to ASIS this year? Check out how other customers are using Isilon today to meet surveillance workloads at:

Thinking about the clouds? Stop by our booth to find out how Isilon is a better, more secure and economical approach to a hybrid cloud solution for many of the critical video surveillance use cases. There is much debate about where surveillance data should be stored – on-premises or in the cloud?  Talk to us at the conference to understand the right answer for your needs. Check out my earlier blog on why Isilon is the ideal for some of the major video surveillance requirements.

Hope to see you at the 1,000 camera Isilon demo in Anaheim.


Winning the Content Delivery Race With Innovative Storage Solutions

Dan Kieran

Dan Kieran

Sr. Director of Sales at EMC

2014 is a year where we saw an organizational shift—where production companies
moved towards being ‘always on’ to serve the connected customer. With the proliferation of mobile devices and content delivery portals, it should not be surprising the year also saw escalated efforts by production companies to connect with that consumer. As the needs of businesses and consumers continuously evolve, so do the systems providing information and data.

Any improvements Racingmade over the last couple of decades have not been enough to address rapid growth, various distribution channels, multiple devices and platforms, as well as changing customer expectations. We know that content production inefficiencies delay time-to-market, introducing unnecessary expenses, and limiting abilities to respond to opportunities or threats. Media and Entertainment companies are realizing they need to consolidate their IT into a common infrastructure by managing storage more effectively, and better utilize computing assets in order to ensure content created provides maximum business value.

Delivering High-Quality Content; Too Fast too Furious
The appetite for access to high-quality, repeatable entertainment is still very much a push factor for production companies to expand, and operating margins to increase. Consumer spending on home entertainment has remained a resilient market—and with Asia being the first “mobile-first” region—there is still plenty of unexploited opportunity in terms of enabling home entertainment. Continue reading

Why Purpose-Built Storage Still Rules Over “Unified Storage”: How ScaleIO Spanks Ceph on Performance

Randy Bias

Randy Bias

VP Technology at EMC

Collectively it’s clear that we’ve all had it with the cost of storage, particularly the cost to maintain and operate storage systems.  The problem is that data requirements, both in terms of capacity and IOPS are exploding and growing exponentially, while the cost of storage operations and management is growing proportionally to those data needs.  Historically the biggest culprit is “storage sprawl” where we have pairs of arrays throughout the datacenter, each of which has to be managed individually.  Silo after silo, requiring specialized training, its own HA and resiliency, monitoring, and so on.  It’s for this reason that many turned to so-called “unified storage.”  This, unfortunately, is a terrible idea for larger deployments and those running production systems.

Let me explain.

The Storage Unicorn & a Rational Solution
We all want what we can’t have: a single globally distributed, unified storage system, that is infinitely scalable, easy to manage, replicated between datacenters and serves block devices, file systems, and object, all without hiccups.  Bonus points if you throw in tape as well!  This is the Storage Unicorn.  No such beast exists and never will.  Even before the EMC acquisition of Cloudscaling I was talking about these issues in my white paper: The Case for Tiered Storage in Private Clouds.

The nut of that white paper is that tier-1, mission critical storage, is optimized for IOPS, while tier-3 is optimized for long term durability.  Think of flash vs. tape.  These are not the same technologies nor can they serve the same purpose or use cases.

A multi-purpose tool is great in a pinch, but if you need to do real work, you need a purpose-built tool:
Multi Purpose Purpose Built

The issue remains though; how do we reduce storage management costs and manage the scaling of storage in a rational manner?  There is no doubt, for example, that the multi-purpose tool is lower overhead.  It’s simply less things to manage. That is a pro and a con.

The challenge then is to walk away from the Unicorn.  You can’t have a single storage system to solve all of your woes.  However, you probably don’t have to live with tens or hundreds of storage systems either. Continue reading

3 Ways Scalable Technology is Enabling Media & Broadcast Companies

Yasir Yousuff

Yasir Yousuff

Sr. Director, Global Geo Marketing at EMC Emerging Technologies Division

We want great content, 3 ways scalable techand we want it now. We are a generation used to instant gratification, and technology has only served to amplify the need to be constantly connected on the go. This has created a unique broadcasting market dynamic in many developing countries – particularly in the Asia Pacific—the era of the Connected Consumer. According to International Data Corporation (IDC) in an article from OnScreen Asia, mobility is crucial to the lives of many consumers and the survival of businesses in Asia Pacific region, due to the combination of a fast growing economy and a lack of fixed infrastructure in developing countries. Broadcast companies must adapt to suit changing consumer preferences or risk becoming irrelevant.

How can businesses leverage mobile device adoption and utilize it to engage a fragmented audience?

Future-proofing—Staying Three Steps Ahead
Multi-platform content delivery is an industry trend broadcast companies are starting to embrace as a new way to engage consumers, monetizing those engagements, and better managing the user experience. This is to be expected especially with the rise of on-demand video platforms, consumer mobility, and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. New media services deliver web content to audiences through live streaming, as well as on-demand services via PCs and mobile devices.

This converged development of traditional and new media services has led to transmedia storytelling—the development of stories across multiple forms of media to deliver unique pieces of content across each channel. These pieces of sequential content work together to form a bigger picture, serving the purpose of reaching a wider target market. Therefore, the move to IP-based infrastructure becomes increasingly important as broadcast technology buyers continue to look for ways to make broadcast operational environments more efficient.

Broadcast companies, such as Zhejiang Radio and Television Group (ZRTG) in China, are focusing on enhancing the customer experience using intelligent selection to enhance content delivery. Selecting IP storage with EMC Isilon was a forward-thinking decision ZRTG made because it met the long-term performance requirements to access and edit media assets for high quality broadcast content. According to Luo Leiyi, Sector Chief at ZRTG, “One of the most important features of the EMC Isilon solution is the modular scalability, because as a broadcaster we need storage capacity to be quickly added as our programming and content services expand across multiple formats.”

Going Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
In recent times, efficiency has been a key motivation of broadcast technology purchasing. Increased operational efficiency and cost savings have proven to be considerably more significant than cutting-edge technology, according to Devoncraft’s 2014 Big Broadcast Survey. We have seen this with production companies moving to file-based or tapeless workflows—choosing to entirely digitize their content, consolidate silos, as well as streamline processes. This centralized data management and retrieval lowers migration workloads between core online facilities and secondary storage. To put it simply, content is created faster and at a lower cost, thanks to improved management and application efficiency.

Post-production firm, Adnet Global prides itself on same-day delivery for most of their services with EMC Isilon. To achieve this speed, large file and dataset transfers are spread over the EMC Isilon nodes, enabling massive gigabit per second throughput and the exchange of files within a predictable time. Nivas Patil, Senior Manager of Technology at Adnet Global explains, “The files for production are immediately available, which means we have more time to complete each job. Due to the performance, scalability, and high availability of the EMC Isilon storage, we have definitely increased our productivity.”

Time is Money
We all know time is money, and this is even more pertinent in the fast paced broadcast industry. As rich-media file sizes continue to increase and deadlines get shorter, production companies need to evolve the workflow to decrease time-to-market as well as reduce media production costs. There can be no time for downtime, and high systems availability is crucial. Downtime can be very expensive when you are Rising Sun Pictures (RSP), an Australia-based visual effects company which has worked on high profile feature films such as Gravity and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Mark Day, Head of Systems at RSP comments, “If a single node goes offline, there’s an automatic failover to other nodes in the Isilon cluster. Every piece of work we do is complex. Our software is demanding on storage because we produce more than a terabyte of data per hour. But we’re very confident that our valuable creative work and intellectual property is protected by Isilon.”


Live Long and Store Data: From Star Trek to the Internet of Things

Robert "Bobski" Masson

Robert "Bobski" Masson

Product Marketing Manager at EMC

The Internet of Things [IoT] is likely to be the Internet’s next big tidal wave and has the potential to impact how we live and interact with the world around us.

Hype, aggrandizement or timing aside, the market will be significant.  Forecasts for Internet of Things vary widely; with IDC’s Worldwide Internet of Things Forecast, 2015–2020 projecting an $8.9 trillion dollar market by 2020 while Gartner is more conservative at a $1.7 trillion dollar market and Bain projecting $1.2 trillion by 2017.  Truthfully like all new waves, IoT will probably not resemble the descriptions of today’s market analysts but the impact will be felt in how we prepare for the tidal wave.

The big questions in this whole Internet of Things puzzle revolve around data collection and storage.  How are we going to interact with the data and collect it and how is the data going to be stored in a meaningful way to make sense of all the data points.

Do you know what this is?

TricorderThis is an image of a Tricorder from the fictional television series Star Trek.  There were primarily three distinct versions used throughout the series but in general these multifunction hand-held devices were used for sensor scanning, data analysis, and recording data.   Captain Kirk or Spock could walk up to just about anything or anybody and with a push of a button get detailed information about the “thing” that was in front of them: medical and health information, engineering details of the ships computer system and whether the creature in front of them was friend or foe.

Today your iPhone or android device in your pocket is your Tricorder.  Think about that.  Today you have apps that monitor your health, track your workout, and control the heat in your house.  Soon you will be able to walk up to just about anything or anyone and with a push of button get detailed information on the spot.  Imagine walking into a restaurant and having the ability to learn about the ingredients in your meal, where the food was grown and how it arrived at the restaurant.  We are talking about the ability to do analytics on data in real-time and this will fundamentally change the way we interact and collect data.

The iPhone “Tricorder” answers the first question around interaction and data collection but what about the data storage?

If you follow along with the Star Trek theme there was a concept of “Ultimate Computer” in one of the episodes.  The ultimate computer system was built to handle all the ships functions without human assistance by gathering information through sensors and analyzing data to make decisions.   The computer system stores data regardless of whether the information came from legacy systems, Tricorder or even from new foreign systems.  It grew and learned through interactions.   It was essentially a data lake that collected the information and allowed for real-time analytics to make better decisions.  Think about that for our case today.

Fast forward to 2015 and the ultimate computer system is called EMC ECS, the scale-out object platform that is the foundation to our IoT data lake story.  EMC solves the question of “how is the data going to be stored in such a way that we can make sense of it?” by providing a geo-distributed data lake approach to collecting IoT information—perhaps billions of objects— regardless of where the data comes from. The geo-distributed data lake approach allows for Cloud apps, mobile devices, and analytics all to reside and coexist with legacy systems.

Just like in the case of Star Trek, you will have a system in place that will grow with you no matter what new connectivity the Internet of Things will bring.  The EMC data lake will grow and learn with you. ECS IOT

So here’s to jumping into the deep end of the data lake with EMC and embracing the new wave coming from the Internet of Things.

Live Long & Store Data

Star Trek Data

IT Operations Management Insights From the United Airlines, NYSE and WSJ Outages

Brian Lett

Brian Lett

Senior Product Marketing Manager

In rapid-fire succession on 8 July 2015, United Airlines, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) website experienced extremely high-profile outages.

The culprits? For United Airlines and the IT OperationsNYSE, it was the network (routers and gateways, respectively); for the WSJ, it was the combination of insufficient capacity for unanticipated demand, and a failure of server connections (a 504 error).

Key factors in these events were network devices, outages, downtime, service impact, configurations, and capacity –the realm of monitoring and management of IT infrastructure used to deliver applications and services. Yet most of what I’ve read sensationalized the nonexistent cybersecurity angle. So I’m highlighting some key IT operations management insights to take away from incidents such as these:

Any assumption that could impact ongoing business and IT operations should be considered wrong. Felix Unger said it best: Never assume.

The United Airlines router outage impacted applications and services that ultimately grounded all planes. An IT operator easily could have assumed in such a scenario that he or she would see a relevant alert generated by a faulty device. But what if the bad router effectively imploded before getting a chance to deliver its “suicide note”? Then the operator has to know to look for events that should have been generated but weren’t. In my experience, the kind of out-of-the-box thinking needed to immediately deduce this type of problem is extremely rare – especially in a major-outage scenario, in which significant pressure exists to solve the problem ASAP, and everyone presumes all relevant data is there, but it just hasn’t (yet) been properly analyzed into something insightful. Continue reading

Closing the Gap between the 4K Dream & Reality

Charles Sevior

Charles Sevior

Chief Technology Officer at EMC Emerging Technologies Division

Television has come a long way since video formats such as NTSC, PAL, VHS and Betamax – the transition of digital video from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD), and now most recently Ultra HD or 4K.

What is 4K and what does it mean for professional broadcasters?

With quadruple the 4K Broadcastingresolution of HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), the first noticeable benefit of 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) is the improved picture sharpness. However, this brings new challenges to the broadcast workflow such as increased storage capacity, processing power, delivery bandwidth, and rendering time. Broadcast and production companies are on the hunt for solutions to seamlessly transition from HD to 4K. For the 4K dream to become a reality, an industry-wide shift in consumer, manufacturer, and content creator habits has to happen. Continue reading