EMC's Tucci: Cloud Computing Is the Future

infrastructure virtualization

That was the message Monday from Joe Tucci, EMC's president, chairman, and CEO, to an audience of 7,000 customers and partners attending the company's annual EMC World conference, held this week in Orlando, Fla.

This is the first year since the World War II era where the global economy is facing a declining gross domestic product (GDP), and customers are cutting spending because of it, Tucci said.

EMC has also taken a hit because of the reduced spending, with revenue down 9 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period last year.

EMC in this respect is doing better than most vendors, Tucci said. "We're ahead of the curve," he said. "But it's still a decline, and we have to deal with it."

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Customers want to save money to meet tighter or shrinking budgets, but at the same time invest in needed infrastructure, get faster returns on investment and reduce risk, Tucci said. "But while you are doing all this, you also want to make sure you're prepared for the next-generation data center and next-generation technologies," he said.

Because of this, customers are spending on technologies to consolidate storage and increase utilization of existing hardware, including disk-based backup and recovery, automated tiered storage, thin provisioning and unified Fibre Channel and iSCSI SAN and NAS, Tucci said.

The impact of server virtualization on storage has also become important. Tucci said that 48 percent of storage connected to VMware environments is on EMC equipment.

Even so, Tucci said, VMware is a very open technology. "We encourage all our competitors to look at the VMware environment," he said. "We work very openly, very competitively."

Solid-state technology is also starting to have an impact on the storage market as prices quickly fall, Tucci said. When EMC first started using solid-state drives early last year, they cost about 40 times the price of rotating hard drives. However, he said, during the last five quarters, prices come down at least 76 percent to the point where they cost only eight times standard hard drives.

Looking forward, the data center of the future has certain requirements, Tucci said. They include continuous availability of storage through such technologies as data replication and disk-based backup; continuous availability of applications through technologies such as VMware; and information security through identity protection and security management to ensure data is managed to highest level of compliance.

It is also important to manage data based on the value of the information and the policies which are required by the customers for compliance purposes, Tucci said. That will help companies provide a common way to archive data regardless of the application, and make sure it is protected and in compliance as the information is moved.

All this can be orchestrated via virtualization and automated management, Tucci said.

EMC is providing that level of automation with technology to manage both virtual and physical IT resources, all of which is provided by a services organization of over 14,000 service professionals along with a large number of partners, he said.

They are working together to virtualize the entire data center of the future, and will eventually participate in building cloud computing infrastructures that consist of virtual data centers, appliances and applications, Tucci said.

What customers like about their current data centers is that they can control them, they are reliable and they are secure, Tucci said. "You can go to sleep at night and think, you did a heckuva job," he said.

A move towards cloud computing provides more flexibility and the ability to provision and use IT on an on-demand basis, Tucci said. However, customers have yet to see it as trusted or as secure as traditional data centers. So EMC and its partners are providing the virtualization tools to help make data centers start to act like computing clouds.

"What we're really doing is making your data center more cloud-like, an internal cloud," he said. "And we're attaching them to an external cloud using VMware, making them federated."

Eventually, it will be possible to use internal data centers and the external compute clouds equally, Tucci said, but only after the security of working with those compute clouds is assured.

"In the future, you're going to say, 'My data center is my internal cloud, but I'm also going to pick two or three service providers for my external cloud, and I'm going to drop part of my internal cloud into my external cloud,'" he said. "And that's the advantage of working with EMC and VMware."