Big Data meets Small Business?

I just returned from EMC World 2011 in Las Vegas. 'Big Data meets Cloud' was the tagline on all EMC marketing materials. This was by far the largest conference that I have ever attended with over 10,000 attendees and 3,000 EMC employees. EMC typically deals with large storage systems and owns a majority of VMware which deals with virtualization. My purpose of attending this conference was to see what EMC had in store of small and medium business and how do they perceive the cloud changing the way that Information Technology is delivered. Here are my observations:

  • Storage Attached Networks (SANs) and Network Attached Storage (NASs) are getting better and better. These are products that are no longer the domain of large enterprises whom can afford expensive storage and expensive storage administrators to support them. It is now entirely possible to get a very capable entry level SAN for less than 10,000. One of my favourite comments from one of the EMC engineers was that the Unisphere software on their VNXe SANs was so simple that a grade 5 kid could do it. I've used Unisphere and I can't say I disagree. It is very simple to use, and is leaps and bounds superior to the Navisphere software we were using only a few short years ago.

  • Private Clouds. EMC had a lot of information on how to build your own 'private cloud'

  • It is often very difficult for the business to understand or quantify the costs of Information Technology. Private Clouds will allow IT departments in large organizations to better show costs to their businesses. This will also allow for charge backs to the appropriate business units.

  • Large IT departments are starting to think of themselves as service providers out of necessity. This will only improve the level of service that IT provides to it's customers whether that customer is internal or external. The bar is being raised.

  • The 'Cloud' is not a fad or a flash in the pan. Many of us in the IT industry are secretly hoping that 'cloud' will go away and we can get back to business as usual. This is simply not the case. The cloud is here to stay and it is revolutionizing how Information Technology is delivered. All the large vendors have realized this and are on board.

Ultimately it was an interesting conferenfce in a facinating city. Kudos to EMC for holding a great event.