Despite the virtualization/cloud computing/mobile office technology revolution, and despite virtualizing 85% of EMC’s own internal infrastructure (http://siliconangle.com/blog/2011/05/17/85-virtualization-shifts-emcs-it-budget-ratio-to-50-innovation/), the real challenge is not rebuilding your entire IT infrastructure, says Tony Pagliarulo, the VP of EMC’s IT Service Delivery Group. It’s making IT relevant, responsive, and most of all accessible to the business.
“When I think of IT-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, it’s all bits and bytes,” he said in an interview on SiliconAngle.TV from SAPphire 2011 (http://www.siliconangle.tv/search/node/Tony%20Pagliarulo), “but the big issue is how do you expose IT in a way that the business can consume it. Because frankly we’re competing with the Salesforce.coms and the Amazons, and we have to present our value proposition in the same way they do.”
Therefore, he told Wikibon Co-Founder David Vellante and SiliconAngle.com Founder John Furrier, “Whether you’re moving to a private cloud or implementing SAP, it’s about business change and transformation, and that’s never easy.”
This issue permeates every aspect of his job. It is the reason behind his three-year campaign to virtualize EMC’s entire IT environment and move it to a private cloud architecture, it heavily influences the new technologies he hopes to add to the environment in the future, and it influences the training he provides to the IT staff and the hiring selections he makes.
Virtualization, as massive a program as it was and still is, was only the preparation for the future Pagliarulo envisions to meet business transformation needs. The next step, which is already well in progress, is creating the mobile office. EMC is using several strategies simultaneously to make as many of its enterprise applications available on multiple mobile platforms as possible.
“Right now I have my iPad running VDI on VMview,” he says. “We run a lot of our applications off of that today, and we have about 500 virtual images running in EMC right now.”
This is a completely device-agnostic approach, he says. “We will provision a user experience wherever you are. Based on your role, you will pull down that secure container and have all the applications you need on whatever platform you have – a tablet, a laptop, sitting in a kiosk somewhere in a Starbucks.”
However, that is not the only approach EMC is using. It also has apps for the Apple iOS and Android devices, some provided through the Apple App Store and some through EMC’s internal app distribution. And it is already trying out an as yet unreleased Web solution from VMware that will be accessed through Web browsers rather than a GUI.
A much larger problem than delivering functionality to mobile platforms, he says, is developing an understanding of business issues and vocabulary in the IT department. “One of my biggest challenges is getting my application architects to speak business lexicon.” This is a perpetual problem for IT – it speaks tech talk, which business people find incomprehensible, and does not really understand what the business wants to hear. The difference is that today business has a choice – SaaS providers do discuss the value of their services in business terms.
What he really would like to hire, he says, is a data architect, whom me defines as “someone who understands the technology and the business context.”
Further out, he says, one reason he is at SAPphire is to find out SAP’s direction, particularly in the BI area. Today BI technologies are wedded to structured databases, and OLTP, while powerful, is not easy to use. And most businesses, including EMC, have a variety of data sources, some structured and some unstructured, and with the latter becoming more important. What he would really like to see is a BI technology that can be run against a Greenplum big data database that can draw on all of those sources.
And, he says, he hopes that that new generation BI system also incorporates the features of the new mobile user interfaces in some way to make it more accessible for business users.
“Instead of spending two weeks writing a report to add one column, if we could expose that information directly to users and leverage between Greenplum and some type of SAP solution to go to BI self-service, that would be a great step forward.”