Mobile future will force business into the cloud: EMC

Data collected through mobile applications is putting pressure on companies to upgrade their legacy infrastructures to the cloud in order to support and service the information that is coming through.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Kicking off EMC World 2014 in Las Vegas, EMC president of products and marketing Jeremy Burton drew on how he used a mobile application to make a car insurance claim almost on-the-spot through his smartphone following a car accident as an example of how far technology has evolved.

Burton indicated applications such as the one he used, which enabled him to capture the accident in detail via a sketch, a voice recording, and providing a written recount, will redefine infrastructures of businesses. He said in order for companies to support the influx of the different kinds of information and the magnitude of them, a business would need to scale up to support it.

"We think these kinds of applications will redefine business in every industry. We think it's going to have a knock on effect on infrastructure inside IT and with storage being a part of that infrastructure that is going to get redefined too," he said, noting it epitomises the "third platform of IT", a term coined by research firm IDC that represents the next evolution of enterprise computing based on mega trends of cloud, mobile, social, and big data.

To date, businesses have focused aggressively on virtualisation and automating private clouds so information can be shared as they adjust to the growing pressures of transforming their infrastructures, according to Burton.

He suggested the next step businesses need to take is to automate the environment into a hybrid cloud model to make things more reliable, agile, efficient, and cost-effective, despite the fact that there's no real "instruction guide" on how they can build one.

As such, EMC has launched a series of software-defined storage technologies, including an Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance, a scale-out cloud storage infrastructure that delivers the agility and cost benefits of public cloud, while still giving the control and security that on-premise private cloud provides.

The company has suggested that it will lower total cost ownership (TCO) by between 23-28 percent when compared to TCO of public clouds from Amazon and Google.

"The thing we've been really focused on is providing the hybrid cloud solution. For the IT guy who doesn't really know the way forward, they ask can we build the Bible and they can then implement it themselves or we'll also provide expertise to help because some these workloads can go off premise and others can't for regulatory reasons like privacy or security," Burton said.

"The reality is we end up going to a lot of our customers and telling them they need to consider both and a big change I've seen in the last year or two is you can't have a conversation just about private cloud, it's always private cloud and public cloud together."

Burton believes it's the smaller companies that will be first to grasp the concept of how hybrid cloud will benefit their business compared to the larger companies that will take a "long, long time because some data is so sensitive that folks don't want to trust it to anyone else, and also there are going to be certain workloads that don't run with an adequate performance in the public cloud."

"The transition from the mainframe happened over a decade so this move to the third platform of IT is going to take a while because there's so much invested in the existing infrastructure," Burton said.

"Every business knows they have to render their service through mobile devices to reach the consumer as they want that direct relationship, whether it's banking, retail, or telecommunications. So now systems have hundreds and thousands of users and therefore they have to deal with more data. The transition will happen from to 2020."

Burton concluded as businesses redefine their infrastructures and look at ways to free up their existing budget to fund new projects, such as creating new apps, it's also an opportunity for IT to be innovative again.

"In the 90's you arguably had the most innovative spell of IT ever because there was the advent of PC and workgroup servers, and it was very empowering for businesses to build new functionalities," he said.

"The thing is, we created a mess and chaos, so we had consolidated it. After a massive centralisation of IT and it's not looked as an innovator; it's looked as a pain and cost.

"The good news for the IT guys is, if they get their mojo going, they can once again be in a position to transform the business and IT needs to look at that from an apps and infrastructure standpoint because the apps won't work against the existing infrastructure."

Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to Las Vegas as a guest of EMC.

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