EMC CIO Takes On Big Data Problems With Big Data Analytics

Every second of every day, IT generates enormous amounts of data around operational activity – system behavior, application performance, user actions, security activity, and more. Instead of viewing this data explosion as a Big Data problem, IT views it as opportunity to use Big Data solutions such as IT Operations Analytics to improve the quality of their services.

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For example, 75% IT professionals surveyed recently said that they believe that IT Operations Analytics are able to transform data into relevant insights into actionable plans for improvement. I spoke with EMC CIO Vic Bhagat to describe how EMC is embracing Big Data for IT Operations Analytics to solve critical problems affecting EMC IT Operations and customers.

1.  What are the biggest problems faced by IT Operations Management at EMC and how were these problems addressed before the world of Big Data?

IT generates enormous amounts of data when monitoring complex, rapidly growing and changing IT infrastructures and the applications. The challenge for IT Operations Management is to leverage this data to build an adaptive system that is more proactive, and less reactive. The more the system can learn from the data, the better it can identify variances and problems areas in a timely manner to help IT fix issues before it negatively impacts the business such as downtime or poor performance.

In the past, we relied on traditional business intelligence and data warehousing systems to gain intelligence or insight based on historical trends. Now, with analytics, we can uncover important variables and modify them to predict an outcome. And, the more data we collect at a detailed level, the more accurate we can be.

2.  How does Big Data analytics change the game to address these problems more effectively?

It cuts down the time to gain insight. The most heavily used word after ‘selfie’ is now ‘data lake’. Everyone wants to build a data lake since it provides the right architecture and capabilities to cut down the cycle time in deriving newer, predictive insight, and then continuously integrating these results back into our business processes and decision-making. At EMC, we are moving away from data warehouses to a data lake architecture enabling us to not only gain faster insight, but also gain newer insight by bringing together and analyzing both structured and unstructured data.

For example, in a data warehouse you manage structured data such as part numbers, bay numbers, disk numbers, chassis numbers, and more. In a data lake you can manage all of this structured data in addition to unstructured data such as user manuals for each system and component. Let’s now apply this data lake solution to a use case – we continuously monitor the health of a customer’s infrastructure with our call home systems. We can now leverage a data lake with more data sets to not only make more accurate component failure predictions, but we can also provide the relevant information needed from user manuals to fix the problem in a timely manner so the customer experiences no downtime.

3.  What is EMC’s IT Operations Analytics solution leveraging Big Data technologies and techniques?

We are leveraging the entire Pivotal Big Data Suite to ingest and store all of the structured and unstructured data – Pivotal Gemfire XD, Pivotal HD, Pivotal HAWQ, and Pivotal Greenplum Database. Our Data Scientists are then able to apply advanced analytic techniques to the data they need using their choice of tools which are MadLib, R, and Python. This Big Data environment will be part of a wider business data lake strategy, where all enterprise data will be managed, accessed, and used equally by all business applications, not just IT Operations. Only a few legacy or specialized applications will standalone.

4. What benefits has EMC gained from this Big Data solution?

The benefits are enormous and can be extracted from both business and technical benefits. Building predictive models and predicting imminent system failure reduces downtime and the number of alerts and enables us to identify the real issues faster, reducing the cycle for decision making and taking corrective action. This improves our performance, productivity and value we gain from Big Data.

But we are only scratching the surface. The more we can optimize our Big Data environment so that it is elastic and accessible, the faster and more precise Data Scientists will be in solving problems. For example, we can now predict MS Exchange outages two hours in advance.

5. One of the biggest barriers to getting value from Big Data is the skills shortage. How does EMC IT Operations address this issue?

EMC had the foresight to build Centers of Excellence (COE) around the globe, producing the expertise and skills needed to transition into the realm of Data Science. We are fortunate to leverage talent within the company, but also leverage the COE to attract and acquire new Data Science talent outside the company.

6. What books are you currently reading on your Kindle or if you are still paper based like me, what books are stacked on your nightstand?

I’m Kindle based, so I read periodicals such as Techmeme and Engadget. Since we are a company that is data and digital driven, I am reading a book called ‘Leading Digital’. I want help lead this digital revolution at EMC and this book provides great examples of how digital makes significant changes in how a company operates and kills bureaucracy.

Big Data Pains & Gains From A Real Life CIO

What does it take to make CIO Magazine’s Top 100 List? Big Data victory is one of them.
Michael Cucchi, Sr Director of Product Maketing at Pivotal, had the privilege to speak with one of the winners – EMC CIO Vic Bhagat. Discussing the pains and gains of EMC’s Big Data initiative, I have put together a summary of this interview below.  EMC IT’s approach to Big Data is exactly what the EVP Federation enables organizations to do – first collect any and all data in a Data Lake, deploy the right analytic tool that your people know how to use to analyze the data, and finally learn agile development so you can take those insights and build applications rapidly.

1. Why is Big Data important to your business?

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Can Big Data Shape A Better Future? Quid is Paving the Way

World hunger, political conflict, business competition and other complex problems cannot be solved with mathematical algorithms measuring probabilities alone. However, by combining together human intelligence with the best artificial intelligence, the company Quid has built software that experts are calling the worlds first augmented intelligence platform. Using superior speed and storage capacity of computation, the process by which human beings typically acquire the deep pattern recognition of expertise is accelerated. The software does more than run simple prediction algorithms, it allows users to interact with data in an immersive, visual environment to better understand the world at a high resolution so that they can ultimately shape it and change it.

Founded in 2010, Quid is addressing a new class of problems to help organizations make strategic decisions around business innovation, public relations, foreign policy, human welfare, and more. Through advanced visualizations that interpret massive amounts of diverse internal and publicly accessible external data sets, Quid tells a unique and compelling story about the complexity of our world – trends, comparisons, multi-dimensional relationships, etc. – to change the direction of decision making.

For Quid, it’s not about man battling it out with machines, but rather, man working with machines when entering a new level of complex problem solving. For example, military intelligence may one day be able to change the direction of future conflicts by working with Quid software to analyze millions of data points from war logs and reports, news articles, and social media about the most recent casualties of war. The intelligence teams plugged into Quid would be able to see the war unfold as it happens across multiple data dimensions and uncover the mathematical patterns hidden in the data that are shaping the direction of the conflict.

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I spoke with Quid Co-founder and CTO Sean Gourley to explain how Quid is helping organizations leverage Big Data and augmented intelligence to tackle the Bigger Problems they are facing in a fast moving world.

1.  Quid applies Data Intelligence to Big Data – a very different concept than applying Data Science to Big Data. Please explain.

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Revolution Analytics Boosts the Adoption of R in the Enterprise

The path to competitive advantage is being able to make predictions from Big Data. Therefore, the more you can build predictive analytics into your business processes, the more successful your organization will become. There is no doubt that open-source R is the programming language of choice for predictive analytics, and thanks to Revolution Analytics, R has the enterprise capabilities needed to drive adoption across the organization and for every employee to make data-driven decisions.

Revolution Analytics is to R what the vendor RedHat is to the Linux operating system—a company devoted to enhancing and supporting open-source software for enterprise deployments. For example, Revolution Analytics recently released R Enterprise 7 to meet the performance demands of Big Data whereby R now runs natively within Hadoop and data warehouses. I spoke with David Smith, VP of Marketing at Revolution Analytics to explain how Revolution Analytics has accelerated the adoption of R in the enterprise.

1.  What benefits do Revolution Analytics provide to organizations over just using open-source R?

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