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EMC Extends Cloud Services, Buys Pivotal Labs

Just weeks after EMC unveiled five security and risk management advisory services, driven in part by the need to 'provide its customers with end-to-end solutions', the storage giant's consulting arm is at it again, with a new set of service offerings. The company says the new additions to its cloud services portfolio will accelerate the adoption, consumption, optimization, and management of cloud computing, and will align to such critical IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) elements as cloud infrastructure, cloud optimized applications, and end-user computing.

EMC also announced the acquisition of Pivotal Labs, a privately-held provider of software development services and tools.

The Cloud Infrastructure Services are intended to help clients define the right architectural design for their cloud strategy: hybrid, public, and private, and enable them to accelerate the adoption and benefits of cloud technology solutions, including converged infrastructure. EMC says the Cloud Optimized Applications will help customers accomplish their application rationalization and modernization objectives and accelerate the virtualization of mission-critical applications, as well as enable Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), application replatforming, and application infrastructure optimization. The third announcement, End-user Computing, involves new services to help customers accelerate the move to Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) and the incorporation of mobile platforms.

According to a prepared statement from Howard Elias, president and COO, EMC Information Infrastructure and Cloud Services, today’s announcement represents an evolution and expansion of EMC’s cloud services portfolio. “EMC is now bringing our customers a comprehensive set of services to help them transform their IT operations to an agile as-a-service model to enable significantly reduced OpEx and CapEx as well as improved business alignment.”

Use of cloud computing services continues to creep upward among those responding to the second InformationWeek Reports State of Cloud Computing Survey, published earlier this year. We see fewer new adopters of infrastructure as a service during the next 12 months. However, new users of platform as a service, software as a service and the cloud computing services provided by virtualization vendors all show continued high or increasing percentages.

The survey doesn't show abandonment of infrastructure as a service so much as a greater interest in the higher-level services that can be added to it. IT is going to the cloud not only for plain-vanilla infrastructure, such as paying for pay-per-use online servers or storage. On the contrary, once solid infrastructure is established, its real value shows up when services are layered on top of it.

For Postmedia Network Inc., a subsidiary of the largest publisher of paid English-language daily newspapers in Canada, and a very happy EMC cloud-services customer for the last couple of years, the new services were just what they were looking for. Reaching millions of Canadians every week through a variety of print, online, digital, and mobile platforms, it first engaged with EMC to build an on-premise private cloud, says Mark Boucher, VP, Technology services. The latest project involved extending that private cloud infrastructure to its Internet-facing properties.

A lot of the challenges tend to be organizational, proving to stakeholders that this will allow you to scale and perform, he says. Postmedia is looking to go live in another month with its Infomart offering, a media monitoring service used by thousands of corporate and government clients. Initial results have far surpassed expectations, including a 1300% improvement in storage utilization, as well as compute power. “We're not even near capacity, and are going to move from just Infomart to moving all of our newspapers to that infrastructure.”

Boucher says the whole foray in this space is predicated on data center hosting costs. “We actually drive out significant data-center hosting costs by consolidating the number of racks in our disaster recovery facility.” While totally unexpected, the company's virtualization strategy paid off when its secondary data center went dark through a power outage. “It's unheard of, and we had to use the vSphere SRM feature to move the workload from one data center to another while hosting corrected the issue.”

EMC has been very unique in Boucher's experience in dealing with a vendor. “I held them to some very key contractual obligations... we want to try this out and you will prove it will work or we will give it all back. From a partnership perspective they understood where I was at, and were with me all the way, been very key partner. I've been in this game a long time and very few engagements at this level have gone this well.”

The all-cash acquisition of San Francisco-based Pivotal Labs is expected to enhance EMC's products and services targeted at 'big data'. Its software development tool, Pivotal Tracker, has more than 240,000 developer customers worldwide.

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