Former EMC CIO Joins GlassHouse

'CIOs are looking for help,' says former CIO turned storage consultant

May 12, 2005

4 Min Read
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Storage is increasingly becoming more of a business issue than a technical one for CIOs, according to Dave Ellard, who recently left his CIO post at EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) to join storage consultant GlassHouse Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BSX) as senior vice president of corporate development (see Former EMC CIO Joins GlassHouse).

Although GlassHouse announced Ellards appointment today, he’s actually been on the job since March. He was EMC’s CIO for four years until last November, and CIO of Boston Scientific Corp. for five years before that.

At GlassHouse, Ellard's going to be advising CIOs on the business issues involved in storage networking. He says that's an education that's sorely needed. And he elaborated when we caught up with him this week.

Byte and Switch: Why did you change jobs?

Ellard: I just had an interest in doing less of the traditional CIO gig after doing it for so many years. I'd had enough of being a CIO and worrying about Blackberries and email box sizes. I joined GlassHouse to help [CEO Mark Shirman] develop this business.Byte and Switch: How can storage consultants best help CIOs today?

Ellard: There’s a huge market for consulting to sort out data growth... The biggest topic at CIO roundtables now is what to do with data growth. That’s the problem du jour because everybody has it and they never had it before. When I traveled the country talking to CIOs, they didn’t understand the problem or know what to do with it.

Byte and Switch: How do you see the CIO’s role changing in regards to storage?

Ellard: In the past, the CIO was not even involved with storage. It was not a pure business issue like the supply chain in a factory... All of a sudden, a CIO is having meetings on storage and cost. That never happened before. And the CIO is pulling his hair out because he hasn’t been involved with this problem before. CIOs are looking for help.

Byte and Switch: As CIO at EMC, did you need outside help for storage?Ellard: As a CIO, I always used consultants for the business process but not for storage. Techie guys have traditionally taken care of the data center. To deal with data growth, they throw in more stuff. That’s their hobby. They get off on technology. They don't talk about simplification and consolidation, because there’s more job security with complexity.

Technology is getting faster and cheaper every year, and it's starting to look more and more alike between the vendors. No longer can you say “How much per megabyte?” Now more of the issue is “OK, let’s treat this as a business process.”

Byte and Switch: Are there specific types of customers or vertical markets more likely to be struggling with managing data growth?

Ellard: Since I’ve started here [March 1], we’ve had more than three RFPs from brokers. We didn’t have to go in and sell them, they’ve come to us and said, “Can you help?’ Two of them said, "I don’t want my typical storage vendors involved.” I’m surprised more [consultant companies] aren’t getting involved.

Byte and Switch: It seems like more storage companies are getting involved with consulting and services. [See RIP: CNT UMD, StorageTek Swears by Services, Sun Tweaks Pricing, Adds Services, and EMC Delivers Content Storage Services.]Ellard: Vendors are only beginning to realize they have upfront consulting opportunities. What they miss is having presale consultants to do a business case. If they can talk to CIOs, which they don’t typically do much, it will drive their gear sales. The only one really doing that is EMC.

Byte and Switch: So do storage consultants usually drive gear sales?

Ellard: The customers may or may not need more gear. They typically do, but they need to know why they need more gear. They’re underutilizing what they have. They need heterogeneous software tools so they can see the whole storage environment and manage it better. A lot of times they own the software that came with the hardware but never installed it.

Smart vendors are going with heterogeneous automation tools and consolidation tools. Customers can’t put them in without a business process... You’re not going to have one vendor running the data center.

Byte and Switch: What are the most useful storage technologies you see out there now?Ellard: Anything to do with virtualization is a good idea -- more on the server side than the storage side. Anything that helps manage unstructured data growth: music files, documents, images, and X-rays. Even email is semi-structured. All that stuff in file systems is a mess.

The problem comes from the apps we’ve put in going back to the 90s. I call them toilets that don’t flush. They were installed, they a collect lot of data, and they don’t archive right.

The hot technologies are those that collect that and put it in one place and manage it -- database content repository software that can put order to it, also tools that apply business value, that let you say, "This kind of info has more value than this kind of info as it ages.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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