In The Boardroom With...

Mr. Nikhil Sharma
Senior Director, Cloud Solutions

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today, Nikhil.  Before discussing EMC solutions in greater detail and the upcoming FORECAST 2014 please tell us about your background.

Nikhil Sharma:  I am the Senior Director of Next Gen Cloud Solutions, Corp Office of CTO, at EMC. This means that I initiate cool cloud technologies and concepts, before handing it off to Business Units for products and/or solutions. As an example, my group led the roll out of drivers and solutions for OpenStack for storage.

In the past I had held positions of the Director of Cloud Solutions at Intel Datacenter Group, and before that was the Chief Data Architect at Intel IT. I am proud to be one of the founding advisors to Open Data Center Alliance, an international consortium for building open and inter-operable cloud solutions.

Check out my blog on http://solutionizeit.com/ for insights on Cloud Solutions.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: May we have an overview of the key trends and highlights EMC will be discussing at FORECAST 2014?

Nikhil Sharma: The most significant trend that we will be talking about is the Hybrid Cloud phenomenon, which has also been identified as a critical trend in an ODCA usage model. Public cloud providers offer significant end-user agility and controls. However use of public cloud, I think, is limited to isolated and specific workloads so far. Difficulty in data and application mobility restricts wider use of public cloud in Enterprise. To add to that we have trust issues due to the risks involved in cloud. Hence we see the emergence of Hybrid Cloud, which deliver similar benefits of public cloud, without the risks. Recent hybrid cloud solutions from VMWare and EMC showcase how to address the issues of application mobility and trust in cloud. We also address many of the requirements identified in an ODCA usage model – virtual machine interoperability in Hybrid Cloud.

The other trend and phenomenon we will be discussing is the emergence of software defined storage, leading to data center and cloud agility.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: The security environment today is more challenging than ever before with unprecedented security threats on the one hand and limited budgets and legacy systems on the other. Your thoughts?

Nikhil Sharma: This is a serious challenge leading to a lack of trust among consumers in Cloud and Cloud technologies. Part of the problem is that we are trying to Band-Aid the environment with the same old perimeter-based technologies. Key here is that our perimeters have increased many-fold or some may say have practically dissolved in today’s environment. An all-round paradigm shift is required, from technologies to processes. Gartner recommends (Customized Security and Risk Assessment in Cloud Contracts Protect against Critical Risk; 19th Feb 2014) that consumers may have to profile their workloads and require specific provisions in provider contracts to mitigate risk. Cloud platforms and cloud providers will need to implement Intelligence Driven Security, using advanced analytics to provide security teams necessary context and visibility to quickly detect and respond to threats before any damage is done.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: What is your perspective on the value proposition EMC brings to the table in this environment?

Nikhil Sharma: EMC is in a unique position to drive change in this environment, in two ways. EMC owns RSA, which is the most recognized global brand in security and has an arsenal of well recognized and used security assets. RSA is investing in certain game-changing technologies around Security Analytics, which can provide visibility to detect these threats ahead of the signs of early damage. Secondly the EMC Federation, which includes VMWare and Pivotal, provides the most comprehensive end-to-end solution stack all the way to application workloads and data. This not only helps in building security into solution stacks at the outset, but brings us closer to applications and data, providing a much richer context to detect low level anomalies, which go undetected with traditional security tools and approaches.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: One will read on EMC.com that, “EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver information technology as a service (ITaaS). Fundamental to this transformation is cloud computing. Through innovative products and services, EMC accelerates the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store, manage, protect and analyze their most valuable asset — information — in a more agile, trusted and cost-efficient way.” Are there any “new” solutions at EMC you would like to discuss?

Nikhil Sharma: Our focus and thrust of the newer solutions are towards enabling what IDC calls as the Third Platform, the reality that is rapidly permeating the global IT landscape that combines mobile, cloud, big data, and social applications. This journey starts with solutions on data lakes, with analytics-based assets from Pivotal. Our flash-based storage platforms help enable a Hot Edge to remove the IO-related bottlenecks for such applications. Our recent acquisition of DSSD, which pools flash on servers as shared storage, is a clear progression in that direction. Lastly the thrust on Software defined Storage solutions, with ViPR, to provision and manage traditional storage and data services dynamically based on policies.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com:  EMC’s brand recognition and track record in every market segment is truly second to none. Are there any particular success stories you would like to talk about?

Nikhil Sharma: I would like to bring attention to Isilon, which is our Scale out storage solution and represents a very successful and growing product and segment. We have had a very successful launch of Isilon 7.1 and product is in high demand. If you look deeper you will find that Isilon supports many of the requirements listed in the ODCA usage model on Scale out storage. Things like multi-protocol support, not only does Isilon support block and file, it supports HDFS. With HDFS support a user can run Hadoop queries on top of data stored in any file format. Exactly what the ODCA usage model states as a requirement. Also added is support for various security requirements. So it is not surprising that we have a popular product, after all it meets the requirements of end users, as stated in the ODCA usage model.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thanks again for joining us today, Nikhil.  Are there any other subjects you would like to discuss?

Nikhil Sharma: We were a founding member and a big believer of ODCA, representing the voice of end users. We hope to continue this successful journey to an Open Data Center with ODCA.