I recently had the opportunity to speak with Wissam Halabi, an EMC Distinguished Engineer from the EMC IT Office of Architecture and Innovation. Wissam is a Microsoft expert as well as an architect in charge of designing EMC’s IT environment for Microsoft. I was curious to find out more about how EMC uses Microsoft for internal IT purposes and found our discussion quite interesting.
I learned that EMC uses SQL Server for various database purposes. SharePoint is deployed in an innovative internal as-a-Service offering – an interesting story for another day, EMC is deploying System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) for monitoring purposes and that we use Lync for instant messaging in conjunction with Exchange for email. It turns out EMC has been a long time user of Exchange and the footprint has grown dramatically.
Around the 2004 timeframe, EMC had about 27,000 mail boxes deployed on 168 mailbox servers across 10 sites. As EMC grew from 2004 to 2009, EMC IT implemented a global messaging infrastructure that consolidated worldwide exchange servers to two managed data centers with over 50,000 mailboxes on Exchange 2003 supporting 400 offices in 80 countries. Keeping pace with growing storage demand was a major problem at the time. IT initiated an archiving project to reduce storage requirements and to come into compliance with new EMC governance policies. The archiving part of the story is fascinating but that too will have to wait for a future post. Overall the global messaging infrastructure project led to cost saving estimated at $20M, largely due to storage tiering and centralized management.
EMC continued its growth and the requirements for Exchange were even more demanding. From 2009 – 2011, EMC upgraded to Exchange 2007 with 64,000 mailboxes in an environment EMC IT specified to provide 99.99% uptime and zero data loss. The infrastructure would be 100% virtualized with 100% disaster recovery in place. It would also accommodate the surge in mobile devices and requiring support for 25% of the user population now using BlackBerry devices to access email.
Given the growth and demands of email on EMC IT and thinking about EMC moving to Exchange 2010, our use of SharePoint, coupled with EMC’s push to cloud computing, I was curious to discuss the pros and cons of Office 365 and whether a company like EMC might consider Office 365 as an option. My expectation from Wissam was a polite decline. A company with a sophisticated IT team like EMC would not consider such an option. To my surprise, Wissam pulled up presentations with supporting spreadsheets to show me that EMC had in fact extensively investigated the feasibility of a move to Office 365.
Wissam compared 5 different cloud options ranging from a full Microsoft 365 option to a CSC or similar hosted option and finally a full EMC private cloud, on premises option. What he discovered is that from a pure cost standpoint, even based on preferential pricing from Microsoft, EMC started to save money with a full EMC private cloud, on premises implementation at about 6,000-7,000 users, well short of the now 80,000 required. A couple of other limitations are that Microsoft provides a 3-9’s SLA as part of Office 365 yet EMC requires 4-9’s and the penalty to Microsoft for missing an SLA is minimal.
As we wrapped up our chat, he shared with me an architectural diagram of the current configuration, see below. The picture underlines a couple of the guiding principles of EMC IT today, simplify and automate. Today, all new infrastructures deployed by EMC IT uses VBLOCK platforms from VCE. This greatly simplifies life for IT through a single point of contact for support of the total platform as well as automating many traditional IT tasks and gives Wissam the freedom to think up more ways to innovate.
If you are EMC World, be sure to visit Microsoft kiosk at booth 1035. Also see the presentation on Wednesday, May 8 at 4pm in the Palazzo M, ‘Optimize Business Application Performance & Protection with EMC Solutions for Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and VMware.