Getting Inside the Microsoft/EMC Partnership

A great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the Microsoft space is to follow Sam Marraccini as he provides a fun perspective on what happens with EMC and Microsoft.

It’s a significant amount of work for one person to do his day job and produce informative videos on Microsoft infrastructure-related technology. Nice work Sam!

The video above you might find interesting – it’s a great discussion with Sam and John Hayden (a CTO in our Unified Division) that explores Microsoft’s ability to put applications like SQL Server or Hyper-V on top of filesystems based on SMB 2.2

EMC works hand in hand with Microsoft to make sure our storage platforms are compliant with SMB 2.2 for platforms like the VNX and Isilon platforms.

New Update to EMC Storage Integrator

If you're already familiar with EMC's Storage Integrator (ESI) than you know that it is a tool from EMC that simplifies management and provisioning of storage for Windows servers (I've posted a blog in the past showcasing how easy ESI is to use).

Using a series of wizards and a Microsoft Management Console plug-in (MMC), ESI can easily and quickly create new disks or storage LUNs, enable the new LUNs to be used with Microsoft clustering or even automatically deploy applications such as Microsoft SharePoint Server on the new drives – all within literally a matter of minutes!  It also provides reporting of storage subsystem details and the relationship back to the Windows servers.

And what's the best part? ESI is FREE for all users of EMC storage.

So what could possibly be done to make this product better? Our incredible development team has done this by adding support for Hyper-V, providing Powershell cmdlets for all ESI functions as well as SharePoint FileStream RBS support, rollback support (undo recent changes), native MPIO support in addition to EMC Powerpath and several UI enhancements.

But enough talk, a picture (or video) is worth a 1000 words as seen in this latest demo on Youtube.


With the addition of Hyper-V support, administrators can now connect to a host and report on the total number of Hyper-V virtual machines on that server and access details about the VMs such as status or state of the VM, which storage array it is connected to, the disk details including name and capacity details and the type of VM (pass through or VHD). From the ESI console you can choose to connect to the host or attach to the virtual disk. This information can be especially helpful if you have a large virtual environment or if your VMs move from one server to another using Live Migration or Quick Migration.

The enhanced UI adds additional functionality in the Create Disk wizard so that you now have a choice to create a SCSI disk on the server or a Virtual Hard Disk or Passthrough SCSI Disk for Hyper-V.

So if you are a current EMC customer or partner and you're not using ESI, than reach out to your EMC counterpart to get a copy (or download it directly from Powerlink). If you have feedback or ideas on the tool, feel free to post them here! We'll also continue to have more information available on the Everything Microsoft at EMC Community.

In other news, my friend and manager two different times at EMC (including most recently), Chad Sakac just received a promotion to run all of EMC Global presales. This is exciting news for EMC and for our entire technical community as Chad has endless amounts of energy and passion in everything he does. If you haven't followed his blog post, be sure to check out Virtual Geek to see his plans for helping to implement positive changes throughout the company. If you are a fan of EMC, than be happy with this move as I guarantee it is as a game changer for us. If you compete against EMC than good luck and I wish you well.

A New Year’s Wish List

Jim Shook

Jim Shook

Rather than trying to make predictions for 2012, which I tend to avoid, I thought it might be interesting to put together a short wish list of things that I hope for in 2012.  The usual suspects immediately sprang to mind:  that Legal and IT learn to effectively communicate; companies begin to defensibly delete their stale and legacy data, more eDiscovery moves in-house, etc.  Those all seemed to be a little much to absorb in January, so instead I put together a much more achievable “To Do” list with some additional resources to help.

Don’t Be Scared Of  “Archiving”

Despite surveys suggesting otherwise, our experience is that email remains the most important and painful eDiscovery repository in a company.  Email sprawl also creates operational costs and risks when it’s not properly managed.  Yet many legal departments either block or fail to assist the efforts of their IT counterparts when they decide to do something about email.  Many times, this failure is because they really do not understand email, or their understanding of an “archive” implies that they will be keeping everything forever.

In reality, modern archives enable companies to implement and enforce retention policies on email, which is a strong foundation to enable defensible deletion of email.  Better archives can also enable similar management of other content repositories, such as Sharepoint and fileshares.  A good archive, with associated policies, will improve and reduce the cost of operations, and make eDiscovery cheaper and easier.

Learn more:

Dive Into Machine Classification and Coding

Machine-based coding for document review is a hot topic.  We’re learning that in many cases, people just do not do a great job in reviewing and coding large volumes of information.  However, machines are built for this type of work because they are consistent, never tire and are cheaper than human review.  An open and shut case, right?

In reality, there remains a misunderstanding about how these technologies actually work, and how they can be successfully deployed and defended in a litigation matter.  Clearly they hold great promise, but there’s a lot of work to be done before they become mainstream.

Learn more:

Be Proactive With Social Media

Many companies are using different types of “social media” to more effectively and rapidly reach their customers, partners and even their own employees.  Technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, wikis and blogs are being used daily, and it’s likely we’ll see some even newer technologies develop in 2012.

Yet social media is not a free ride.  Gartner’s Debra Logan predicted a year ago that by YE 2013, half of all companies will have produced social media content in response to an eDiscovery request.  But today, most companies do not have policies to regulate social media content, nor do they have much of an idea on how they might preserve and collect that ESI in response to a regulatory or litigation matter.

Learn more:

Understand “The Cloud”

Ahhh, the Cloud.   Depending on your vantage point, Cloud Computing may be the answer to every issue you have or the most overhyped idea since push computing in the 90s.  The IT department is attracted to the cloud’s operational efficiencies and flexibility, and the business enjoys the rapid rate of deployment.

But don’t dive in without being informed.  “Cloud Computing” is actually an umbrella term representing a number of different deployment and service models.  Operational and cost benefits found with cloud computing should be weighed against the loss of control that comes with those deployments.  In some cases, that’s an easy trade-off.  In others, particularly where compliance is concerned, it can be more difficult.  Even in tougher cases, better informed teams might be able to get the best of both worlds by leveraging private or hybrid cloud deployments.

Introducing EMC’s mSpecialist Program

Last month we unveiled a new program within EMC to recognize and reward our top contributors who specialize in Microsoft technologies. This new program, called mSpecialists is aimed at creating a community of highly specialized and highly motivated technologists who are passionate about Microsoft technologies.

For people who are familiar with EMC's Microsoft Community, we have a large group of existing resources who are already focused on Microsoft technologies and are recognized Microsoft experts both within the company and in the industry. So why create this new program? What the mSpecialist program will do is create a way to recognize these specialists and to better connect them to help share information among our Subject Matter Experts as well as extend this to our customers and partners. What is unique about the mSpecialist program is that we aren't limiting this to just EMC employees; this program will be open to our partners, resellers and other resources who help to promote and support EMC and Microsoft technology solutions.

So what makes an mSpecialist?

There are several attributes that help define an mSpecialist but the easiest way to define it is anyone who is helping to improve the company, the community and our customers by sharing information, educating others and developing new tools or solutions. In other words someone who is giving more than they are asking. Similar to Microsoft's MVP program in which Subject Matter Experts in their respective communities are sharing information to help educate others and are often the first to respond to questions or requests for help on specific, EMC's mSpecialists will include people who blog about technologies to help educate others around them or respond to questions posted on the Everything Microsoft at EMC Community.

So what does an mSpecialist get in return for their efforts? In addition to helping our customers, partners and fellow technologists better understand EMC and Microsoft's deep integration and joint solutions, there are several additional benefits for their participation. A sample of benefits include:

  • Invitation to yearly gathering with special access to resources and roadmaps and hands-on labs on Microsoft and EMC technologies.
  • Ongoing series of meetings with EMC solution and product teams to help bring field requests to influence EMC Corporate roadmaps.
  • Webcasts with Microsoft product teams to learn of ongoing product developments and to discuss customer trends and requests.
  • On the spot rewards for outstanding achievers (in December we gave out 20 different prizes including tablets, network storage devices and SSD hard drives).
  • Passes to industry events.
  • Advance access to EMC beta code.

Interested? To become an mSpecialist you need to be recognized by someone on my team as an active participant in the community. To start, use the Everything Microsoft at EMC Community to blog, post information, share data and ask\answer questions. We will be looking for people who go above and beyond to help make others around them and the community as a whole better! Other things include creating demos or tools, sharing references, volunteering to help and being socially active. As they say Cream Rises to the Top!

To learn more, check out Sam's Inside the Partnership (an example of someone going above and beyond!) interview and overview of this program and our recent EMC Microsoft Specialist gathering!