Putting a Face on Big Data

Big Data is one of those industry buzz words that a lot of people talk about but what does it really mean?? Big Data is in everything we do including data collected about our buying habits, our online profiles and what we search for or where we've been. Many companies use this information to customize coupons, websites and other things tailored to our buying habits but what does this data mean to us? What do we look like when we put a face to big data? There is an effort currently underway called the Human Face of Big Data and it is a project that has been sponsored by EMC and others to help collect information about people to better understand how we live and how what we do compares to each other. The study will collect information from participants about all sorts of information such as how you wake up, how long your commute is, your sleeping patterns, your likes, your family and much more. With this information you can see how your day to day life compares to others or maybe even find someone else in the world who is exactly like you! That's the Face of Big Data.   How do you participate? Go to Human Face of Big Data and download the smartphone app. On October 2nd you will can answer the questions in the human survey and be part of a global study on humans and help put a face on Big Data!  

Attend the Webcast: Building the Right Infrastructure for SharePoint

Date / Time:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
11:00am ET / 8:00am PT



Are you getting the most from your investment in Microsoft SharePoint? Most companies are underutilizing this valuable technology asset. Discover how you can connect people to needed information and maximize your SharePoint investment with solutions from EMC and Metalogix. Plus, hear from a solutions architect about an actual customer deployment.


Registration Link:


EMC Announces Broad Support for Windows Server 2012

Earlier this month I blogged about the launch of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and some of the new features that are relevant to the storage industry. Windows Server 2012 has many enhancements that help bring storage concepts natively to Windows users as well as offering the ability for SAN storage to leverage these new features to provide additional benefits to the customer (ODX for example).

Following up on this new product launch, EMC issued a press release last week announcing broad support for Windows Server 2012, demonstrating EMC's continued leadership in the marketplace for supporting and integrating with Microsoft technologies! So what does this new support include?

  • Support for Windows Server 2012 across EMC's hardware and software portfolio within 90 days of general availability of Microsoft's operating system.

This may not sound like much, but it is BIG. EMC has a deep portfolio of products from our hardware arrays, data de-duplication appliances, data recovery appliances and lots of software such as Powerpath, Networker, Replication Manager and ESI (EMC's free easy to use storage provisioning tool for Windows administrators) which can be difficult keeping all of these products up to date with the latest and greatest partner technologies. While EMC is part of Microsoft's Technology Adoption Program (TAP) which gives us early access to Microsoft's software, we are testing with pre-released software and need to continually re-test and validate once Windows Server is generally available (or "GA") so that we can use the same software code that is available to customers. There is a lot of work involved and the credit goes to many engineers who work hard to make this happen!

  • Optimized Microsoft Private Cloud Deployments with EMC Global Services.

I find many customers who either didn't know that EMC has a Microsoft Consulting practice or they didn't realize what our Consulting Services organization is capable of. Several years ago EMC acquired several large Microsoft Consulting organizations to give us a large number of skilled consultants who are often recognized as some of the best talented Microsoft resources in the industry. These include consultants who speak at large events, who have multiple certifications including Microsoft MVPs and others and people who have experience designing and deploying some of the most complex Microsoft related projects in the world!

What does this have to do with Windows Server 2012? Our Global Services organization can conduct assessments and strategy sessions to help companies who are considering a move to Windows 2012 or want to deploy a Microsoft Private Cloud based on Hyper-V and System Center. For those customers who need help actually deploying these new technologies and migrating data, EMC Global Services can help with that too. EMC Consultants have been working with Windows 2012 technologies since pre-release and will be able to bring proven experience to those customers who are eager to deploy new technology.

  • Support for Microsoft's Private Cloud Fast Track Version 3 program.

As part of the Microsoft Windows 2012 release, Microsoft has updated their Private Cloud Fast Track program now supporting Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Hyper-V 2012! Microsoft's Private Cloud Fast Track program provides customers with a pre-built validated Private Cloud solution built on Microsoft and partner technologies (such as EMC & Cisco) and even includes services so that the new Private Cloud solution can be delivered and deployed without any involvement from the end-user. The solution includes all of the software, scripts and architecture documents needed to be fully functional from Day 1.

EMC worked with Microsoft to release two Private Cloud Fast Track solutions based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and we are excited to continue to work with Microsoft to release another one based on these new technologies! What makes this solution different from the others (in addition to Windows Server 2012 software)? This Private Cloud Fast Track is designed for the Small & Mid-Market space and uses EMC's VNXe 3300 with 4 Cisco UCS C220 M3 servers. It is the perfect sized solution for customers who are just starting to deploy Private Cloud solutions or looking for remote office locations. What makes this particular solution different for EMC is it also is part of our VSPEX offering which is EMC's program for our partners allowing our channel to pick the best in breed of server, networking and storage technologies to create bundled offerings that are best for our customers! Stay tuned for more information as I'll be blogging more about this new Private Cloud Fast Track solution soon!

So WOW! This is just the start of the Windows Server 2012 launch and EMC is already announcing support across our product line, creating new Private Cloud Fast Track offerings and already working with customers with our services organization to help customers design and deploy these new technologies! For regular updates on our support and integration with Windows Server 2012, be sure to check out our dedicated product page on the Everything Microsoft at EMC Community and we will be announcing a new webcast series shortly where you can join industry leaders and EMC engineers to learn more about our support for Windows Server 2012 and interact with EMC's top Microsoft Specialists!

EMC Announces New VSPEX Private Cloud and Broad Technology Support for Windows Server 2012

Today is an exciting time for EMC!   With this announcement, EMC is now delivering support across our technology portfolio and helping customers transform their Microsoft IT environments to Windows Server 2012, simplifying cloud management and maximizing quality of service.


A quick summary of what EMC announced:


  • New EMC VSPEX Private Cloud for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V Fast Track Edition, available exclusively through our partners, designed to accelerate the journey to cloud computing
  • Broad storage platform support of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 to optimize performance and scalability of transactional and “big data” applications
  • Self-service cloud management capabilities to empower Microsoft administrators with visibility and control of underlying storage infrastructure resources
  • Maximized quality of service through enhanced data protection and security across Microsoft application workloads in the cloud


With this announcement, EMC is offering a robust set of technologies, solutions and services spanning storage, automated management, replication, backup and security that will be ready within 90 days of Microsoft general availability for Microsoft Windows Server 2012.  This breadth of support will enable customers to leverage best in class EMC technology and expertise with Windows Server 2012 functionality to deploy cloud infrastructures to meet changing business requirements; minimize downtime and maximize cost efficiencies, thus allowing customers to confidently protect and secure their Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and Private Cloud environments.


So what does this mean for customers?…..EMC is now offering Windows Server 2012 customers the power to choose the most appropriate storage technology including VNX, VMAX and Isilon, to support their unique requirements…. And also has expanded VSPEX support to include Windows Server 2012.


  • The EMC VSPEX Private Cloud for Hyper-V Fast Track Edition, available today exclusively through EMC’s channel Partners, is designed to accelerate the journey to cloud computing.   EMC VSPEX Private Cloud for Hyper-V Fast Track Edition is designed to deliver predictable performance and significantly reduce the planning, sizing and configuration burdens of adopting private cloud or end-user computing environments. Built on EMC’s award-winning VNXe™ unified storage system, Cisco UCS Server -and Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Hyper-V, this VSPEX configuration allows customers to simplify deployment, improve operational efficiency, and significantly lower management costs.   


  • EMC VNX support for Microsoft Server 2012 is optimized for virtualizedapplications over both block and file protocols.  The VNX series is designed to take advantage of the latest innovation in Flash drive technology, maximizing the storage system’s performance and efficiency while minimizing cost per GB.
  • EMC VMAX support for Microsoft Server 2012 enables customers to take advantage of the superior high capacity,
    availability and scalability replication, and tiering functionality offered by Symmetrix for Microsoft Private Cloud environments.  This expanded support enables customers to confidently consolidated, virtualize and transform mission critical applications to a cloud environment.


  • EMC’s industry leading Isilon scale-out NAS solutions have long set the standard for addressing the challenges of managing large, rapidly growing file-based and unstructured data environments. EMC extends this leadership position with support for Windows Server 2012 enabling customers the ability to address the challenges of large-scale and rapidly growing virtualized file stores by providing a highly scalable, available, and easily managed network attached storage (NAS) solution designed to consolidate services.


  • With support for Windows Server 2012, EMC VFCache and EMC Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST), will help customers’ dynamically tune Windows Server 2012 environments to meet optimal performance and cost requirements of virtualized applications and Private Cloud environments.
  • EMC PowerPath gives Windows Server 2012 users higher performance and availability by optimizing I/O paths and by providing automated path management and failover.


EMC’s expanded support enables customers to leverage the powerful benefits of an EMC infrastructure in conjunction with the latest functionality in Windows Server 2012 (including Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0, Off Load Data Transfer (ODX) and Thin provisioning) to increase utilization and ROI of both investments in software and infrastructure by:

  • Highly available and high performing EMC SANs improve application deployments utilizing Windows file shares
  • Accelerating and optimizing the storage utilization by offloading common resource intensive activities, such as file copy operations to storage arrays.
  • Optimizing storage utilization to ensure that storage allocations are released when no longer required by the application or host.



Self-Service Cloud Management Increases Productivity


EMC has also expanded Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft System Center support for EMC Storage Integrator (ESI), EMC App Sync, EMC Solutions Enabler and EMC SMI-S Provider management tools, allowing EMC and Microsoft customers to simplify management and empower more self-service automation in the Private Cloud.  EMC has made it much easier for Application and Windows Administrators to provision, replicate and manage storage infrastructure.   EMC’s investments also ensure Windows and Application Administrators the ability to leverage tools they already know to increase productivity.


  • Expanded EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Windows Server 2012 enables Windows administrators more autonomy and self-service management of storage provisioning in physical and virtual environments by simplifying the mapping and provisioning of storage for an application using simple, wizard-based steps or through PowerShell capabilities for the Windows Server 2012 platform.
  • Expanded EMC AppSync™ support for Windows Server 2012 offers a simple, self-service SLA-driven approach for protecting virtualized Microsoft applications in VNX deployments. After defining service plans (i.e. Gold, Silver, Bronze), application owners can protect production data and recover data quickly with item-level granularity. AppSync also provides an application protection monitoring service that generates alerts when the SLAs are not met.


  • EMC storage will also integrate with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 and Windows Server 2012 using EMC Solution Enabler and EMC’s support for SMI-S in a Windows Server 2012 environment.   This integration with SCVMM allows Windows Administrators to discover and provision EMC storage. EMC support will also extend to enable command line access and easy scripting of many common storage tasks using Windows PowerShell and can also be used with the newly enhanced File and Storage Services role in Windows Server 2012 Server Manager.


Maximize Cloud Quality Of Service with Data Protection And Security


And the good news continues …. EMC also announced broad data protection and security support for Windows Server 2012 including EMC Avamar, EMC NetWorker, EMC Data Domain, EMC RecoverPoint and RSA NetWitness – ensuring that EMC and Microsoft customers can confidently deploy a centralized cloud infrastructure:


  • EMC Avamar supports Windows Server 2012 and Windows applications, in both virtual and physical environments, enabling fast, efficient backup and recovery through a complete software and hardware solution. Equipped with integrated deduplication technology, Avamar reduces backup time and network traffic by only storing unique data changes, while always maintaining full, backup images for rapid, single-step restore.
  • EMC Networker  backup and recovery software centralizes, automates, and accelerates data backup and recovery across IT environments to deliver optimal performance and a wide range of data protection options to safeguard critical business data, enabling  Microsoft Application Owners and Windows Administrators to simplify backup across applications and utilize a common management interface for centralized control and easier backup management.
  • EMC Data Domain deduplication storage systems complete backups faster for data and applications running on Windows Server 2012 and also lower the cost of backup by reducing the amount of disk storage needed to retain and protect data by 10-30x.
  • EMC RecoverPoint provides a single solution that provides continuous data protection with multiple recovery points that lets Microsoft Application Owners and Windows Administrators recover and restart applications running in Windows Server 2012 environments instantly to a specific point in time.  Additionally, RecoverPoint enables Windows and Application administrators the ability to protect Microsoft applications with bi-directional synchronous and asynchronous replication and DVR-like recovery in physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures.
  • EMC Data Protection Advisor provides detailed analysis and reporting for backup and recovery environments reducing complexity, allowing Microsoft administrators the ability to manage service levels and monitor backup performance across EMC and non-EMC backup environments.


  • With RSA NetWitness support for Windows Server 2012, EMC and Microsoft customers are able to improve trust in their organizations IT systems and Cloud by deploying a security analytics system that improves detection, investigation, and remediation of security threats on the organization’s network and systems.  RSA NetWitness provides EMC and Microsoft customers with enterprise wide situational awareness that provides comprehensive enterprise visibility by collecting and analyzing network sessions, log data, and real time threat intelligence. This enables organizations to better detect and respond to advanced threats, malware, and other security threats.


 I encourage you to check back to see more blogs and information on our support for Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Private Cloud. We will be publishing a lot of technical information over the next few weeks and months.  I also encourage you to join our ECN community:   http://Everything Microsoft @ EMC


Additional Resources



Windows Server 2012: The Storage OS

On Tuesday Microsoft released Windows Server 2012, the latest version of their server based operating system which is also being called the "Cloud OS" by Microsoft. Why the Cloud OS? Because the scalability, performance and flexibility enhancements found in Windows 2012 are core components for cloud computing. Well that and the significant improvements to Hyper-V probably have something to do with it as well. But I think they just as easily could have called it the Storage OS. As Microsoft themselves state on their Server and Cloud Platform website "Storage plays a critical role in cloud and datacenter services." It goes on to state "Whether you have cost-effective industry standard hardware or high-end Storage Area Network for the most demanding workloads, Windows Server 2012 provides you with a rich set of features that will help you maximize the returns from your storage investments." So what are these features that are important the use of storage in a Windows Server 2012 environment? For starters, Microsoft has introduced Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX). When using storage arrays, ODX offloads tasks that would usually be handled locally on the server or over the network and uses the power of the storage array to perform these tasks. For instance, migrating a virtual machine between servers or copying large files between files, these operations are offloaded to the array and can be completed in much faster times. At Microsoft TechEd 2012, Microsoft demonstrated in their keynote how they could transfer a 10GB file in 10 seconds using ODX on an EMC VNX array. To do this, Microsoft uses a token that is copied between the source and destination which represents the data at that point in time. This eliminates the need for copying data between the servers and speeds up the process considerably! How do you configure this? You don't need to, if you are using Windows Server 2012 and an array that supports Windows Server 2012 such as EMC's VNX array (using versions supported with Windows Server 2012) then you will be able to take advantage of ODX. The SMB protocol is another area where Microsoft has made major enhancements in Windows Server 2012. There are many new features and enhancements such as:
  • Hyper-V and SQL Server support over SMB. In my opinion this is pretty big and it hasn't received the amount of attention that I would have expected. Previously you had to use block access storage such as iSCSI, Fibre Channel or direct access storage to run these workloads which came with some limitations. Given the fact that VMware has always supported VM access of NFS, the requirement for block access with Hyper-V was seen as a reason for being inferior to Vmware. Allowing these workloads to operate over SMB will make sense for certain workloads, for certain scenarios (small business or remote office) and will just be an easier option for some.
  • Transparent Failover or the ability to fail over SMB file shares between cluster nodes without disruption to the running workloads. Another way to put this is it is high availability for your file shares. Transparent Failover does require Microsoft clustering and the server nodes will need to be running Windows Server 2012 for the updated SMB client.
  • VSS for Remote File Shares provides data protection for SQL Server, Hyper-V and other workloads that are running over SMB. Simply put, VSS for Remote File Shares is application consistent backup and restore of these data types on SMB file shares. Very cool.
  • Scale Out File Server uses Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) to allow multiple clients to access the same data. With CSVs and Scale Out File Servers, a client can access a share across any server in the cluster providing load balancing and making it easier for a client to access information.
And finally the changes found in Hyper-V are pretty astounding. Microsoft made significant improvements to just about every feature in Hyper-V including:
  • Increasing the logical processors from 64 to 320!
  • Increasing physical memory from 1TB to 4TB.
  • Doubling the number of virtual processors per host form 512 to 1,024.
  • Increasing the number of virtual processors per VM from 4 to 64, an increase of 16x!
  • Allowing for up to 1024 active VMs (from 384 previously).
  • Increasing the virtual disk size from 2TB to 64TB!
  • And supporting 64 nodes in a cluster (up from 16) with up to 4000 VMs in a cluster (up from 1000)!
Clearly Microsoft is focused on the Enterprise and high-end Enterprise with these improvements. Add in the ability to run Hyper-V over SMB, Hyper-V replica (asynchronous replication of VMs over IP networks), virtual fibre channel ports within Hyper-V, new VHDX disk format, Remote VSS for remote VSS based backups of VMs, and ODX to offload Hyper-V operations such as rapid deployment of new VMs – this is more like a new product than just a simple upgrade. And that is just a few of the new features that I had time to focus on today! In upcoming articles we'll focus on more of the features of Windows Server 2012, dive deeper into some of the features I touched on today and discuss scenarios for using these features along with EMC's continued support and integration with Windows Server 2012, Microsoft's Cloud Storage OS!