EMC data architecture delivers business value

With six architectural initiatives, EMC modernized its strategic systems, delivered data self-service, and eliminated data silos.

“We are enabling the business to work at their desired velocity by delivering carefully prepared data from many sources in a form that is easily consumed by our business users,”

—KK Krishnakumar, vice president and chief IT architect, EMC

EMC was once solely a storage hardware vendor. But in recent years, the company has transformed into a provider of cloud and information products and services. These include storage, data protection, and infrastructure management.

Growing quickly through 70 mergers and acquisitions, EMC found that its extended enterprise of siloed data and hundreds of stand-alone systems was not serving its needs. So, the company undertook another ambitious business transformation, this time focusing on redesigning its data architecture.

The company worked to break down the silos and make data universally available. Also, EMC strengthened its formal data governance program across the company, ensuring the delivery of trustworthy data. Ultimately, EMC turned data into a big competitive advantage.

Third-generation data architecture

EMC launched six simultaneous, and massive, initiatives to meet the business needs of a modernized data architecture: Improve IT’s agility to deliver business value and use data to drive innovation. The culmination of these efforts is a third-generation data architecture that makes clean and trustworthy data available to everyone for analysis.

EMC’s Enterprise Information Management (EIM) platform includes platform applications with cloud optimization and social, mobile, and predictive technologies. EIM enables the IT organization to rapidly deliver business outcomes. It also allows EMC to deliver better, more valuable products and services to its customers.

Enabling the business to work how they want to work

The EIM is much more than a series of architectural initiatives. Data is professionally managed by IT and made available for self-service to the business for analytics. “We are enabling the business to work at their desired velocity by delivering carefully prepared data from many sources in a form that is easily consumed by our business users,” says KK Krishnakumar, vice president and chief IT architect, EMC.

Six key initiatives make up the core of EMC’s transformative EIM platform architecture:

  1. New core systems: EMC retired 65 legacy systems. It then migrated the entire global business to one instance of 20 SAP modules that handle more than 300 sites. Along with SAP, EMC adopted a strict policy of no customization. Although this will make future upgrades easier and faster to complete, it requires changes to current business processes.
  2. Data services initiative and architecture: To support the new systems and analytical end users, EMC moved to a data services architecture that decouples data from applications. This makes the company far more flexible and adaptable to new applications and business initiatives. This architecture includes master data management tools to manage and share strategic data.
  3. Big data platform: EMC also built a flexible big data platform for running planning analytics, text analytics, and predictive analytics across the company. This architecture allows EMC to capture and consolidate data, make it accessible by all in-house analysts, and make it available to business processes company-wide.
  4. Application integration cloud: EMC moved all of its core business applications, including ERP, CRM, data warehouse, and both legacy and new applications, to its cloud architecture. This approach makes it easy to integrate and sync data across all of these applications, while also providing the usual benefits of cloud computing.
  5. Business analytics as a service: With this initiative, EMC will enhance the business end-user experience with a business-friendly glossary of terms, reports, and assets. There will also be search and navigation tools to help users find the right data.
  6. Business data lake: This initiative consolidates all of EMC's relevant structured, unstructured, batch, and real-time data into one data lake. It is a persistent data layer that collects, discovers, refines, governs, securely shares, and controls all data assets and feeds.

With big data at the heart of EMC’s vast business transformation, the data architecture overhaul made the company more responsive to the needs of the business. The overhaul also made it more competitive in the marketplace. And the company is now able to deliver new business initiatives more quickly and use their data to drive business value delivery.

Efforts are underway to support the adoption of Enterprise Information Management as a business function by establishing an open industry reference architecture to protect and optimize the business value derived from data assets.

For more on this consortium, read “Do we really need another information framework?

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