CIOs struggle with
growing data problem

26 Apr 2006

BOSTON: A mere 20pc of information contained on enterprise servers is structured data; the rest of it is unmanaged and unused, such as content on email and websites, the head of EMC’s software division Dave DeWalt warned this week. He said the problem is worsening due to regulatory compliance costs and the fact that unstructured information in the enterprise is growing at a compound rate of 60pc each year.

“This presents major challenges for companies today, who ask: ‘How do we manage that? What do we know about this data except who created it?’ For firms with information assets and an information infrastructure this poses a major opportunity and a challenge. The challenge is compounded by the multiple technology stacks companies employ ranging from SAP systems to email systems,” DeWalt told the annual EMC conference in Boston.

DeWalt said that managing the information lifecycle rather than just storing data is now EMC’s core mission. He revealed that the company is planning to embark on providing solutions to ensure CIOs can manage data contained on multiple IT environments by selling middleware and web services products, particularly software based on services-oriented architecture (SOA).

“We are focusing on managing information through the lifecycle — ensuring that CIOs can maximum value out of information at the lowest total cost of ownership.”

Information anxiety and knowing how to derive information from existing assets is being compounded by the growing demands regulatory regimes such as Sarbanes Oxley place on firms to retain and archive data, DeWalt said.

He illustrated his point by saying: “Last night I created a PowerPoint presentation but I will have to keep that around on a server or network somewhere for regulatory purposes.”

He said that for firms with enterprise-wide infrastructures that employ email, SAP, web portals and websites and Oracle databases the challenge is immense.

He added that EMC’s US$4.5bn worth of acquisitions in recent years of companies such as Documentum, Legato, Smarts and VMWare are helping EMC to innovate and provide products to businesses that support them in meeting these challenges. “Firms are faced with mounting compliance and integration costs. The biggest part of our strategy is managing the information. We aim to do this by creating common backup and recovery technologies, retention policies and intelligent enterprise-wide archiving systems.”

DeWalt confirmed an earlier observation by CEO Joe Tucci that EMC is becoming less and less a hardware company and increasingly a software and services business. “More than 50pc of EMC’s business now comes from software and services. Hardware systems represent 46pc of our business, software is 37pc and services are 17pc of our business.

“The software division reported its first US$1bn quarter at the end of last year. For the total of 2005 the division reported revenues of US$3.5bn. It is now the seventh-largest software company in the world,” DeWalt said.

By John Kennedy