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EMC: Information glut will change what storage looks like

There’s a lot of data out there, and there’s going to be even more in the future, and businesses need to figure out better ways to use and deliver it because the always-connected “information generation” of digital customers will increasingly expect to have it at their fingertips.

That’s the upshot of a report, entitled “The Information Generation: Transforming the Future, Today,” that EMC released today. The storage giant tapped the Institute for the Future to create a global study to identify and forecast the top “business imperatives” for the next decade. The Institute consulted more than 40 “influential global decision-makers and experts” across multiple industries and passed the baton to Vanson Bourne to survey 3,600 business leaders from 18 countries.

Half or more of the survey’s 3,600 “director and C-Suite” respondents said their customers want access to services faster than ever, 24/7 access and connectivity, and access on an increasing number of multi-channel platforms. Vanson Bourne didn’t survey any of their customers to see what they expect.

The six “attributes for success” the report identified – and only 22% to 31% of the business leaders said they’re addressing “extremely well” – are:

1) Predictively spot new opportunities in markets
2) Demonstrate transparency and trust
3) Innovate in agile ways
4) Deliver unique and personalized experiences
5) Operate in real time
6) Pursue continuous learning

While the report’s findings may not be so revelatory, they will undoubtedly set the stage for the presentations and announcements at EMC World during the first week of May in Las Vegas.

“We’re big into information. So, the more information that’s out there, the more information that needs to be stored and managed and analyzed,” said Jeremy Burton, president of products and marketing at EMC, when asked how the report’s findings tie into the company’s grand plan. “But I think over time, the unit cost of managing information today is several orders of magnitude less than it was 10 years ago. And in the future, it will be several orders of magnitude less again.”

Burton said the architecture of next-generation distributed applications will differ from the traditional architecture of applications such as SAP and Oracle, and the new apps will “much more happily run on commodity infrastructure.” He said the value that EMC can bring increasingly will extend into areas such as building applications and analyzing data, through the company’s Pivotal startup (in which GE is an investor), and securing information, through the company’s RSA acquisition.

EMC’s product direction also includes the upcoming server-based DSSD flash to handle the ultra-fast processing required by the new wave of in-memory databases and analytics applications. Burton said, after processing, the data will dump off to software-defined object stores that can run on cheap commodity hardware.

The company knows it has to compete on price with public cloud behemoths such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft and offer a compelling alternative for the do-it-yourselfers testing the open source waters. Burton claimed EMC has one exabyte-scale customer that paid about 30% less than it would have spent with Amazon Web Services, and he predicted many more exabyte-scale customers in the future.

“You’re going to see a lot of interesting things this year that EMC five years ago never would have done,” said Burton.

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