EMC’s Comeback in Server-Side Memory: Q&A with Pat Gelsinger

2/7/12Follow @wroush

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make us database experts. We are having to build and expand our capabilities in that space, with new partnership, et cetera. We grew greater than 300 percent in the Greenplum business in the last year, so it’s a pretty heavy growth area. And have clearly set a very aggressive cadence for the expansion of our strategy. We acquired the company and 90 days later we announced our first appliance. We delivered our first Hadoop distribution shortly thereafter. In November we introduced the unified analytics platform. I like to call it the integration of Facebook, Google, and Amazon for enterprise big-data analytics.

What do I mean by that? Google operates at full Internet scale and almost real time. With today’s data warehouses you put in a query on Friday and you wait until Monday morning to get an answer. We believe you put in a query and you want a response in 200 milliseconds. So it has to be interactive like Google. And operate not on subsets of data but the full data. It has to be like Facebook in the sense that as these data sets get to be so big, you have to enable people to collaborate on them. I might be able to give you a separate copy of a 6-terabyte database, but if I have 100 petabytes I can’t give you your separate copy to go play with. It has to become a collaborative environment. And we think the killer app becomes predictive big-data analytics. It’s this idea of Amazon saying “You might also like…” It’s being able to make real-time, current, collaborative predictions about what the next thing or the important thing would be. We think in terms of that, we’re doing very well. People are giving us full credit. I saw an article just this morning. Who are the two corporate leaders in terms of Hadoop? IBM and EMC.

X: Did you feel like you had to acquire a Greenplum in order to become experts in the hot database markets of the future?

PG: Yes. We didn’t have those genes ourselves. We looked across the industry, and this was a call I made personally. I saw the Greenplum guys as having the right cultural environment to join EMC, having the best technology—scale out, shared nothing—and we are in a very hot position in the industry, so we’re quite excited.

X: What about Isilon?

PG: Isilon is scale-out storage environments. It’s basically been very successful in media, oil and gas, genomics, medical, et cetera. Now we’re expanding into enterprise use cases, where the EMC sales force is very strong. We’re also doing more to integrate it. The examples of that would be, two weeks ago we announced Hadoop support of Isilon, so we’re integrating Greenplum Hadoop directly into Isilon arrays. Today what happens is, imagine you are using Hadoop to filter Twitter and Facebook and all this stuff and landing it into your Hadoop distributed file system environment and you want to combine it with customer record data. How do I cross the structured to unstructured worlds? The only way now is to copy it into some structured analytic environment. Now what we just did is we said, you don’t need to do that. The best way to land your Hadoop data is the best way to land your structured data. We’re going to run our Hadoop Greenplum analytics directly off the array. That’s an example of tying together our big data assets. I think

X: Speaking for the Boston entrepreneurial community—which Xconomy is part of—EMC is sometimes seen as a bit distant, quiet, and uninvolved. What do you think EMC’s role should be in supporting the community of startups and entrepreneurs in Boston?

PG: I don’t feel like EMC does enough in that respect, period. It’s not a Boston statement, or a Bay Area statement, or a Tel Aviv or Shanghai statement. So we have initiated EMC Ventures—-we had been doing venture investing for a decade, but we formed EMC Ventures a year ago so that we could have a more structured engagement with the venture community. We are also formalizing our university research program as well, so that we have structured engagements with the Stanfords, Berkeleys, MITs, Harvards, and UWs. You will see us do more in a systematic, structured way in those innovation communities.

At the opening of a research center at the Technion in Israel recently, I gave a speech about the “golden triangle” of innovation. A company that can successfully operate across the three corners of this triangle—the venture community, the corporate community, and the university community—will have sustained innovation.

X: But what about the startup community? Are you saying entrepreneurs will start to bump into EMC people more often?

PG: The simple answer is yes. And with that, we are doing more new college graduate hiring. EMC had been drifting toward hiring more experienced people versus a mix. We are also expanding our internship programs significantly. My view of interns is that you should have an aggressive program, pay them pennies, work them like dogs, and then hire the good ones. Your rate of success when you hire interns is much better, and you can be much more selective. So we are strengthening internships and partnerships and ventures, on a global basis but all of that applies in Massachusetts as well.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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