Bullet-point Brief: Michael Sharun, EMC Canada

Michael Sharun’s been responsible for EMC Canada since January 2007, and spent the seven years before that serving as a district manager in the outfit’s Calgary office. But in the years before that, Sharun toiled for Oracle and SAP, giving him what he calls “a strong software bent.”

It’s a good thing, too. Sharun joined a company that was “90 per cent hardware,” but that’s had to evolve to a more balanced revenue mix over the last half a decade. Sharun outlined some of the trends he’s seeing in the Canadian technology market in an exclusive interview with Network World Canada.

* About that revenue mix: It’s now about 42 per cent systems, 40 per cent software licensing and 19 per cent services. A big contributor to the software pile is replication software. Two of the biggest focuses for the enterprise in the IT department – business continuity and virtualization – are dependent on replication software.

* On the virtualization front, Canadian businesses are keeping pace with their colleagues across the border. “It’s consistent with what we’re seeing across North America,” Sharun said. Most organizations are coming out of the testing and development phase of their virtualization projects and are about to go live in their production environments, he said. “We’re on that hockey stick where we’re going to see deeper penetration” of virtualization in the enterprise, he said.

* But Canadian firms are just waking up to the potential of backup to disk, Sharun said. “I’m not sure why it took Canada longer to adopt,” he said. Canadian companies as a rule tend to be more cautious and analytical about embracing new technologies, he said. “I think it’s just part of our nature.

There are a number of factors encouraging the backup to disk market. The cost of storage, maintenance and travel of tape media is a burden, and nobody wants to be the next in the news to be busted for losing a bunch of tapes with personal information on them.

But it’s the speed and reliability of recovery that’s really driving the market, with applications and data that have to be available 24/7. The basic backup to disk strategy is: put a virtual tape library on a primary site, choose a regular window to de-duplicate the data, reducing the necessary bandwidth, then replicate the data to the remote sites.

It’s a quick win for companies, with immediate payoff in cost avoidance and better performance against service level agreements, he says.

* Integration of security into the infrastructure is also top of mind for enterprise IT, Sharun said. “It’s a compliance and audit issue,” he said – companies have to be able to easily demonstrate the chain of custody of their data.

* Organizations are also wrestling with an ongoing explosion of content. Content is growing by 60 per cent annually, and more and more of that data is unstructured, making it difficult to catalogue. And while 70 per cent of content is produced by individuals, enterprises are still responsible for 85 per cent of that individually created content, Sharun said. The effort to catalogue and make that information available is an enterprise-wide initiative, with sponsorship coming from upper management. “It’s a quickly accelerating area of IT,” Sharun said.

Content management has to take place within the end-user toolset that exists. “The user experience is not changing,” he said. Content management has to take lace between the vast reservoir of data and the customary user tools, like office suite products. “People are not being asked to use a new interface or toolset,” he said.

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