The Origins of eCDM

EMC recently announced Enterprise Copy Data Management (eCDM), a product that enables global management and monitoring of copy data across primary and protection storage. Perhaps just as interesting as the product itself is the way that the product was conceived, designed, developed, and taken to market. Like the trailblazers of the west, the engineering team behind eCDM was faced with the daunting challenge of exploring uncharted territory. The team created a product from scratch using agile methodologies, open source technology, a brand new UI, and an entirely custom go-to-market strategy.

This is the first post in a series of posts that will detail the challenges and successes of the product team from conception to release.

John sat at his desk with a pen and an 11”x17” sheet of paper, outlining quadrants for each of the topics that I suggested we discuss. He was a software engineer after all, and he was approaching this interview with the same comprehensiveness that would be expected when designing feature specifications for a product. However, John is no ordinary software engineer – he is the chief architect for the eCDM v1.0 release, and he’s been working on this concept for years.

Nearly 7 years ago, EMC sponsored the ideation of next generation data protection concepts. John participated in the conception of “objective based management” – managing data copies based on what you want the outcome to be rather than what you need to do to produce a desired outcome.

For example, when a backup administrator needs to meet SLAs that require one copy of production on primary storage, one copy on protection storage updated every 24 hours, and another copy in the cloud updated every week, the backup administrator will configure their backup application to create copies to align with the SLA. However, with objective based management, the backup administrator would provide the SLA to the software and the software would configure and automate the necessary operations to meet the SLA. While the concept is simple, it fundamentally shifts the way that traditional backup software is designed and used.

“There is a difference between performing protection and knowing that you’re protected,” John explained to me while discussing the benefits of eCDM and objective based management. When a backup administrator performs a backup, they are simply confirming that their backup application completed a protection action. For example, if a backup application backs up their production data to protection storage, the application will flash a happy green. They’re protected now, right? What if something happens to that copy on the protection storage, though? The backup application doesn’t actively monitor protection copies; it simply provides an interface to perform and report on backup actions.

eCDM does not simply perform protection actions, it enables users to know that they are protected. In addition, the objective-based management model has implications beyond traditional backup and recovery. As the use cases for copies expand and application self-service grows in popularity, the need for a global interface to enable automated compliance and governance has risen. After designing a service plan, eCDM monitors and automates compliance operations to ensure that copies are meeting SLAs. It provides much more insight than a green light when a backup completes.

This concept is certainly intriguing, but what struck me was the passion that John exuded while discussing these topics. This enthusiasm is common on the eCDM team; it’s clear to see that the team shares John’s vision of objective based management and the experience that eCDM is promising. The members of the eCDM team are technical experts in storage and data protection, each with an average of 15-20 years in the industry. Their experience spans across varying business units within EMC and throughout the industry. When this many technical experts are so passionate about a product, it deserves notice.

John Rokicki is a 25+ year veteran of the storage management and data protection industries, having spent the last 11 years with EMC as a consulting engineer and senior manager. He has been primarily responsible for storage integration within EMC’s data protection products, including EMC NetWorker, with such technologies as EMC RecoverPoint, EMC Isilon NAS, and EMC VMAX storage. John currently serves as a product owner, chief architect and developer for the eCDM v1 release.  John has been acknowledged by the United States Patent Office for several inventions related to his past and current work.

-Tyler Stone @tyler_stone_

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