John Egan was the key driver in the development of EMC’s Geographically Dispersed Disaster Restart (GDDR) software, which combines high availability and business continuity into a single solution set. He leads the GDDR team at EMC and is responsible for software engineering, testing, quality assurance, field deployment, and third-level support to customer service. He has three decades of experience in large-scale IT centers, including work as an MVS systems programmer and storage administrator. He designed many of EMC’s largest business continuity deployments worldwide and developed design tools and methods that are foundational to EMC’s business continuity solutions. In 2007, he was inducted as an EMC Distinguished Engineer.
Enterprise Executive: Please tell our readers briefly about GDDR.
John Egan: The product provides automation for planned event and unplanned event management in System z environments. The automation provided manipulates both the storage environment and the System z infrastructure—providing a complete, end-to-end solution for mainframe environments—and through custom service engagements to integrate with other infrastructure such as open systems servers, switches and tape infrastructure.
EE: What key messages do you have for readers?
Egan: EMC continues to maintain a completely independent stream of innovation for mainframe environments. Our own innovative product line provides support to SRDF and TimeFinder software, capped off by GDDR automation of underlying EMC infrastructure. Additionally, we offer PCM [Plug-Compatible Mainframe] products and even compatibility with IBM’s Advanced Copy Services [ACS]. We’re the only vendor outside of IBM to maintain our own GDPS lab to ensure compliance with the latest ACS features from IBM.
EE: What can you tell us about the integration and automation aspects of GDDR?
Egan: GDDR is unique in that it uses an expert system—application of knowledge engineering—to dynamically create a script to handle a planned or unplanned event. In this way, we’re able to keep GDDR as a single product. It can handle the complexity and variability of 13 different customer configurations of sites and software products. Competitors use “versions” of their base software to deal with these configuration differences. This makes it difficult or impossible to move from one configuration type to another without completely re-engineering the solution. For GDDR environments, it’s a matter of redescribing the configuration via parameters and rerunning our discovery utility software.
EE: What’s the profile of the business where GDDR makes the most sense?
Egan: GDDR is ideal for environments that recognize the importance of automated disaster event handling. We’ve had great success with some of the world’s largest banks and are now seeing adoption in the insurance, transportation, and manufacturing industries.
EE: What changes have you seen in recent years with your customer base?