Tuesday, December 25, 2007

EMC Academic Alliance - A Good Storage Education Initiative

… Continuation from last post, Are We Educating Future Storage Professionals?

I subscribe to ACM Digital Library and enjoy reading the latest storage research happening in academia and research organizations. Recently, I came across an interesting paper in Proceeding of the 8th ACM SIG-Information Conference on Information Technology Education on EMC Academic Alliance program (See, Storage Technologies: An Education Opportunity, Ed Van Sickle et. al. SIGITE’07, October 18-20, 2007, Destin Florida USA).

In this paper, Ed discusses EMC realizing during hiring process that very few recent graduates had any knowledge of storage technologies. Initially EMC tried boot camp approach. Then, EMC concluded that greater benefits may be achieved by creating courses focused on storage technologies at university level.

This gave birth to EMC Academic Alliance Program [PDF] with goals of educating CS/IT students on storage and support for knowledge transfer, guest lectures, and site visits. In my opinion, it is an impressive initiative and kudos to EMC for recognizing the shortage of storage skills and taking the lead with potential solutions. Why are EMC bloggers not highlighting and promoting such a positive initiative?

Why is an industry association like SNIA not leading Academic alliance initiatives? It doesn’t look like education is a part of their new mission.

The paper also showcases the implementation of this initiative at four universities and provides overview of the courses held and plans for future classes. This is a great compliment for the course offering under this program at Penn State University (PSU).
Subsequent offerings of the course filled to room capacity based on the positive word-of-mouth that the course generated. In fact, students from other PSU colleges (engineering, computer science) have requested to be added to the course.
Of course, program also has its challenges as encountered at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth with course material being unsuitable for the targeted student segment and unavailability of suitable text book, and at North Carolina A&T University with low student interest and course enrollment.

The paper also mentions the interest of Dr. Cameron (one of the co-authors) at Penn State University in developing a three course storage track but being constrained by lack of teaching resources. Hopefully, he can attract other storage vendors to fulfill the vision of a storage track and overcome the lack of teaching resources through guest lectures by industry professionals.

I wish paper had further explored student/instructor survey results and the challenges facing the program.

Will EMC collaborate with its customers, partners and other storage vendors in growing this initiative? How can rest of the storage industry help in growing the program? How can storage bloggers help?


  1. My son is currently pursuing an Engineering degree with a Computer Science major. Most days when I talk with him I feel completely out to lunch. He has grown up with 10GB of external memory as part of his thought process and hungers for how to make technology work for the world, and how he can change paradigms.

    While his knowledge and focus continues to amaze me, I am surprised to find out how little he really understands storage. While he is aware of RAID and disk technology, it appears as though at the University level, storage is approached as a large filing cabinet.

    Kudos to anyone (including EMC) who are incenting our institutions of higher learning to focus on storage. As we all know, storage is so much more than an expensive filing cabinet.

    Paul Clifford
    Davenport Group

  2. Paul,

    I am in complete agreement with your sentiments. There is very little awareness of programs like EMC - AA. Hopefully more storage vendors will join such initiatives or start their own. I am also surprised that SNIA has put government lobbying for short-term gains ahead of taking on such initiatives that will produce better awareness and long-term results.


  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD5E_5JwGVY - Tom Clancy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySX4_nMzS6Q - Alok Shrivastava

    Watch EMC Academic alliance program on youtube

  4. Interesting blog posting and comments. EMC has mostly promoted the Academic Alliance through one-on-one exchanges with Universities. We do now have an online community where anybody can exchange ideas and information on this topic. It is our new Proven Professional community, with a sub-community on readiness, for Academic Alliance. Browse or add comments, start a discussion.

    C. Kronauer at EMC