Football incorporates the two worst elements of American society: violence punctuated by committee meetings.Bern Williams\u00a0Dear Vorticians,\u00a0With the upcoming Labor Day Weekend, a young man's thoughts turn to autumn and all its glories. Okay, I admit I'm not 'young' by any temporal measure, but I am young at heart, as are all Vorticians.What glories, you may ask? For one, the beginning of the new NFL season and the New England Patriots' inevitable march to their third Super Bowl victory in four years. This isn't just local pride talking. No less an authority than Sports Illustrated has picked the Pats to repeat. (However, the magazine also has Pats QB Tom Brady on the front of its NFL Preview issue and we all know how that SI cover curse can throw a monkey wrench into things.)Also, the suddenly resurgent Red Sox have come from more than 10 games behind to take a solid lead in the Wild Card race and even challenge the slumping Yankees for the A.L. East. New Englanders are keenly aware that this may simply be the stirring prelude to another heart-crushing crescendo, but it promises to make for an interesting September and October.More important, Vortex 04 is just around the corner. Geoff Moore and I are putting the final touches on a program that we're very excited about. Vortex 04 comes at an inflection point for the enterprise IT market and we've got an incredible array of speakers (and attendees as well) to explore the changes and opportunities ahead. If you haven't registered yet, see the links below. Room space is running out at the Bacara Resort, so it's a good time to act.One of our key speakers is Howard Elias, executive vice president of corporate marketing and the Office of Technology, at EMC. I spent some time talking to Howard about EMC's forays beyond the storage market, moves that have deep implications for EMC's current competitors, as well as companies that have not viewed EMC as a rival to this point. It's market shifts like this that Vortex 04 will explore in depth.Q: Howard, EMC is pushing beyond hardware and expanding its software horizons. What's behind this strategy?A: EMC is undergoing a remarkable transformation, growing from its roots in storage and storage management into information management, content management and now virtual infrastructure. EMC now offers virtual infrastructure led by VMware - this helps customers optimize their server, network and storage resources - and information lifecycle management that helps customers align their resources to maximize the value of information as it changes over time. Taken together, EMC enables customers to optimize and align IT resources to their business. It's all about helping customers achieve more flexibility, simplifying their environment, connecting to the business at the lowest total cost.Q: How is EMC's vision of enterprise infrastructure changing?A: We'll still be the preeminent storage and information management supplier, but we want to connect all the layers of IT - storage, servers, network access and devices - to create an infrastructure where information moves easily and economically to specialized storage devices at the right time under the right policies and parameters.Today, EMC goes very deep vertically in the components of the information infrastructure that enable ILM. But we've also expanded our reach with virtual infrastructure, and we believe we'll become an integral part of the IT stack in providing this layer to help optimize the resources of servers, network and storage.Virtual infrastructure is a completely new layer that abstracts the physical servers, network and storage to more flexibly, more cost effectively optimize the resources that sit within the IT environment. We're now enabling application services and utility computing as well as making information lifecycle management more valuable to the customer as we provide that level of abstraction. So if you take a step back, it's pretty amazing to see the increasingly larger and more vital role that EMC fills in customer environments, really becoming even more of a strategic partner to enterprises large and small around the world.Q: What's your role in this change?A: I'm focused on helping EMC realize its vision of becoming the ultimate information lifecycle management company - bringing ILM to life for the benefit of our customers. Part of my role is making sure that we have consistent, repeatable processes in place to help everyone in the company deliver the benefits to our customers. I'm also responsible for seeing that we develop and apply the best communications and branding skills to make sure our audiences understand why EMC is in the best position to do so. In addition to that, I lead a council of top technical people from every part of the company who track what's happening inside and outside EMC. Together, we help the executive team create an overarching technology strategy to keep EMC at the forefront with new approaches to solving our customers' challenges as they evolve.Thanks, Howard, and thank you all, Gentle Readers, for your support. That's it for this week. If you've got thoughts on EMC, autumn or anything else of great import, drop me a note at email@example.com.\u00a0Bye for now.