Best of VMworld: Harnessing Data Center Modernization and the Public Cloud with SGB-SMIT

VMworld 2021 was full of incredible content across our general sessions, technical demos, and hands-on labs. Among the highlights were our customer conversations, in which we learned how organizations around the globe are leveraging VMware technologies to reach unprecedented heights. 

We heard from Josef Schmid, Group IT infrastructure manager at SGB-SMIT, on the organization’s journey to the cloud and data center modernization. SGB-SMIT is a power transformer manufacturer headquartered in Regensburg, Germany, with 13 locations around the world. The challenge for the IT team at SGB-SMIT was the need to quickly scale data and processes to keep up with doubling production growth while keeping employees connected across locations. 

How it All Started 

Under the new leadership of CIO Salvatore Cassara in 2016, the first step in SGB-SMIT’s cloud journey was consolidating the Office platforms and moving to Office 365, a common first step for many organizations. After the Office 365 migration, the team realized that their existing virtual desktop environment wouldn’t support their growing need for high-performance capabilities such as 3D CAD, especially for their new subsidiary in Romania. 

SGB-SMIT then made a bold decision to consolidate their data centers and create a single global data center operating as a private cloud. As their first cloud project, the organization opted for a high-end, 3D CAD virtual desktop infrastructure to support their engineers who needed a high-performance environment to fulfil their roles. 

Public Cloud Migration 

To achieve their public cloud migration goals, SGB-SMIT used both VMware Cloud on AWS and Google Cloud VMware Engine by managing it as one entity from a vCenter and vSphere environment. In fact, with Google Cloud VMware engine, SGB-SMIT was able to deploy nearly 1,000 desktops into the cloud within 8 weeks. 

Future Plans 

The end goal for SGB-SMIT is to move everything that is currently on-prem to the cloud, including virtual servers and end user desktops. This move will result in the best user experience since there will be no need to transfer big data loads over their local network. 

The plan for the on-premises infrastructure is that it will only run production related systems that need low-latency access, in cases where there is a critical situation that requires accessing data in their private cloud. 

The Human Side 

Sometimes, the “human” element can be the most difficult part of change – sometimes even harder than the technical side. To combat this phenomenon during their shift to a central, private cloud and the public cloud, SGB-SMIT created a robust plan to ensure that all employees’ technical needs would be met, and that their experience would be seamless. 

As the IT team already had a lot of experience of virtualization, the team received support and training to the point that motivation was high. But, to ensure that all end users would also have a smooth experience with the new central private cloud, SGB-SMIT set up VDI “test teams” across departments to guarantee that users would have the ability to work as efficiently as they did previously. 

Ultimately, SGB-SMIT has built infrastructure that is highly scalable, sustainable, and innovative, with the potential to leverage new cloud services such as data analytics and machine learning. Becoming an enterprise with multi-cloud infrastructure has enabled SGB-SMIT to accomplish incredible technological feats such as building 3D accelerated VDI, supporting rapid desktop deployment, and more. To learn more about the successes and challenges of SGB-SMIT’S multi-cloud journey, watch their VMworld session here: