Laith Bahoshy, Senior Director of Cloud Solution Architecture EMEA, VMware
In today’s digitally-enhanced world opportunity and innovation are abundant. We are transforming how we work and consume products, services and experiences because we are no longer are tied to specific locations to do our jobs, access specific data or simply live our lives.
Now, we’re all distributed – from people working remotely, to the apps generating and processing data at the edge, to the security protecting every aspect of modern networks. It’s a scenario that presents seemingly limitless potential, but it’s also highly complex and challenging.
The tension between innovation and control
Our ability to realize these opportunities continues to be hampered by the variety and complexity of systems, clouds and technologies and the perceived need to choose between maintaining control and supercharging innovation.
Too many people think it’s a binary choice, between digital and analogue. Should we offer either face-to-face doctors’ appointments, or telehealth; in-classroom learning or online education; being in the office or at home?
The answer is that we no longer need to choose. Hybrid approaches mean we can now deploy the right experience at the right time, based on the circumstances. The same applies to enterprise IT, too. It’s not about only choosing one thing over another, but combining a mix of systems, cloud and technologies in a strategic manner, to drive outcomes that align with your business goals. So, it’s not innovation or control; it’s innovation and control, with a multi-cloud platform for all an organization’s applications, wherever they want them deployed.
How one data and analytics leader is innovating with cloud
This isn’t just theory; more organizations are adopting a proactive, strategic approach to cloud. One good example is data and analytics leader GfK. Headquartered in Nuremburg but with 8,000 staff across 60 countries, it provides critical consumer and market insights to help its 10,000 clients make more informed decisions.
Doing this effectively and in a timely manner means being able to handle data, which is a challenge when its data volumes have been growing at a rate of 20 per cent a year. What’s more, it needs to be as agile and responsive as its clients; constantly innovating and deploying new services and solutions.
But it had a problem, in the shape of an obsolete IT system comprised of a variety of different infrastructure silos. It also needed to deal with a multitude of cloud providers that were driving up costs and acting as an obstacle to greater flexibility and scalability.
It needed to adopt a future-orientated digital strategy, and that process began by laying a solid foundation for a modern infrastructure with VMware vRealize Automation. From there, the desire for a self-service hybrid-cloud environment which delivered self-service automation immediately became apparent.
To achieve this GfK went on to adopt a hybrid-cloud model using VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation. It has given the company a secure infrastructure and consistent operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public environments. This included migrating from multiple cloud providers to just one, eliminating the broad spectrum of IT infrastructure silos. But perhaps most importantly for the company, it has removed limits on storage capacity. As Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of IT infrastructure at GfK notes: “In market research, everything is data-driven. So we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distil them into logical insights.” GfK’s multi-cloud strategy is helping it break away from the traditional market research space surrounding descriptive, static data and toward top-class analytics, AI-driven forecasts and recommendations for action. Its new AI-powered product gfknewron 2.0 product for example is specifically based on public cloud technology, and is – in the words of Hesselink – allowing its clients to benefit from “unrivalled speed and flexibility”, and make better business decisions.
Cloud smart, not cloud first
GfK isn’t a one-off, either. At VMworld, we made a series of announcements that will deliver what is effectively the next chapter of multi-cloud. It’s all part of our focus on being cloud smart – the idea that cloud is here to stay but isn’t always right for everything, and that the journey is in many ways just as important as the destination. What really matters is having the correct mix of environments for your organizational needs, with the flexibility to change direction.
We introduced VMware Cross-Cloud Services, a new integrated family of services that will help deliver a faster and smarter path to cloud for digital businesses, providing customers with the ability to build, run and better secure applications across any cloud. Combining cloud infrastructure, cloud management, security and networking and digital workspace, it will deliver speed, cost efficiency and both freedom and choice to customers.
That freedom and choice runs through our announcements covering multi-cloud, at the edge, and addressing the need for data security and privacy. New advances to VMware Cloud with Tanzu services, for example, will help customers move to the cloud faster and more securely, accelerate app modernization and enable customers to blur the boundaries of those apps that extend across multiple environments.
Then there’s VMware Edge, which helps organizations run and manage edge-native apps across multiple clouds, reflecting the decentralized and distributed data of today.
And finally, we announced VMware Sovereign Cloud, which helps customers engage with trusted national cloud service providers and meet specific regulatory and governance requirements for specific applications, types of data and industries.
The common themes linking all these are the same ones I highlighted earlier in the article – innovation and control. Not either or, but together. This is where multi-cloud, and indeed enterprise IT as a whole, is heading; to a point where organizations can innovate without fear of breaching security or exposing themselves, their data or their users. Where they can build, manage and modernise business-defining applications, without compromise.
We’re exploring these themes in our upcoming webcast series, which promises to provide a technical deep drive into how organizations can unlock the value of cloud to accelerate app modernization. Sign up to how our latest innovations can help you drive value from your technology investments.