HCL: Modernising Arqiva’s core systems and infrastructure
“Arqiva is undergoing a massive business and digital transformation and we're a strategic partner in their journey,” states Anand Birje, Sr. Corporate Vice President and Head of the Digital and Analytics practice at HCL Technologies. Part of a next-gen global tech company that is helping prestigious businesses around the world to reimagine themselves for the digital era, Birje explains that its partnership with telco Arqiva started in 2018 and has remained strong ever since. “HCL was chosen as a prime partner for its smart metering implementation programme, which was, to my mind, one of the largest of its kind in the world at that time.”
Indeed, Clive White, Chief Technology and Transformation Officer at Arqiva, states that this initiative was highly ambitious: a future-proofing transformation programme aimed at taking the company’s customer experience to the next level. “We were looking to modernise all of our infrastructure and core systems and, very importantly, make good on the realisation of our integrated future,” he says. Achieving this meant placing data at the centre of the company’s operations to acquire the desired “single point of truth”. Arqiva’s highly progressive attitude and culture meant that it needed a partner with shared values in order to execute this vision. Following a thorough search for the right collaborator, “HCL came out on top.”
On this particular digital transformation, Birje highlights Arqiva’s desire to reimagine its value chain and enhance its agility through technologies like cloud, APIs and microservices. More than simply tech, however, he adds that HCL’s synergistic culture has enabled it to determine the best course of action. “Enterprises are bringing business and technology teams closer together. It's no longer about delivering capabilities over a long period of time, but rather having the ability to work closely in sharp sprints in order to deliver business features.” Speed to market is paramount for Arqiva, confirms White. In fact, it was one of the origin points for the entire programme. The company’s enhanced agility also had an unprecedented benefit during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic: “We established a digital workplace very early on; Arqiva was able to pivot the business overnight to working remotely for all our teams, apart from the operational teams and field engineers.”
Looking ahead to the future, Birje emphasises the advantages that maintaining a strong ecosystem of partners can have. From assisting in the choice of technology stacks to supporting enterprise-wide digital change, he considers transformation to be more akin to a never ending journey of discovery than a linear process. “It's not just a one-time exercise and it's not a programme that has a ‘start’ and a ‘stop’. HCL is looking forward to undertaking that journey with Arqiva; there's a massive transformation coming in the next few years.” White considers that, as the company shifts from being a ‘data managing’ to a ‘data-driven’ organisation, the possibilities for reinvention are likely to be significant, both for Arqiva and the market it operates in. “I think we are creating self-serve opportunities the more we reach out to our customers with portals, dashboards and data interfaces. We're going to broaden those core business processes with data and insights and expose our customers to as much of that as we can.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”