Jaggaer: cloud computing - the benefits and best strategies
When cloud computing first entered the mainstream in the late , Thomas Dieringer, President of JAGGAER EMEA saw several definitiations for it and its application. “Oxford Dictionaries defines cloud computing as using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer,” he states.
One of the significant benefits of cloud computing detailed by Dieringer is the capacity for individuals to log on to a system any place in the world and work on documents, pitches, business opportunities or approve multi-million-dollar contracts. Other key benefits of the technology are centered around cost, performance, security, speed, productivity, and reliability.
“From a cost perspective, the initial expense of setting up hardware and software can be eliminated, as can the need for large onsite data centres. The cost associated with running these can be pervasive when you consider 24-hour electricity and cooling, a team of experts, and the various servers. Performance-wise, cloud computing runs on a network of secure data centres, using the latest, and fastest, computing hardware. This also promotes higher speed, with companies able to access vast amounts of resources. At the same time, from a productivity perspective, IT teams are less restricted due to not having to deal with large amounts of hardware,” comments Dieringer, adding that, “using the cloud is also more reliable. Backup and recovery allows for greater continuity and can also help reduce costs.” However, with these benefits Dieringer notes that while “the benefits of cloud computing far outweigh the challenges, certain areas should be considered for successful implementation and usage. Some considerations include expertise and compliance, which have grown in prominence in recent years, governance, and migration.”
With “companies that invest in big data, cloud, mobility, and security enjoy up to 53% faster revenue growth than their competitors,” a large number of companies are investing and implementing the technology within their operations benefiting from cost savings, increased collaboration, quality control, and loss prevention, Dieringer also notes that, “during COVID-19 it has also proved imperative from a disaster recovery perspective, ensured automatic software updates, and perhaps most importantly, created a competitive edge.”
The best strategy for adoption cloud computing technology and the importance of the right workplace culture and mindset
When it comes to adopting cloud computing technology, Dieringer explains - using procurement as an example - that first and foremost “instead of sinking time, money and resources into developing a solution to cover all existing processes, procurement can get more out of new software solutions by first delivering a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that covers roughly 70% of the essential business requirements and processes first. Once the team has started working with the new SaaS solution, you can strategically evaluate which of the remaining 30% of your processes you would like to cover.”
The next key aspect that Dieringer believes is worth remembering is that “implementation projects may take several months to complete. By focusing on achieving quick wins first, you and your team will be able to see the cost savings, a return on your investment, sooner.” In addition, in order “to avoid a low user acceptance rate project managers need to manage employee expectations with internal project marketing. Deliver an MVP and make it clear that this is not the final product; elicit input from stakeholders and users and build their suggestions into the next iteration of the project.”
Ultimately Dieringer highlights that “digital transformation is about more than digitising existing manual processes. Every function and department that will be working with the final solution should be included in both the initial discussion and the subsequent sprint reviews. Finally to ensure that implementation projects stay on time and within budget, it is important to choose the right implementation method that can help contain costs and reduce risks based on the ‘win fast or fail fast’ principle.”
Circling back to an early part in Dieringer's best strategy for cloud computing adoption, he further reiterates the importance of having the right mindset and culture. “Approaching a large IT implementation project can be a daunting prospect. In addition to managing the expenses, timelines, logistics and vendors, you have to consider change management and user expectations. To overcome many of the issues first look to gain valuable input from actual end users during the design phase of a new IT project. By getting a more accurate understanding of what end users need from a solution not only can you set expectations accordingly, you can also reach all of your goals more quickly.” Dieringer goes on to explain that while “making sure you have the right team available to handle a project might seem like an obvious requirement, it can often go overlooked. Having the right size team is only half the battle. The second step is ensuring that you have the right people filling those seats. Keeping the team small and powerful can keep projects moving quickly without overworking individuals or overcomplicating staff meetings. Finally, focus on the outcomes, not internal history, politics, or processes to ensure successful implementation. Use best practice examples, advice from experts, and partners with experience within the industry to support your implementations. To avoid restricting the development and the financial investment associated with it, refrain from looking inward to the organisation.”
The impact of COVID-19 for the cloud computing industry
When it comes to the impact of COVID-19 for the cloud computing industry, Dieringer highlights that “there has undoubtedly been an enormous spike in the use of cloud computing as a result of COVID-19. You only have to look at the uptick in the number of people and companies using tools such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, to appreciate just how much of an impact this will have had on cloud infrastructure. Throughout the world, one of the largest areas impacted as a result of COVID-19, regardless of the industry, was the supply chain. Those directly responsible for the supply chain are those within the procurement and supply chain department. An extra barrier for those organisations operating on-premise ERP, was the implementation of remote working conditions, resulting in many people unable to access their organisation’s network. The very essence of cloud computing is the ability to adapt to current market conditions by being agile and have the ability to up or downscale as the business requires. Organisations considering implementing a cloud-based system or upgrading will almost certainly be looking to do this as a priority now.”
As with any major disaster, Dieringer details that while short term digital strategies and transformation projects may be put on hold in order to focus on the prevention of COVID-19, looking to the future Dieringer believes that “companies will take time to take stock and develop new plans and strategies to begin the first tentative steps to recovery,” and “cloud computing will play an essential role in that recovery. For companies already adept at using cloud, they will look at additional ways of utilising it further. Those yet to embrace will undoubtedly implement the many cost savings, and ease of working it affords.”
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.”