Ricoh: Empowering Vodafone’s digital capabilities
A global organisation historically known for its print services, Ricoh is also recognised today for IT services in its own right – empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services to enterprise organisations around the world.
Joanna Parker, Business Development Director at Ricoh UK Ltd, is responsible for delivering cyber security and field services into Vodafone.
“Ricoh has worked in partnership with Vodafone since 2004,” says Parker, “supporting their mobile and, more recently, their fixed network with solutions and professional services around security infrastructure, cyber security services, and cloud infrastructure.”
When it comes to cyber security, for instance, Ricoh has a dedicated engineering team working with Vodafone’s own highly skilled security engineers, providing design, implementation and support for Vodafone’s critical security infrastructure.
“We also have a dedicated professional services team within security who support high-level design and implementation of global security infrastructure for Vodafone,” says Parker. “That team provides support across all areas of professional service in regard to cyber security, dedicated teams within product development, application development working with DevSecOps, right at the forefront of Vodafone security infrastructure, security application and infrastructure requirements.
“We support implementation, rationalisation and consolidation, as well as specific programmes to manage increased demand and generate more efficiencies across the Vodafone cellular network.”
Ricoh has over 90,000 employees, giving the company significant capability to support field services and field engineering globally. Boosting their capabilities even further, Ricoh has also recently acquired MTI Technology – specialising in data and cyber security, data centre modernisation, IT managed services and IT transformation services. MTI provide a range of professional and managed services designed to help customers accelerate and de-risk their IT transformation projects.
“MTI are able to support our dedicated on-site teams across the UK and across Europe with innovations in cyber and are uniquely positioned to support the dedicated security team that we have on-site within Vodafone,” says Parker.
That acquisition proved timely when it came to coping with the extra demands caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Parker says Ricoh were well prepared and fortunate to be able to work remotely while still having access to all critical infrastructure.
“Where teams needed to be on-site or working within data centres, we have been able, by working in partnership with Vodafone, to ensure that any implementation, rationalisation or consolidation has still been undertaken by all of our teams,” says Parker. “We fully supported all projects and programmes and did not cause any delay or impact across Vodafone's project and programme rollouts that we were responsible for delivering.”
From a business development perspective, both for Ricoh and for its partnership with Vodafone, Parker believes there are even more opportunities over the next 12 to 18 months.
“We see a great opportunity to be able to support Vodafone with regard to Ricoh’s IT services portfolio – our data centre capabilities, technologies and security innovation, but also around our digital workplace solutions, data and analytics, and our infrastructure and cloud solutions,” she says.
“This enables us to not just support Vodafone but also Vodafone's customers who are looking at cloud-based and secure managed security infrastructures.”
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.”