WWT and Dell Technologies: partners in financial security
World Wide Technology (WWT) is one of the world’s premier technology solution providers. “Revenues right now are approaching $13bn in 2020, encompassing our digital strategy, innovative technology, as well as supply chain solutions to a variety of different customers in the public and private sectors around the globe,” explains Chris Konrad, Director of Security for WWT’s global business. “We're hyper-focused on providing secure business outcomes for our global clients,” adds Matt Berry, Principal Security Advisor, Global Financials. “We deliver solutions in the area of data governance and strategy, security platforms and tool operationalisation. We also address AI and ML model security and enterprise security architecture. Regardless of what the challenge is, our goal is to bring together business acumen with a full stack of technical know how to develop solutions that address our customers’ most complex cyber needs.”
Security in the financial services space has been made only more necessary by the ongoing challenges around the pandemic and the transition to remote working. “Financial institutions are being forced to deal with their technical debt as non-digital processes are being digitised,” says Berry. “Often these workloads are being moved into cloud environments, for instance.” That shift in technology comes alongside a rise in cyber attacks. “Threat actors are getting smarter, they're getting more organised and they’re becoming increasingly innovative in their tactics and technologies.” With those challenges in mind, WWT tailors its solutions for customers. “We architect our solutions and services around these business outcomes and offer strong consultancy combined with the technical competency.”
WWT’s reputation has led to a strong partnership with Dell Technologies. WWT is a $1bn partner of Dell Technologies’ and their first ever Titanium Black partner. “We've leveraged about 25 years of partnership expertise to do everything from designing to testing and delivering best-in-class integrated solutions that really help accelerate digital and security transformation journeys,” says Konrad. “Working with Dell Technologies ensures that as we speak to our financial services customers, we're going to have the right technical solutions to offer, regardless of whatever business outcome we're solving,” adds Berry.
The partnership extends to the wider Dell Technologies ecosystem, with WWT having recently secured its largest managed services deal in partnership with Secureworks, a leading Cybersecurity Managed Services provider that is a strategically aligned business within the Dell Technologies portfolio of capabilities. “It’s a three-year programme broken out across 10 different key work streams, with the goal of working with this financial services customer to accelerate their security maturity by the end of next year,” says Berry. WWT also has invested $500mn in an advanced technology centre for clients to try technology before buying, as Konrad explains. “They can do proofs of concept, testing, and validation with the entire Dell technologies portfolio of capabilities. And then we also have a digital Dell desk that we're able to offer our customers.”
Going forward, Berry sees the partnership evolving to continue addressing current trends. “The digital landscape is at war and the commodity that is being fought over is data. Bank accounts are stored in ones and zeros, and proprietary algorithms and financial projections are all digitised and accessible from anywhere on earth - organisations need to know where their data is, at speed and at scale across a very complex ecosystem.” The answer is a focus on data discovery, classification and protection, as well as cloud everywhere security competencies. “Going into the cloud creates additional challenges,” says Berry. “Organisations need flexible security solutions that can adopt a cloud-agnostic approach to security. If you have sensitive data, wherever it is, however it's stored, it needs to be easy to protect with simplified policies that are applied as code.”
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.”