Facing the possibility of an economic recession, one of the world’s leading professional services companies felt the urgency to improve its grasp on spend management – the practice of fully understanding and managing supplier relations and company purchasing.

With 738,000 employees and $3.8 billion in services contracts, it was crucial for Accenture to not only identify every dollar being spent but also assess whether the organization was fully exploiting each expenditure.

But a sense of frustration pervaded the company, as procurement teams complained about limited visibility into contract terms and challenges tracking statement of work (SOW) agreements, pacts specifying goals, and deadlines expected of external employees.

The capacity to generate the SOW contracts and effectively manage services spend depended upon the region since each was reliant on different processes and documentation requirements.

Inadequate services spend visibility also increased exposure to local legal and regulatory risks.

Likewise, customers were unsatisfied with a procurement process that was disjointed and inflexible when quick changes were needed.  

Improvements were needed and the deadline was tight.

“Procurement functions require a lot of time and effort working with suppliers to negotiate the best contract with the best terms,” said Patricia Miller, Accenture’s interim Chief Procurement Officer (CPO), “but if we are not able to compare the delivered service against that agreement in a systematic way, how can we assure that the hard-earned negotiated terms were applied?” 

To relieve this quandary, Accenture launched a campaign to build a vigorous, dynamic procurement function to unlock more value by providing extraordinary visibility into services spend. 

The global standard at lightning speed

Based in Dublin, Ireland, Accenture specializes in digital, cloud, and security technology strategies, consulting, and operations, serving more than 40 industries in more than 120 countries.

Now, as it conceptualized a new platform to effectively manage services spend, it was forced to change its deployment system.

Previously, deployment planning was laborious, requiring substantial time and investment.  The lengthy process slowed feedback on solution design, as well as delivery times on changes.

Yet, Accenture had a dependable, long-term partner in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software pioneer SAP, first adopting the company’s solutions in 2004.

As it faced its latest challenge, Accenture chose SAP Fieldglass, a vendor management system for services procurement and external workforce organization, to provide reporting and analytics.

In addition to implementing a global standard template – rather than a variety of country-specific prototypes – the solution would be customized to meet local invoicing, legal, and regulatory requirements.

From submission to payment, not only would turnaround time be reduced, but collaboration and communication with suppliers were about to reach unprecedented levels.

Meeting changing markets and business demands

The function was deployed back in 2020 in the first of many country-by-country rollouts.

Although the typical technology deployment had taken an average of one year per nation, the expedited timeline enabled 14 countries to begin using the solution within 12 months.

A global management team was also formed to support the effort.

Given the importance of the implementation, constant feedback was needed, and the enhanced technology amplified the level of dialogue, streamlining both testing activities and the ability to deliver required changes.

Today, Accenture’s procurement arm is better equipped to meet changing market and business demands than ever before.

For the first time, Accenture has a heightened understanding of the “hidden” workforce associated with its service business.  Since external workers may not always fit traditional profiles, users are able to cull contract information to link specific employees to their individual skill sets.

Explained Jane M. Kennedy, Global External Management Director for Accenture, “Today, we have much-proved…visibility for management (due to) an online solution that aligns to each worker’s type of engagement.” 

Suppliers noted the ease of transitioning to SAP Fieldglass, and the pace at which entire companies were able to adopt the platform.

Currently, 2,000 suppliers have implemented the system, while $ 1 billion in services spend are managed through the function each year, resulting in a more transparent supply chain and significant cost savings.

That includes the reduced fees for document storage in regions where procurement practices were primarily paper based.

Users report 99% greater accuracy, as well as 7% error reduction per 10,000 SOWs.

For creating a global standard procurement process through its development of a novel solution, Accenture was distinguished as a finalist at the 2023 SAP Innovation Awards, a yearly ceremony honoring organizations using SAP technologies to improve business and society. You can read their pitch deck to see what they accomplished to earn this honor.

Digital Transformation

Nearly all organizations are struggling with how to stay in control as their data migrates to the cloud and users connect from anywhere. The answer, they’ve been told, is zero trust. Zero trust starts from the premise that an organization is going to be breached so that they can then focus on minimizing any potential harm. Although well-defined as an architecture and a philosophy, it is difficult to apply these principles across your infrastructure in the real world. While you can’t buy a complete, packaged zero trust solution, you can build a solid defense strategy around zero trust concepts to secure sensitive data and enable the business and users to proceed in a safe manner.

Over the past few years, the environment to which zero trust is being applied has changed dramatically. Users are working outside the safety of traditional security perimeters, using devices and networks the organization doesn’t control. Cloud and remotely accessible infrastructure enables anyone to work and collaborate from anywhere on any device, but it is critical to ensure access is secure and centrally managed.

There are numerous elements to zero trust, notably, user (identity), endpoint, data, and risk. Rather than a ready-made solution or platform, zero trust represents a mindset, a philosophy, and ultimately a cybersecurity architecture. Aaron Cockerill, Chief Strategy Officer with endpoint and cloud security solutions provider Lookout, urges organizations to focus on what matters most: sensitive data.

“What’s happened over the last couple of years with digital transformation is that users, apps and data have left the building and are no longer within that traditional security perimeter,” says Cockerill. “Rather than simply providing remote access via virtual private networks, take the services that you had in that perimeter and put them in the cloud so that you can work in this new hybrid environment where apps are in the cloud or cloud-accessible.”

That’s the aim of Security Service Edge (SSE) solutions that provide cloud-based security components, including Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and Firewall as a Service (FWaaS). 

“When users were in the building, the internet was filtered for them by their company to make sure that they were not clicking on malicious links and performing other non-secure activities, so part of SSE moves those services into the cloud.” 

Most organizations have now adopted hundreds of SaaS apps, and each one handles authorization and access control differently. To avoid having IT become an expert in every SaaS app, centralized policy management across all cloud and SaaS apps through a CASB solution should also be top of the list for most organizations. “By centralizing data access policies IT teams can minimize workloads, simplify administration, and avoid misconfiguration that can introduce vulnerabilities.” Cockerill adds. 

Finally, in the wrong hands VPNs expose large parts of your infrastructure to attack. “That’s basically a tunnel through the firewall into the soft, gooey center of any organization’s IT infrastructure, which is a nightmare from a security standpoint. Once someone connects via VPN they typically have unfettered access to adjacent apps and data, and this is where lateral movement comes into play. You need to segregate your infrastructure to prevent lateral movement.” Bad actors use lateral movement to search for systems and data that can be leveraged to extort their target. Zero trust proposes microsegmentation to address this, but ZTNA is a simpler and more modern approach. 

The noise level around zero trust can be confusing for organizations trying to chart the safest course. Cockerill warns against falling for misleading claims about so-called “zero trust solutions,” and instead recommends assessing your current and desired state against an established zero trust security model, such as one drafted by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

“Implementing zero trust is a never-ending journey and the best way of establishing the right elements of technology for you to embrace in that journey is comparing yourself back to those maturity models,” says Cockerill. “There’s no silver bullet so don’t be misled by vendors telling you there is because you can’t buy it off the shelf. You need to look for vendors that acknowledge that integration with your existing infrastructure is the right approach.”

The CISA model aligns the zero-trust security model to five pillars:

IdentityDeviceNetwork/EnvironmentApplication WorkloadData

According to CISA, each pillar can progress at its own pace and may be farther along than others, until cross-pillar coordination is required, allowing for a gradual evolution to zero trust.

There are endless ways to apply zero trust, so it’s important to start out with a well-thought plan. Cockerill recommends that organizations prioritize their implementation efforts according to their risk registers. “I would prioritize, maybe even over-correct towards the protection of data to stop your data from being stolen” he adds. “Zero trust represents our best approach to the battle against cyber attackers, but it shouldn’t be considered a panacea. It’s virtually impossible to deploy controls across everything, so it’s critical to assess the risks involving the organization’s most sensitive data and start the zero-trust implementation there.”

For more information on the Lookout Cloud Security Platform, visit us here.

Zero Trust

The public cloud offers plenty of tantalizing advantages to enterprise customers. The appeal of scalability, security, and performance — not to mention the elimination of massive capital expenditures — can be hard to resist. Countless enterprise businesses have flocked to the public cloud and never looked back.

Yet, for some, the benefits that looked alluring on paper can prove elusive in practice. That’s because the advantages of the public cloud are not ubiquitously available and synonymous for all. The reality is that while the public cloud works incredibly well for plenty of enterprise customers, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

However, that doesn’t mean that the public cloud’s signature pay-for-use pricing model can’t work in a private-cloud scenario. If you’re seeking the pricing and scalability of the public cloud, an on-demand private cloud may be the solution.

The public cloud is remarkable, but it isn’t for everyone

The public cloud has transformed business and can be an incredibly cost-effective option, especially when it comes to replacing a data center full of end-of-life equipment (or even eliminating the data center itself). The public cloud alleviates massive capital and operational expenditures associated with running a data center and the equipment it houses and spreads the costs into a pay-as-you-go and pay-for-what-you-use model. Organizations can scale up and down quickly and turn off workloads they aren’t using — all without the costs and headaches of on-premises infrastructure.

At the same time, the benefits and suitability vary depending on each enterprise business’s needs, challenges, processes, and infrastructure.

Possible unexpected costs

Predicting public cloud costs can be difficult. For example, we know that, by and large, putting data into the cloud isn’t the problem. Pulling that data out is where costs can add up. Such costs can be tricky to estimate due because needs may fluctuate from month to month or season to season.

Furthermore, well-intentioned organizations relish the idea of scalability and the capability to turn off unneeded workloads. The problem is, they often lack the processes and discipline to proactively manage these resources, and usage volumes and their associated costs can balloon quickly.

Then there’s shadow IT. It’s challenging to monitor unsanctioned applications and workloads in the public cloud, and their associated usage costs (and risks) can pile up.  

Potentially unfamiliar architectures

Public cloud providers have developed excellent solutions to secure data and ensure compliance. However, cloud architecture differs from traditional on-premises infrastructure, and the skillsets required to support these environments vary immensely.

Migrating to the public cloud fundamentally changes the security boundaries, accessibility, behaviors, and skillsets required to support your infrastructure. Employees who are not highly trained in the cloud can inadvertently introduce security gaps and misconfiguration. Because information sits in the public cloud, these risks can pose much bigger threats than they might in a traditional on-premises infrastructure.  

Application behavior impacts

Application behavior can also be an issue, particularly for workloads not optimized for the cloud or workloads that rely on decentralized edge processing. Sometimes, organizations shift their workloads to the public cloud but find that as data gets passed back and forth, application performance decreases as latency increases — as do egress fees for cloud bandwidth — in turn negatively impacting the user experience.

Scalability and pricing of public cloud in a private cloud

Fortunately, cloud-based pricing structures can exist in private data-center infrastructure. Some models allow organizations to enjoy demand-driven, consumption-based pricing without moving to the public cloud and without the need to adopt a CapEx-driven private infrastructure.

Predictable, pay-as-you-go OpEx model

In the on-demand private cloud model, organizations enjoy the flexibility and future scalability of a public cloud without the CapEx outlay of traditional IT infrastructure. This pay-for-use consumption model works well for organizations that understand their future sizing needs but don’t want to assume capital expenditures. The costs are predictable. Furthermore, organizations have increased visibility into resource usage — something that can prove more challenging in the public cloud.

Familiar on-premises architectures

As mentioned, the skillsets required to support public-cloud architectures differ from those needed to support on-premises architectures. By deploying a private-cloud architecture, the enterprise can leverage traditional security architectures, which may better align with an organization’s culture and the available skillsets.

Predictable application performance

Finally, in an on-demand private cloud, there’s no need to move applications, no need to refactor applications to be cloud-native, and no risk of unwanted behaviors turning up unexpectedly. You don’t have to worry about how your move to the public cloud will impact application performance.

GDT delivers on-demand private-cloud solutions on HPE GreenLake

Whether your organization is considering repatriation from public to private cloud or embracing the scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing in a private-cloud model, GDT has experts who can help you assess your needs and architect the right solution for your enterprise.

Leveraging HPE GreenLake, GDT can deliver a purpose-built, on-demand private-cloud architecture that suits your needs today and in the future. GDT has some of the world’s leading, most experienced experts across cloud, data center, and hybrid multi-cloud. Whether you’re looking to move to a private, public, or hybrid multi-cloud, GDT has the experience and expertise to ensure a successful journey. 

Call us today, and we can discuss how to architect a best-in-breed solution to meet your specific enterprise needs.

Cloud Management

Digitization has transformed traditional companies into data-centric operations with core business applications and systems requiring 100% availability and zero downtime. One company that needs to keep data on a tight leash is Petco, which is a market leader in pet care and wellness products. Most of Petco’s core business systems run on four InfiniBox® storage systems in multiple data centers.

The company’s selection of Infinidat was much more intensive than just throwing bird seed to the wind. For the evolution of its enterprise storage infrastructure, Petco had stringent requirements to significantly improve speed, performance, reliability, and cost efficiency. Infinidat rose to the challenge.

The deployment of Infinidat’s storage platforms into Petco’s data centers has enabled better pet-parent experiences, providing the company with a competitive advantage. On top of that, the ease of implementation and management of the Infinidat platform defined the customer experience, as perfect and fitting as a fish in water. Infinidat beat out the competition.

The results speak for themselves. By deploying Infinidat’s award-winning storage technology, Petco obtained 100% availability with zero downtime, as well as high reliability and scalability. The Infinidat solution also enabled the company to substantially lower their CAPEX and OPEX. Petco caught the vision of what Infinidat could do for their company and they ran with it. (To read the full case study, click here.)

Likewise, another company that values the competitive edge that Infinidat’s storage solutions delivers is Salem Five Bank, a full-service financial services corporation. This bank needed to upgrade its enterprise storage infrastructure as part of a major upgrade of online banking applications with a third-party provider. They wanted to improve operational efficiency (i.e. virtualized systems, databases, business workloads, etc) and only pay for storage as needed.

Salem Five ended up banking on Infinidat for its storage because InfiniBox is an extremely reliable platform that self-optimizes performance. Infinidat provided unmatched performance, availability, flexibility and lower total cost of ownership that the bank needed to maintain their edge in the marketplace. They were a marked improvement over the previous, legacy storage technologies that the bank had been using.

The bank secured 100% availability with zero downtime, along with frictionless scalability. Furthermore, Infinidat provided Salem Five with a cloud-like flexible consumption model. While Salem Five’s personal touch uncomplicates banking for consumers, Infinidat simplified storage for the bank while improving performance, reliability, and cost savings, as well as providing white glove personalized service. (To read the full case study, click here.)

Banks aren’t the only ones that invest in Infinidat. Insurance companies also see Infinidat as a storage vendor of choice. One that has spoken out publicly, like Salem Five, is Clientèle Life Insurance, a well-respected insurance company in South Africa. This company wanted to ensure competitive advantage with consistent uptime and fast data access. They wanted a storage solution with a three-tier architecture that delivers high availability, high performance, top-notch replication capabilities, support for virtualized environments, and flexibility to scale at short notice.

Clientèle Life Insurance reduced risk by choosing Infinidat as its storage solution provider. Two InfiniBox systems for synchronous replication between the insurance company’s production and disaster recovery data centers are in operation. The ROI has been generated through cost savings, enabling them to do more with fewer resources.

Infinidat’s cloud-like flexible consumption models optimize budget for the customer. The cost efficiencies are coupled with a 40% performance improvement, supported by proactive system monitoring. Ultimately, Clientèle Life is able to deliver a better customer experience through consistent uptime and speedy access to information. (To read the full case study, click here.)

Another customer, which has combined craftmanship and digital innovation, is ECMD, a provider of building materials for carpenters, contractors, and remodelers, among others. This organization wanted to upgrade the storage infrastructure at an affordable cost.

ECMD chose to deploy InfiniBox systems in two data centers, supporting key applications on VMware with 8 ESX hosts running approximately 120 virtual machines. They also put into place low-latency asynchronous replication to protect the company during a crisis. Plus, ECMD only pays for the storage capacity it needs.

The impact has been as sharp as the work of a fine craftsman on a workbench. ECMD now has missing-critical storage that is easily managed, highly scalable, and extremely cost-effective. The company can comfortably have a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. ECMD also benefits from the ability to quickly restore major services if anything interferes with operations. Moreover, they obtained the significant cost savings they desired, while improving reliability and performance. (To read the full case study, click here.)

Contship Italia Group, the Italian leader in container terminal logistics and intermodal solutions, also needed to upgrade critical enterprise storage for VMware. They saw it as an opportunity to reduce the complexity of the storage infrastructure. They needed a more autonomous, easier-to-use solution.

Contship selected Infinidat because of the ease of management with a set-it-and-forget-it approach. The fact that the InfiniBox Active-Active replication and VMware’s Storage Cluster (VMSC) are fully integrated was also highly attractive. It meant seamless VMware-Infinidat integration. The simplified migration to Infinidat’s platform exceeded expectations.

The move freed up resources for other value-added activities. Contship was able to achieve 40% cost savings with Infinidat. At the same time, the company gained higher performance and lower latency in its storage and added the autonomous automation that it wanted. Infinidat’s system now provides 100% application and data availability for Contship Italia’s virtualized environments. (To read the full case study, click here.)

These multiple customers that have adopted Infinidat’s state-of-the-art, enterprise storage solutions are just a few examples of our company’s expanding installed base. More than 25% of the Fortune 50 are now Infinidat customers, leveraging the company’s unique value proposition for large enterprises to provide InfiniBox and InfiniGuard® as their primary storage, modern data protection, disaster recovery and business continuity, and cyber resilience solutions.

For more information, go to: www.infinidat.com

Data Management

Halkbank, founded in 1993, is one of the largest banks in Türkiye, offering corporate and retail banking, investor relations, and SME and commercial services to over 15 million customers. But during the pandemic lockdowns, customers were forced to switch to the bank’s digital channels, and mobile app users quickly soared from one million to 2.5 million.

Since the pandemic, however, this increase in digital customers hasn’t been entirely smooth. The bank recognized the need to scale its mobile banking platform to handle more than double the volume of traffic.

Namik Kemal Uçkan, head of IT operations at Halkbank, lists challenges created in different areas, including prioritizing network availability when traffic volumes surge; making services in high demand available during peaks; ensuring speedy resolution and identification of network issues; having a sufficient capacity of network monitoring solutions; and ensuring faster incident resolutions and troubleshooting across the networks.

As a result, increasing complexity inside the enterprise IT ecosystem has been constant, and managing networks that support it, while always important, have become critical to address.

Over the last 10 years, Halkbank has been using Riverbed SteelHead across more than 1,000 branches for WAN optimization, and network and application performance. Riverbed’s solutions have helped to ensure Halkbank’s business critical applications are always available for its business users.

“Riverbed SteelHead has been used to accelerate the performance of the internal banking applications that are utilized by its own employees,” says Mena Migally, regional VP, META, at Riverbed. “By deploying this solution, they’ve reduced the latency for applications at branch offices while also realizing bandwidth savings.”

Banking, CIO, Digital Transformation