In today’s fast-paced business world, where companies must constantly innovate to keep up with competitors,depending on fully customizable software solutions created with programming languages and manual coding is insufficient.

Instead, enterprises increasingly are pursuing no-code and low-code solutions for application development. No-code and low-code development entails creating software applications by using a user-friendly graphic interface that often includes drag and drop. These solutions require less coding expertise, making application development accessible to a larger swath of workers. That accessibility is critical, especially as companies continue to face a shortage of highly skilled IT workers. In fact, IDC has identified low-code/no-code mobile applications as a driver of the future of work.

“The key difference between traditional and no-code and low-code solutions is just how easy and flexible the user experience can be with no-code and low-code,” says Alex Zhong, director of product marketing at GEP. “Speed has become more and more important in the business environment today. You need to get things done in a rapid way when you’re responding to the disruptive environment and your customers.”

The traditional application development process is both complicated and multilayered. It entails zeroing in on the business need, evaluating and assessing the idea, submitting the application development request to IT, getting evaluations and approvals to secure funding, designing, creating and producing, and doing user testing.

“Traditionally it’s a lengthy process with many people involved,” Zhong says. “This can take quite a few weeks and often longer.” Not only does the time workers spend accrue but various costs also quickly add up. “The new way of application development reduces complexity, tremendously shortens the process, and puts application development more in users’ hands.”

Here are some other benefits of no-code/low-code solutions over the traditional approach:

Projects are more malleable. “With local solutions, you can make changes quicker,” says Kelli Smith, GEP’s head of product management for platform. With fewer levels of approval and cooks in the kitchen, it’s easy to tweak ideas on the fly and make improvements to applications as you go.

Ideas are less likely to get lost in translation. With traditional development, sometimes ideas aren’t perfectly translated into a product. With the user at the helm working closely with IT, ideas are more likely to be accurately executed.

IT and the business work better together. No-code and low-code solutions are typically driven by someone close to the business, but IT is still involved in an advisory role — especially in initial stages. The relationship becomes more of a collaborative one. “The business is developing together with IT,” Smith says.

Developers are freed up for more complex work. With the business more involved in application development, IT workers’ time is freed up to dedicate to more complicated tasks and projects rather than an excess of manual or administrative work.

Often, moving away from traditional application development is a process for enterprises. Companies may start with low-code solutions and gradually shift toward no-code solutions. The evolution requires a culture change, vision from leadership, and endorsement from IT.

Importantly, employees also need to be empowered to participate.

GEP believes that no-code/low-code is the way of the future. The company is leading efforts in no-code and low-code solutions through partners and investments in solutions. “In today’s environment,” Zhong says, “no-code/low-code is simply key to giving enterprises more flexibility.”

At GEP we help companies with transformative, holistic supply chain solutions so they can become more agile and resilient. Our end-to-end comprehensive, unified solutions harness technology to change organizations for the better. To find out more, visit GEP.

Supply Chain

Modernization journeys are complex and typically highly custom, dependent on an enterprise’s core business challenges and overall competitive goals. Yet one way to simplify transformation and accelerate the process is using an industry-specific approach. Any vertical modernization approach should balance in-depth, vertical sector expertise with a solutions-based methodology that caters to specific business needs.

As part of their partnership, IBM and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are pursuing a variety of industry-specific blueprints and solutions designed to help customers modernize apps for a hybrid IT environment, which includes AWS Cloud.

The solutions, some in pilot stage and others in early development, transcend a variety of core industries, including manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and transportation.

These industry solutions bring to bear both IBM and AWS’ deep-seated expertise in the specific security, interoperability, and data governance requirements impacting vertical sectors. Such an approach ensures that app modernization efforts meet any relevant certification requirements and solve business-specific problems.

“A general modernization path brings the technical assets together whereas an industry-focused initiative is more of a problem-solving, solutions-oriented design,” says Praveena Varadarajan, modernization offering leader and strategist for IBM’s Hybrid Cloud Migration Group.

With the right industry solution and implementation partner in place, organizations can steer towards effective modernization. Along with the proper technologies and tools, the right consulting partners can help accelerate transformation, specifically if they can together demonstrate deep and diverse expertise, modernization patterns, and industry-specific blueprints.

Consider the critical area of security controls, for example. Companies across industries have core requirements related to data security and governance controls, yet different industries have uniquely focused considerations.

In healthcare, securing personal health data is key, governed by national standards laid out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).The financial services industry must adhere to a different set of security requirements, from protecting Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to safeguards that meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, meant to protect credit card holder’s information.

“Industry verticals have different compliance and regulatory issues that have to be taken into consideration when doing any type of refactoring or app modernization,” notes Hilton Howard, global migration and modernization lead at AWS. “Healthcare and life sciences companies have different governance and compliance concerns along with issues on how data is managed compared to technology companies or those in energy and financial services.”

AWS/IBM’s Industry Edge

IBM and AWS have put several mechanisms and programs in place to codify their rich vertical industry expertise and make it easily accessible to customers in critical sectors. IBM and AWS experts collaborate to identify potential joint offerings and solution blueprints designed to provide a modernization roadmap that is a level up from a general technical guide. Much of the guidance and deliverables is codified from joint initiatives conducted with large customers to provide an accelerated problem-solving path to a wider audience. The deliverables could be reference architectures or an industry-specific proof of concept—the goal is to offer institutional knowledge and near-turn-key solutions meant to streamline modernization and accelerate time-to-value.

“Sometimes it’s best practices or a solution design or some combination,” Varadarajan says. “It’s about bringing internal or external tools to bear to solve specific business issues.”

In addition, AWS and IBM are working on complex transformation aimed at large-scale transformation and modernization efforts. This will help enterprise customers adopt new digital operating models structurally and prescriptively, and transform with AWS to deliver strategic business outcomes. The program builds a meaningful partnership between AWS, IBM, and the client, and delivers an integrated program underpinned by a tailored playbook that delivers the clients’ prioritized initiatives enabled by AWS, while developing sustainable organizational capabilities for continuous transformation.

“Applying an industry lens keeps solutions grounded to the guiding principles of the business,” Varadarajan says. “The goal of transformation is not just to become more modern, but to change the way companies adapt to the new norms of running a business in the digital world.”

United’s Revenue Management Modernization Takes Flight

United Airlines took to the cloud to modernize its Revenue Management system to reduce costs, but also to land on a platform that didn’t limit its ability to apply modern revenue management processes. The airline also sought to provide analysts with finer data access controls so they could be more analytical and creative when driving revenue management decisions.

Working with AWS and IBM, United created and scaled a data warehouse using Amazon Redshift, an off-the-shelf service that manages terabytes of data with ease. Critical success factors included embracing DevOps practices, emphasis on disaster recovery, and system stability, and continuous review of design and migration decisions. Next stop: Migrating a complex forecasting module planned for later in 2022.

To learn more visit https://www.ibm.com/consulting/aws

Application Management

Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions (FHCS), the winner of the 50th Anniversary Legend award of this year’s SAP Innovation Awards 2022, has been providing market-leading cleaning solutions that keep millions of homes worldwide hygienic and safe since 1849. 

The Challenge: Planning in Silos 

At the start of the project, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions, which operates in 35 countries, had a disjointed supply chain planning process. Information was collected from multiple, disparate data sources, and planners were using different tools. This hampered the company from having an enterprise-wide view. The company also wanted to improve forecasting accuracy by harnessing the power of intelligent technologies.

Achieve 10x faster-planning cycles despite having larger data volumes 

FHCS integrated its landscape built on SAP ERP and SAP Business Warehouse with specialized forecasting in SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP). This enabled the company to generate simulations, planning, and reporting solutions based on SAP Analytics Cloud. Connecting the sales, and financial data with production volume data and establishing a single centralized data warehouse enabled planners to understand the profit and loss impact of different planning scenarios. 

“Shifting descriptive analytics to predictive analytics is a huge undertaking for most companies in their digital transformation. With enterprise-wide planning, we built a simulation platform to establish confidence in our predictions and ensure a smooth transition to predictive steering,” said Jochen Moelber, CIO of FHCS. 

Switching from a highly decentralized forecasting process to harmonized planning and forecasting helped Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions significantly improve decision-making. In addition, it helped the leading company to generate more granular planning down to an individual product and customer. 

By standardizing forecasting processes across its consumer products division, the household products manufacturer increased planning accuracy and enabled an enterprise-wide view that resulted in 10X faster-planning cycles despite larger data volumes and greater granularity. 

Act fast when disruption happens 

Siloed processes and disconnected systems are the nightmares of businesses. They not only make it difficult to get an overall picture across the entire company but also make businesses vulnerable to possible risks. Supply chains have been experiencing various challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this means that supply chain planners need to get harmonized, detailed, and enterprise-wide forecasting information to run the business effectively. 

“In a rapidly fluctuating market and with continuing supply chain challenges caused by the COVID- 19 pandemic, forecasting is crucial for us. We need it to ensure we produce enough of the right products at the right time and understand the financial impact of various planning scenarios on our P&L. By harmonizing our planning processes across multiple regions and business functions, we can align operational planning with financial performance,” said Franco Giacomini, Vice President Consumer Europe, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions GmbH. 

It now takes Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions only 2 days to create an initial top-down production plan at the beginning of the planning phase. Combining both operational and financial data as well as detailed product volumes and raw materials helped their business achieve greater transparency. With advanced simulations, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions can now generate immediate insights into the impact of variables on product groups and their operational impact on different planning scenarios.  

Save significant time with reporting automation 

Carrying out planning processes manually by using spreadsheets is not only a time-consuming activity but also error-prone, which adds more anxiety to the ongoing supply chain processes. Knowing this, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions aimed to standardize and automate reporting across different regions. 

“By helping harmonize our planning processes across multiple regions and business functions, SAP Analytics Cloud enables us to align operational planning with financial performance,” FrancoGiacomini explained. 

With a simplified planning process and straightforward user experience enabled by SAP Analytics Cloud, non-technical business users gained the ability to explore data and run complex simulations. They also spend less time on repetitive report preparation, which frees up the team for higher-value work – such as analyses of future trends.  

Would you like to learn more about how Integrated Business Planning solutions can help supply chains be more resilient? Check out the recent IDC Analyst Connection “Build a More Resilient Supply Chain”.

Data Management

Digital transformation has reached a critical juncture within the railway industry. As rail operators embrace new trends in intelligence, sustainability and service, aging telecommunications architecture of more than 20 years ago is unable to meet current and future requirements.

The existing GSM-R train-to-ground communication system can no longer provide sufficient capacity for modern railway stations. Instead, operators are turning to the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) with broad bandwidth and a new decoupling architecture based on LTE and the latest technology to improve performance.

“Digital transformation is a long journey and rail operators need to ‘dream big’. Currently, the most pressing challenge for rail operators is to identify both the pain points and benefits and address them with cost-effective digital solutions—to ‘act small,’” said Xiang Xi, Vice President, Aviation & Rail BU, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

As an industry-leading ICT solution provider, Huawei can help with these transformation efforts in three aspects: by reshaping connectivity, reconstructing the platform, and enabling intelligence. At the upcoming InnoTrans exhibition, Huawei will outline the framework for digitalisation of the railway business and best practices for innovation and showcase smart railway related Solution.

Reshape connectivity

With digitalisation, demand for new services such as train automation, smart maintenance, and others is growing. Current narrowband network has insufficient bandwidth to meet complex network requirements to support these services. Innovative solutions such as FRMCS, Wi-Fi 6 and all-optical networks will enable a more digitalised rail infrastructure.

Huawei FRMCS solution enables wireless communications systems for high throughput, low latency, and reliable connectivity. This solution can support new railway services such as multimedia dispatching communications, trackside IoT, and predictive maintenance.

Reliability in connectivity also requires zero interruptions for real-time service. Wi-Fi 6 Train-to-Ground communication, Railway All-Optical Network using native hard pipeline (NHP) and Urban Rail Cloud-Optical Network based on OTN technology with ultra-low latency, enables no-disruption connectivity to operators’ assets, services, operations and maintenance.

Reconstruct platform

Traditional urban rail lines and service systems, including ATS, AFC, and PIS, are relatively independent. The silo construction of IT resources leads to high construction costs, low resource utilization, and isolation of multiple information systems. The unified construction mode of the urban rail cloud changes these issues.

Huawei’s Urban Rail Cloud Platform solution empowers rail operators to maximise IT resources and improve security and efficiency of operations.

Enable intelligence

As rail operations increase in complexity, rail operators need to gain a better situational awareness in order to manage their assets better and expedite incident response time. The challenges becomes even greater as operators look for ways to improve low-carbon development and other parts of their operations to address sustainability objectives.

Huawei’s Urban Rail Intelligent Operation Center (IOC) solution connects digital environments with physical spaces for improved and integrated situational awareness leading to better decision-making and an efficient and collaborative command.

Next-generation communications technologies will play a critical role in addressing the unique challenges of the rail industry. Cutting-edge solutions such as FRMCS, Wi-Fi 6, and all-optical networks are addressing those challenges to empower the rail industry to modernize for improved safety and reliability of rail lines, while opening new opportunities for innovation.

Register now to find out Huawei’s global experience in the rail industry at the 9th Huawei Global Rail Summit on 22nd September at the Grand Hyatt Berlin in Germany.

Digital Transformation

Many people may not be familiar with the Oshkosh brand, but the manufacturer’s specialty vehicles are hiding in plain sight. Fire trucks, mail delivery trucks, tow and refuse collection vehicles, access equipment, and military vehicles — Oshkosh’s products are everywhere.

In fact, if you watch a network news program covering a skirmish somewhere in the world and spot a formidable-looking vehicle in the background, odds are it was manufactured by the defense division of this innovative company, based in Oshkosh, Wisc. In total, the company has 130 commercial and military vehicle manufacturing/distribution facilities in 24 countries worldwide.

What may not be as obvious is the company’s investments and activities in advanced analytics, digital manufacturing, electrification, intelligent products as well as autonomy and active safety, that are being applied in vehicles today and may one day be used by NASA as it returns to the moon with its planned sustained human exploration project.

While the company is leading technology development for the markets it serves, working behind the scenes is the company’s IT organization, which is charged with delivering digital solutions and useful business intelligence on market conditions, competition, supply chain, and customers. The person leading this effort is Anupam Khare, Oshkosh’s global chief information and digital officer, who keeps his teams sharply focused on key areas such as advanced analytics, AI, cybersecurity, business transformation, infrastructure, resiliency, and digital portfolio management.

Khare readily admits, however, that his most important and critical job is managing and motivating the people within the IT group and in the business. “The broad philosophy here is understanding people and their aspirations, and unlocking their potential to the fullest extent,” he explains.

Khare recently took part in a CIO Executive Council Future Forward podcast interview to provide details on some of the innovative technology initiatives at Oshkosh, as well as the challenges ahead in terms of supply chains, IT talent, and keeping the teams eyes on the road during unpredictable times.

Click on the podcast players below to listen to Parts 1 & 2 of the conversation. The following are edited excerpts from that discussion.

Tim Scannell:  Data is a major focus of most IT organizations today — collecting it from a variety of sources, transforming it into business intelligence, getting it into the hands of the right people within the organization. How extensive is your data-driven strategy today?

Anupam Khare: We started this journey into data analytics and AI in 2019 and it has become very pervasive within the organization. I think we were always a data-driven organization, but what we are doing through AI and analytics is creating a rich data- and decision-making culture. The approach we use is to develop analytical models based on use cases, with a clear definition of business problems and value. So far, we have deployed roughly 71 models with a clear operating income and impact on the business. We have models on safety and HR, but our larger concentrations have been more in supply chain and the sales area. It’s a question of prioritization where the value is highest, but we have scattered these models everywhere.

I imagine these models have a direct impact on the customer experience.

Khare: Yes, they do. If you look at the broader theme, we are making decision-making more intelligent, and therefore more predictive in nature. The result of that is the customer gets products on time. While we can’t directly attribute this to a single effort, it definitely helps our business help our customers.

How close do these models and intelligence initiatives align with the business in terms of objectives and priorities? Is there a multi-divisional decision process that takes place to decide projects and activities?

Khare: We have a two-tiered decision-making process. One is focused on enterprise decisions, where every year I outline a process, basically a white paper on digital trends and how digital technology can help the enterprise. An example of that enterprise-level digital strategy and alignment process was the creation of three advanced capabilities: AI and analytics, intelligent automation, and digital manufacturing. The CEO leadership is involved in this process. The second tier is at the divisional level, or business segments, where we look at focus areas for each segment’s objectives for a particular year and even three to five years out.

In addition, we also have a cross-business portfolio enablement process where we prioritize the value and investment and outline how we focus on higher value projects. This portfolio process has helped us in reducing the number of projects we do and increasing focus on those projects that have the greatest impact on the business. Portfolio enablement completes the circle.

Many organizations today say they’re committed to creating an innovative culture. What do you see being the characteristics of an effective and vibrant IT culture, and how do you as a leader promote the growth and development of this culture?

Khare:  We have what I call a competency framework and it is something that our leaders collectively create. We call it CARE because we care for you as a customer, and we care for your outcomes. There are two meanings, however. Internally, the ‘C’ in care stands for our customer obsession, ‘A’ represents agility, ‘R’ is for results, and ‘E’ stands for entrepreneurship.

What we are doing through CARE is nurturing an environment. Our leaders are highlighting and connecting individual employees through examples and how they are demonstrating these principles. We also have a celebration and award process to recognize people, in a broader setting, who exemplify any of these competencies in their roles. We started this journey three and a half years ago and what we are seeing are more and more ideas coming from team members in the incremental innovation side and also in the broader, disruptive innovation side.

We are living in uncertain times, where almost every day brings a new challenge. How do you deal with uncertainties and where do you see technologies like AI or ML helping out in this respect?

Khare: I look at uncertainty at two tiers. One is macro-level uncertainties, and the second is micro-level. The pandemic falls into the macro-level because we really can’t predict those kinds of events. Micro-level uncertainties, however, are good cases where analytics and AI can be injected to solve a problem. Last year, for example, we developed a predictive model for parts shortages that helps us better understand a supplier’s past behavior and the different sources related to that. Using the mode, we can predict with a high degree of accuracy whether the part will arrive late or not. We know this a couple of weeks in advance and are able to make a production decision on sourcing this part. There are so many uncertainties like this in running a business where analytics and AI can and is helping us.

Analytics, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics

Many people may not be familiar with the Oshkosh brand, but the manufacturer’s specialty vehicles are hiding in plain sight. Fire trucks, mail delivery trucks, tow and refuse collection vehicles, access equipment, and military vehicles — Oshkosh’s products are everywhere.

In fact, if you watch a network news program covering a skirmish somewhere in the world and spot a formidable-looking vehicle in the background, odds are it was manufactured by the defense division of this innovative company, based in Oshkosh, Wisc. In total, the company has 130 commercial and military vehicle manufacturing/distribution facilities in 24 countries worldwide.

What may not be as obvious is the company’s investments and activities in advanced analytics, digital manufacturing, electrification, intelligent products as well as autonomy and active safety, that are being applied in vehicles today and may one day be used by NASA as it returns to the moon with its planned sustained human exploration project.

While the company is leading technology development for the markets it serves, working behind the scenes is the company’s IT organization, which is charged with delivering digital solutions and useful business intelligence on market conditions, competition, supply chain, and customers. The person leading this effort is Anupam Khare, Oshkosh’s global chief information and digital officer, who keeps his teams sharply focused on key areas such as advanced analytics, AI, cybersecurity, business transformation, infrastructure, resiliency, and digital portfolio management.

Khare readily admits, however, that his most important and critical job is managing and motivating the people within the IT group and in the business. “The broad philosophy here is understanding people and their aspirations, and unlocking their potential to the fullest extent,” he explains.

Khare recently took part in a CIO Executive Council Future Forward podcast interview to provide details on some of the innovative technology initiatives at Oshkosh, as well as the challenges ahead in terms of supply chains, IT talent, and keeping the teams eyes on the road during unpredictable times.

Click on the podcast players below to listen to Parts 1 & 2 of the conversation. The following are edited excerpts from that discussion.

Tim Scannell:  Data is a major focus of most IT organizations today — collecting it from a variety of sources, transforming it into business intelligence, getting it into the hands of the right people within the organization. How extensive is your data-driven strategy today?

Anupam Khare: We started this journey into data analytics and AI in 2019 and it has become very pervasive within the organization. I think we were always a data-driven organization, but what we are doing through AI and analytics is creating a rich data- and decision-making culture. The approach we use is to develop analytical models based on use cases, with a clear definition of business problems and value. So far, we have deployed roughly 71 models with a clear operating income and impact on the business. We have models on safety and HR, but our larger concentrations have been more in supply chain and the sales area. It’s a question of prioritization where the value is highest, but we have scattered these models everywhere.

I imagine these models have a direct impact on the customer experience.

Khare: Yes, they do. If you look at the broader theme, we are making decision-making more intelligent, and therefore more predictive in nature. The result of that is the customer gets products on time. While we can’t directly attribute this to a single effort, it definitely helps our business help our customers.

How close do these models and intelligence initiatives align with the business in terms of objectives and priorities? Is there a multi-divisional decision process that takes place to decide projects and activities?

Khare: We have a two-tiered decision-making process. One is focused on enterprise decisions, where every year I outline a process, basically a white paper on digital trends and how digital technology can help the enterprise. An example of that enterprise-level digital strategy and alignment process was the creation of three advanced capabilities: AI and analytics, intelligent automation, and digital manufacturing. The CEO leadership is involved in this process. The second tier is at the divisional level, or business segments, where we look at focus areas for each segment’s objectives for a particular year and even three to five years out.

In addition, we also have a cross-business portfolio enablement process where we prioritize the value and investment and outline how we focus on higher value projects. This portfolio process has helped us in reducing the number of projects we do and increasing focus on those projects that have the greatest impact on the business. Portfolio enablement completes the circle.

Many organizations today say they’re committed to creating an innovative culture. What do you see being the characteristics of an effective and vibrant IT culture, and how do you as a leader promote the growth and development of this culture?

Khare:  We have what I call a competency framework and it is something that our leaders collectively create. We call it CARE because we care for you as a customer, and we care for your outcomes. There are two meanings, however. Internally, the ‘C’ in care stands for our customer obsession, ‘A’ represents agility, ‘R’ is for results, and ‘E’ stands for entrepreneurship.

What we are doing through CARE is nurturing an environment. Our leaders are highlighting and connecting individual employees through examples and how they are demonstrating these principles. We also have a celebration and award process to recognize people, in a broader setting, who exemplify any of these competencies in their roles. We started this journey three and a half years ago and what we are seeing are more and more ideas coming from team members in the incremental innovation side and also in the broader, disruptive innovation side.

We are living in uncertain times, where almost every day brings a new challenge. How do you deal with uncertainties and where do you see technologies like AI or ML helping out in this respect?

Khare: I look at uncertainty at two tiers. One is macro-level uncertainties, and the second is micro-level. The pandemic falls into the macro-level because we really can’t predict those kinds of events. Micro-level uncertainties, however, are good cases where analytics and AI can be injected to solve a problem. Last year, for example, we developed a predictive model for parts shortages that helps us better understand a supplier’s past behavior and the different sources related to that. Using the mode, we can predict with a high degree of accuracy whether the part will arrive late or not. We know this a couple of weeks in advance and are able to make a production decision on sourcing this part. There are so many uncertainties like this in running a business where analytics and AI can and is helping us.

Analytics, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics

Fundaments, A VMware Cloud Verified partner operating from seven data centers located throughout the Netherlands, and a team of more than 50 vetted and experienced experts – all of whom are Dutch nationals – is growing rapidly. With an expanding customer base that includes public and private-sector leaders, demand for the company’s solutions is being driven by enterprises that must monitor their data and ensure that it remains on Dutch soil at all times.

We recently connected with Larik-Jan Verschuren, chief technology officer at Fundaments, to learn more about the company’s recently announced honor of being the first to earn the VMware Sovereign Cloud distinction in the Netherlands, find out what’s driving the demand for sovereign approaches to data management, and get his thoughts on future demand.

“One of the unique things about Fundaments is that we offer a mission-critical, sovereign cloud and Infrastructure-as-a-Service for managed service providers and independent software companies as well as other private-sector businesses and government agencies,” says Verschuren. “Sovereignty means having true control from A to Z – from the physical hardware and services that are located here in the Netherlands, to the engineers operating workloads, and everything that is under their orchestration and management. At Fundaments, all data is stored in the Netherlands and we have a completely Dutch organization. Customers’ data is not exposed to any foreign input in any way.”

Verschuren notes that Fundaments, which operates a network of seven tier-3 datacenters across the nation, chose to achieve the VMware Sovereign Cloud distinction after seeing a significant increase in demand for data to be stored in the Netherlands. Just as importantly, these same enterprises had to be able to demonstrate certification and compliance with sovereignty requirements.

“Due to the increase in globalization and digitization more and more data is being used in the cloud, and more and more companies find it important to know that this data, their most important asset, is accessible and safe on a Dutch cloud platform,” adds Verschuren. “The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also prompted companies to think carefully about where their data is stored and the sovereignty issues that must be considered to be compliant.”

Verschuren also notes that compliance officers and chief information security officers are increasingly mindful of data integrity and demand the strongest levels of protection. Simultaneously, the pandemic accelerated digitization and contributed to the growing demand for innovation, analytics, and the capabilities the cloud delivers. Both factors directed organizations to Fundaments.

“By virtue of our VMware Sovereign Cloud status and the innovation and focus on compliance inherent in our work, Fundaments fulfills all of these needs,” he says. “Our customers know that their data sovereignty requirements will be met and that they are compliant with all relevant regulations here in the Netherlands – all on a platform that enables them to transform their businesses with the power of the cloud.”

Notably, Fundaments has worked extensively with VMware for years while serving its customers.

“We of course aren’t new at offering sovereign cloud services,” says Verschuren. “For two decades we’ve built our hosting operation around geographically dispersed, high security data centers in the Netherlands,” says Verschuren. “We wanted our cloud offerings to be a fully certified, all Dutch answer to the large hyperscalers, and we wanted them to be utterly stable, reliable, and scalable – qualities that differently reflect the VMware technologies we use in our platform and services.”

Verschuren believes that the demand for sovereign cloud services will only grow in light of geopolitical events and efforts to protect personal information. He also predicts that Fundaments’ ability to provide highly personalized service 24/7 will remain a significant differentiator for organizations that need to manage sensitive workloads that demand sovereignty.

“Our customers can consult with one of our engineers within minutes on any day and at any time,” he says. “With our focus on technology, processes, and people we are able to embrace and address the constantly evolving IT needs of our customers and our partners in an environment that is purpose-built to meet and exceed the most demanding sovereignty requirements.”

Learn more about Fundaments and its partnership with VMware, here.

Cloud Computing, IT Leadership

The pace of business is accelerating. Enterprises today require the robust networks and infrastructure required to effectively manage and protect an ever-increasing volume of data. They must also deliver the speed and low-latency great customer experiences require in an era marked by dramatic innovations in edge computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things, unified communications, and other singular computing trends now synonymous with business success.

We recently caught up with Mike Fuhrman, Chief Product and Information Officer at Flexential, to learn how the company is helping customers gain the connectivity and cloud solutions they need and what it means to be VMware Cloud Verified. We also took the opportunity to learn what he sees as the next big transformative trends in cloud computing.

“We serve companies in numerous industries, including those in software and IT services, manufacturing, finance, insurance, retail, health care, transportation, media and Internet, and telecommunications,” says Fuhrman. “The kinds of organizations that benefit most from our unique approach are those that require a seamless and integrated solution, low-latency connectivity across North America and beyond—and access to an all-inclusive solution from a single vendor so they can offload as much or as little of the IT management burden as they want. Organizations also turn to us for access to an extensive bench of professional services and IT experts who can assist in everything from strategy and design to implementation, ongoing management and optimization regardless of how their businesses scale.” 

Flexential’s 40 state-of-the-art data centers in North America – located in metropolitan areas across the country to ensure short hops and low latency – are connected by a 100 Gbps network backbone that is easily upgradable to 400 Gbps for those customers that require ultra-high speeds. Notably, the company offers cloud solutions with built-in security and compliance to the hypervisor for the peace of mind that results when infrastructure is audit-ready at all times. Industry-leading SLAs also guarantee that applications and the data within and used by them – the very lifeblood of the enterprise – is always accessible and protected.

The company’s unified cloud platform, FlexAnywhere™, integrates colocation, cloud, edge, connectivity, data protection, and the managed and professional services to deliver a true hybrid IT approach. Flexential also offers two types of private clouds, a hosted private cloud with dedicated resources for compute, networking and storage; and Advanced Access, a hosted private cloud offering that enables enterprises to maintain control of the provider-owned VMware vCenter server. An industry-first, it allows for greater personalization in a virtual environment that performs and functions like an on-premise solution.

Flexential also provides a managed public cloud service that lets customers use AWS and Azure, through a managed, consumption-based model that ensures they only pay for the public cloud services and capacity they use. And the Flexential Cloud Fabric, a Network-as-a-Service solution, makes it easy to spin-up, configure and manage all cloud connections from a single pane of glass, an innovation that makes true multi-cloud operations a reality.

The company also offers Desktop-as-a-Service, Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, managed containers, as well as managed services for networking and infrastructure, security, and compliance. Addition services address each stage of the cloud journey, from design and migration to optimization.

All of the company’s cloud offerings are based on VMware technology. This includes vSphere, HCX, vROps, NSX accessed through Flexential’s FXP portal, which is tightly integrated with VMware vCloud Director.

“Being VMware Cloud Verified is important to us because it not only allows us to demonstrate Flexential delivering best-of-class solutions to our customers today, but it also contributes to an important strategic partnership that allows us to innovate and easily deliver market-leading future enhancements to our customers going forward,” adds Fuhrman. “Being VMware Cloud Verified is also important for our customers because it gives them the confidence and assurance that our cloud solutions utilize best-in-class network, storage, and compute solutions that are future-proofed and based on industry-leading technology that will continue to leverage market-leading innovations.”

Fuhrman notes that this confidence and assurance will be crucial as enterprises embrace what he sees as the next big transformative trend in cloud computing. It’s a trend he says already has significant momentum and will be increasingly commonplace in the near-term future.

“Multi-cloud deployments that enable enterprises to capitalize on the strengths of individual clouds for specific use cases, software-defined data centers, and enhancements to virtualized networks are where we will see a dramatic increase in activity,” says Fuhrman. “And that will only increase as more organizations stretch workloads across multi-cloud environments to dramatically improve customer experiences and simultaneously lowering their overall IT costs.”

Learn more about Flexential and its partnership with VMware here.

Cloud Computing, IT Leadership

The tenth largest IT service provider in the world, Fujitsu’s more than 124,000 employees can be found on the leading edge of digital transformation in virtually every industry. These include the automotive, financial services, health care, law enforcement, manufacturing, and retail sectors. It is also found in efforts to accelerate environmental, social, and governance efforts.

We recently caught up with Antonio Medianero, director of cloud application at Fujitsu Services España S.A. to learn more about the company’s cloud services and solutions, what it means to be VMware Cloud Verified, and what he sees as the next big thing in cloud. We also took the opportunity to explore Fujitsu’s vision for hybrid IT.

“On the most basic level, as a company we have more than 80 years of experience working in various industries around the world,” says Medianero. “We design, develop, implement, manage and optimize the systems businesses of all kinds need to address their operational, application, and infrastructure needs.”

Fujitsu offers a wide range of consulting services and infrastructure and business continuity solutions. Its team of cloud specialists helps clients deliver services to their customers and achieve strong, seamless operations that reflect the power of the cloud and the innumerable technological gains it makes possible.

“Everything we provide, from rapid advice and guidance to extensive application services, robust platforms, and multi-cloud functionality, reflects the breadth and depth of our teams’ technical and business expertise,” he says. “We scale to meet demand, offer new ways of working, create the foundations for future growth, and design clouds that meet the cost, data protection, compliance, and security requirements of our customers. We believe it’s imperative for enterprises to have the freedom and flexibility to use the right cloud for every task, application, and business need.”

Fujitsu supports all major public clouds. The company’s Fujitsu Cloud is a private cloud based on VMware technology that delivers high levels of security and privacy to ensure that sensitive operations and data are protected. Fujitsu also offers Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Containers-as-a-Service, and Platform-as-a-Service in private cloud environments.

“For hybrid cloud we seamlessly combine public, private, and managed cloud infrastructures with traditional on-premises IT,” he adds. “We can do this on a modest budget to ensure that every customer’s hybrid IT integration is as cost-effective as possible. Our approach provides an intelligent architecture that seamlessly integrates into the existing environment through a management framework that can adapt and evolve as business needs change. It also offers the right mix of services for the rapid deployment of new cloud-based solutions while ensuring strict alignment with governance, compliance, privacy, and security needs – all while enabling data availability across any geography and device.”

Notably, Fujitsu’s PRIMEFLEX is an integrated system that includes pre-configured, pre-tested hybrid cloud-enabled systems – including those for VMware technologies – and all of the services needed to offer a fast path for the development of hybrid data architectures. PRIMEFLEX accelerates the entire process, including design, deployment, and maintenance. It also lets customers easily turn their on-premises infrastructure into a private cloud, introduce cloud pricing models, and connect on-premise systems to the cloud of their choice.

“Our hybrid cloud solutions and services enable growth, reduce risk, lower costs, and increase productivity,” says Medianero. “They also deliver the centralized control that is so important in a world where business units are using the cloud directly.”

Medianero stresses that being VMware Cloud Verified is an important distinction for the Fujitsu team in Spain. It also reflects a longstanding and productive partnership between both companies.

“The VMware Cloud Verified distinction is an important milestone for us because it demonstrates to those in Spain that we comply with, and achieve, the highest standards,” he says. “Fujitsu and VMware’s longstanding partnership also allows us to leverage world-class public and private cloud-based technologies to drive fast-paced continuity strategies. Whether an organization is looking for the performance, resilience, and control of the private cloud or the scale, innovation, and changeability of the public cloud, together we can offer the ideal solutions, services, and seamless integration needed to fully support those efforts and the work of employees today and tomorrow.”

Learn more about Fujitsu Spain and its partnership with VMware here or review success stories from across the globe.

Cloud Management, IT Leadership