Core Solutions: Bearing Witness to Success
This season finale is all about optimizing your infrastructure. Join us as Insight Senior Vice President of Services Mike Gaumond discusses the real-world successes of three of our largest clients. Find out how these companies effectively transformed their businesses, achieved their business goals and drove down costs.
Episode 6 – Bearing Witness to Success
Published July 21, 2017
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Robyn Itule: We are back with a brand spanking new episode of Technomics. I’m so excited to be sitting in front of the microphone with a great crowd around the table today. I’ve got Curt Cornum with me.
Curt Cornum: Hey Robyn.
Robyn Itule: How are you?
Curt Cornum: I’m doing great, how about you?
Robyn Itule: I’m really good. And our guest today is Mr. Mike Gaumond. How are you sir?
Mike Gaumond: I’m doing well, how are you Robyn?
Robyn Itule: I’m doing very well. I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation which is kind of our case-study wrap up of the Infrastructure Optimization Season because it’s a while. And you almost get a chance to reflect a little bit on some of the conversations we have had since we last got to sit down. And we actually did some interesting surveys between the last time we recorded and today. And so the Insight Intelligent Technology Index was actually recently released and the focus of some conversation today, which is going to take us to hybrid cloud, real-time business, and intelligent networking, those topics are covered in some of what we checked out in the survey. So I’ll give you a couple data points to respond to. I respond to emotion, other people respond to numbers. But so we want to speak to all of our audiences. Something we saw was that legacy infrastructure is still a huge, huge barrier for some organizations. They are worried about the kind of disruption that they can bring to the business in terms of failure. But they’re also worried about the kind of disruption that can come to business in terms of implementing cloud. And about a third of the respondents said that their implementing services would be too disruptive to their organization. And another 59% of the personnel that we interviewed said that they believe that their data environment is safer after investing in cloud services. So you really have a two sides of the coin conversation filling up the pros and cons list for getting into an on-premise/off-premise hybrid model.
Curt Cornum: Absolutely, I think Mike might have been the one that told me a lot of technologies that were hyped in the short-term, and then they’re hyped in the long-term. And I think we’ve certainly seen that with cloud. And I think some of the concerns on security kind of flipped on their head and folks are kind of looking at some of the security features that are actually inherent in some of the public cloud offering. So its interesting but I think as we had the conversation today, we’re going to realize its not an either/or type of situation, that we live in a hybrid world in more ways than one. I think that includes the compute environments that we’re going to have in most organizations as we move forward as well. Definitely interesting times and I think infrastructure optimization is an important part of it because it really drives the things we talk about a lot about with our clients. Which is how do they help enhance the engagement they’re having with their customers? And then how do they really enable their future and current workforce as well. Those are important aspects but you’ve got to have the infrastructure in place to make that happen. So its an important part of it and interesting times for sure.
Robyn Itule: I mean we’re all nodes on the network right?
Curt Cornum: We are, yes in one, in probably multiple nodes these days as it turns out.
Mike Gaumond: Hopefully my meaning in life is slightly deeper than a network.
Curt Cornum: Than a node, than being known as a node.
Robyn Itule: So oversimplified. So with all of that in mind, I’d love to start talking about some of the real deal conversations and actual projects that we’ve been able to help clients though in terms of getting their hybrid cloud into place. Really benefiting their organization without too much disruption. Leveraging real time business in order to better engage and enable the workforce. And also, use intelligent networking to help optimize large organizations and handle workload. Mike pick your poison. Do you want hybrid cloud, real-time business, or intelligent networking?
Mike Gaumond: You kind of lead off with the hybrid cloud so maybe we should start there.
Robyn Itule: Sounds like a plan.
Curt Cornum: So Mike I have a question if I could jump in around not a solution, because I know you go visit clients and some things that are actually driving then. What are the market drivers, what are the challenges that they’re saying, “We think that there’s a better solution than having us build it all on prem.” What are some of the realities that you’re seeing out there?
Mike Gaumond: I guess I’d point to a few things. First, back to your prior comment. There was definitely an irrational exuberance phase for public cloud when the whole world started thinking everybody’s going to move to public cloud, nothing is going to be left in private cloud. And the pendulum started swinging back the other way when people were getting these huge bills for public cloud and saying, “Wait, wait, wait. This is pretty expensive.” And the reality is setting in now that almost every client we talk to is going to have some amount of private cloud that they keep on premise whether that’s their own data center or a colo [assumed]. And some amount of workloads up in the public cloud. But from a business driver perspective, what I really see clients struggling with is that their legacy infrastructure isn’t enabling them the kind of business agility that a hybrid public cloud solution could enable. And specifically, I’m talking about creating the capability for their business to be able to do things like launch a new product faster than they’ve done in the past or enter a new market more quickly or integrate an acquisition more seamlessly then they have in the past. So that’s what’s driving companies to make that investment, that business pressure to compete more effectively than they ever have in the past.
Robyn Itule: Another notable stat we got from the survey was that nearly half of respondents have migrated more than 50% of corporate application workloads to private cloud. Yet, that leaves the other half sitting somewhere on site.
Mike Gaumond: Yeah and even if you believe the more aggressive projections for public cloud growth, there will be a significant portion of infrastructure that remained a private cloud environment for at least another five or ten years would be my bet, and what most of the analysts are saying. So where that leads, a lot of our clients are wrestling with which of my workloads and applications should I keep in public cloud and which ones should I keep in private cloud? And how do I think about that in some sort of objective fashion?
Robyn Itule: And how do we think about it.
Curt Cornum: I’m sorry Robyn, it seemed like before, initially folks were looking at as a cost savings measure. They thought, “Hey it’s a way I can scale how my organization, I don’t have to buy hardware that I don’t use.” But it seems like its really changed now and its much more rounded. How does it help me transform my own business? How does it help me be more agile? Like you spoke to before, not that cost isn’t a criteria. The whole Cap-ex to Op-ex which seemed to be the original driver; I think is maybe anecdotal, maybe there’s data behind it. But its taken a back seat to just the fact that people want that kind of agility. They want that kind of flexibility, be able to move quicker to the market which seems to be changing, like you mentioned Robyn, its changed since last time we had a conversation.
Mike Gaumond: Cost still matters, so our clients still care about that; they’re balancing the cost of public to private. But yet its really about what’s the right infrastructure for me to deliver the agility that my business client is requiring or demanding?
Robyn Itule: Alright, we’re going to take a quick break and when we come back, we’re going to hear about a solution that we actually got to deploy around hybrid cloud and how that’s changing some of the outlook for our Insight client.
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Robyn Itule: Alright and we are already back to hear about how we actually put hybrid cloud to work in a pretty interesting example. So Mike share with us how we were able to help a business transform with some hybrid cloud approaches.
Mike Gaumond: Happy to. The client here is an independent Coca Cola bottler. And they faced a couple of business challenges. I framed this all as business agility. So their business challenges were first, they were trying to drive significant inorganic growth in the business. And second, Coca Cola Inc., the company that makes all the products we know and love, has decided that bottling is not their core competency and they’re exiting that part of the business and they’re selling those assets to independent bottlers like our client. Now the challenge our client had was that their legacy IT infrastructure wouldn’t allow them to add in that new capacity from the parent company and drive that kind of organic growth that they were trying to achieve in the business. So the IT structure was becoming the long pole in the tent for growing the business. So we helped them and we started by taking an assessment driven approach. So we look at their infrastructure, the active directory environment, their network, and then even their applications and workloads, to help understand what their starting point is in order to develop a roadmap for them. And as part of that, we asses their applications and workloads from a strategic, a functional, and a technical perspective. And we do that though some proprietary digital discovery tools we have coupled with running client workshops at the location. And one of the interesting outputs we create for that is a roadmap for our clients for where those workloads should land in a new hybrid world. And we put them into one of four buckets. So the first bucket is, this is an application and workload that we believe makes sense to keep on premise in a private cloud environment. The second category are applications that should be rearchitected for infrastructure as a service or platform as a service environment. The third category are applications we believe they should replace with a standard SaaS (Software as a Service) offering. In other words, there’s a better off the shelf tool out there you can use. And the fourth important category are ones they should retire or end of life. And by starting with the applications at workload, we can then develop a roadmap for their infrastructure on both the pubic and the private side and help them put that in place. And for this particular client, we’re in the midst of implementing that infrastructure, and its going to allow them to triple the capacity of their business from about a 500 million dollar to a 1.5 billion dollar company in 18 months.
Robyn Itule: Yowzah
Mike Gaumond: So that’s pretty transformational.
Robyn Itule: That’s really impressive.
Curt Cornum: I think that’s the kind of agility that we talked about earlier. Its about that ability to move your business that quickly which would be almost impossible to do if you had to try and do that all on premise.
Mike Gaumond: Not only all on premise but even with a tradition premise, fragmented reality environment. If you have a true private cloud with converged or hyperconverged stacks and automation and orchestration, it is so much more rapid for you to support the change in the business side.
Curt Cornum: Yeah that’s a good point, it isn’t necessarily location dependent. Its what kind of automation, orchestration tools you’re bringing to bare just to make you much more agile from an operational standpoint as well.
Robyn Itule: And I mean, when you talk about business outcomes, at the ned of the day the ability to move fast is becoming a part of the DNA. Its thrive or die. Which seems a little bit harsh, but I think you look a little bit at some of the examples that are out there of people who were running organizations that didn’t believe they were technology companies versus some of their competition who felt that at their core, they were a technology company or were becoming a technology company and the results are pretty radical.
Mike Gaumond: I get the opportunity to spend a lot of time with our clients and in the last five years, I can’t think of a single client who didn’t say that their competitive environment was more intense than it was in the past. The pace of change is faster than its been in the past. The ability to track and retain the right kind of talent in their organization is more difficult than its ever been in the past. So the market’s getting tougher, not easier.
Robyn Itule: Dare I say business has become real-time.
Curt Cornum: Which, in a sense is code for the Internet of things. Real time business I think folks can kind of wrap their head around what that means. The Internet of things means a lot of things to other folks. But its interesting the connection between what we just talked about and from a hybrid cloud environment because a lot of the real time business solutions that we see today run on platforms. So folks may not get that unless they’ve kind of started to go down that path on how they use these sensor-enabled products and the analytics driven data that’s coming from that, that really lends itself from a platform based solution and by definition means you’re going to be in a hybrid environment. So exactly what Mike had just talked about, really plays into the real-time business piece. But there’s a whole other set of technologies that are being brought to bare. And its really around getting data off of things that we wouldn’t have necessarily gotten them off of. And I think a lot of times around real-time business, folks saying around IoT, folks are saying the hype. Some folks say its still at the top of the hype cycle. A lot of folks said this is nothing new, we’ve been pulling analytics and temerity off things for quite some time. But there is a difference now in the way that its being done and at the scale that’s its being done today. So pretty interesting and Mike I know you’ve had a chance to talk to a lot of clients around some of the reasons that they’re driving to try and make their business more real time. And I know its around a couple things that we’ve talked about. Can you maybe elaborate on not the specific solutions, but some of the business benefits? What’s really driving these folks to try and get the information that they just didn’t have before?
Mike Gaumond: Yeah the key thing, and the reason we call it real-time business, is that our clients have historically driven their business though the real-view mirror. So by that I mean they’re looking at historical data, they’re trying to extrapolate it into the future and make decisions on their business and its increasingly difficult given the pace of change. So the notion behind real-time business and the reason we call our IoT solution real-time business is to give our clients the capability to gather that sensor data and make decisions using that data in near-real-time so that they can compete more effectively in the markets they’re in.
Robyn Itule: One of the things we’ve found in our intelligent technology index was that about 50% of the respondents companies are working towards implementing IoT solutions in their business. And you can see why you would want those advantages. I love the way the you talked about it; by looking at your business through the rear-view mirror. And boy is now ever a time for foresight. If you’re looking behind but trying to address things out on horizons one, two and three, you’re at an existential and metaphorical disadvantage. Because those things, I can’t even mash them up.
Curt Cornum: I’m not sure about existential, I can’t even say it, but there are some examples of real time business solutions that revolve around predictive maintenance. And its an interesting are because there’s a lot of value to our clients. [Music starts] We have to take a break here, but when we come back, we’re going to have Mike talk to us about a real-life client example where they’ve been able to sensor enable their devices and take advantage of the Internet of things to supercharge their predictive maintenance.
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Curt Cornum: Hey thanks for staying with us during the break. Let’s dive back into our discussion on predictive maintenance. Mike I know you have an example that you’d like to share with us.
Mike Gaumond: Yeah happy to do so. SO this client is a manufacturer of complex mechanical systems and products that their commercial and industrial clients use. And the challenge they’ve had is that historically, these products aren’t very smart. They perform their function and that’s about all they do. And it led to some real challenges. They had some outages so their system would go down with very little warning. It would cause expensive maintenance for them and an outage for their customer. Or they would actually would do unnecessary maintenance that they would just schedule based on time. That cost them money and they were maintaining equipment that didn’t need to be maintained. So we helped them develop an IoT, real-time business solution. We put sensors and transmitters on each one of these systems at each of their client locations. And what that would do is that each sensor and transmitter would gather 60 data points every 15 seconds and the transmitter would send that to a gateway somewhere in the client’s building. That gateway would then securely upload that data via the Internet to the cloud, and we would wrap analytics around that data and then put that back in the hands of the customers in near-real-time. So what that would enable them to do is things like, they could see a map of the United States. And on that map of the United States, they could see a count in each major city where they had systems deployed. How many systems were there. They could double click on a city and see how many systems were deployed within that city. For example, we’re here in Phoenix, they could see perhaps 500 of these in the city of Phoenix. And they could go to a specific customer of theirs and see how many units were deployed within that building. And across all those views, they could see how many units were on the network, how many were operational, how many had generated alerts and if need be, they could actually double click on a unit and drill into that specific system and get information like what is the power consumption look like? What does the performance efficiency look like? How well is that unit working? Are there any alerts being generated? And they could automatically issue a trouble ticket and dispatch a technician if there was maintenance required on that unit. So imagine now that our clients or their distributors and dealers or their end customers having visibility to this information in near-real-time and being able to make decisions. And what it did was actually significantly reduce their annual maintenance cost and simultaneously increase customer satisfaction because the customers weren’t experiencing the outages. And the transformational piece here is what we actually switch from schedule-based maintenance to condition based maintenance. And by condition-based maintenance, we mean deciding to do maintenance on a unit based on the condition it was actually operating in that actual moment in time. Not based on an arbitrary schedule.
Robyn Itule: I was just thinking about my car, because my car probably needs maintenance. And I wish that I weren’t looking at a sticker in the top part of my windshield and that maybe I could get an alert on my phone and how applicable and transformational that would be for my own purposes.
Mike Gaumond: A lot of cars are actually building in the capability to do exactly that now. So they monitor all this and instead of having to go back to the dealer to have them check and plug in and see what’s going on, they send it to your phone, to your email, to your text message that here’s the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly status of your vehicle and if there’s service required, they might encourage you to go get service done proactively to allow you to schedule it.
Curt Cornum: It’s a great example of these devices and the things that they generate a ton of information. But they tend to be isolated and disconnected from the network. And that’s the change that we’re going to see over the next few years. Many more things are going to be connected and normal, so to speak, will be for us to kind of have that information at our fingertips. And it will change our lives in a lot of ways for the better I think.
Robyn Itule: I think so too. So from smart things to intelligent networks. Intelligent networking is another solution that has been a big part of the discussion recently. Helping our clients understand how to get to unified branches. You’ve got a lot of examples of businesses that if you go back a couple of seasons and listen to the hilarity that was the episode around the Olive Garden breadsticks, I think it pretty well sums up the experience that a unified branch tries to create. So let’s dig in here a little bit. What is in this solution and why is it so valuable for clients working towards optimized infrastructure?
Curt Cornum: Well I’ll take a stab at that because its interesting that there’s a ton of disruption that we hear out in the world today; especially around retail. And when you think retail, you think branches in a lot of case. But it isn’t just a retail play like we think of like a retail store or something like that. For a lot of companies, the branches are the lifeblood of their business. That’s where their brands come to life, that’s where they engage their customers, and especially around the services business. There’s a lot of examples of not just the products side, but just the services too. So when we started looking at that, and looking at that disruption, it doesn’t mean that they’re not being disrupted, there’s a different type of disruption that they’re going through and its around the competitive nature of some of the stuff we’ve already talked about. Where their competitors are more agile than they used to be. They’re trying to engage their customers in a more meaningful way. They’re dealing with a workforce that is transforming in front of their eyes in terms of the expectations that they have when they show up for work. So all of those things really play into what we coin the unified branch environment. Which was how do you take an environment that was probably typically or traditionally bandwidth starved and technology deprived, and how do you transform that into a place where people can actually come and have an experience that they really enjoy. And that the workforce’s been enabled in a way that they can provide that experience to the folks that show up. So its an area that we’ve put a lot of focus on because a lot of our clients are in that environment. We’re trying to help them move their businesses forward.
Robyn Itule: And Mike, what is a great example of how we actually went and did this. What’s the actual real-life application of that super satisfying customer and workforce experience through intelligent networking.
Mike Gaumond: So a great example is a client of ours that runs nearly 1,000 animal hospitals across the United States. And they’ve grown quickly both organically and they grow a lot through acquisition. And they had a challenge if they were unable to integrate acquisitions quickly enough and get everyone onto a common platform so they could deliver those services to their customers and their workforce. So we helped them at nearly a thousand branches upgrade their infrastructure, their route switch network infrastructure as well as their end points. So the thin client devices that their employees and even their customers in the office use. And we did that in a period of a few months to upgrade across nearly a thousand locations and they’ve been able to not only now integrate their new acquisitions much more quickly than they ever could in the past. But their workforce has a much more robust set of tools for example to schedule patients and to track the outcomes with the animals and to communicate back to their customers on a regular basis. So its actually had a big impact on their business.
Curt Cornum: Its interesting I think, you shouldn’t underestimate the bandwidth requirements these days. We’re all hyperconnected and we talked about all these new things that are also being connected. Like you mentioned that we’re all nodes on a network and there’s a lot more of those nodes these days. We actually had a client that was just running into bandwidth problems and they weren’t sure where that was. As it turns out, Mike and I have had this conversation, was they had actually some folks at work who would come in every morning and they would fire up a streaming radio program on their work machines and if you do the math, it only takes about five workers to do that in a typical branch environment to really exhaust all the branch bandwidth. So they try rolling out a new mobile app, it works great in the lab, they roll it out to the branches and they start having issues with it. And its because they actually have workers who just expect to be able to stream music because that’s the age that they’re at. So that’s like the listening to the radio was 20 years ago. And so interesting environments that we’re in and that’s why the infrastructure plays a huge roll in how do you help enable your workforce and provide a better customer experience. That infrastructure’s got to be in place to do that.
Mike Gaumond: So we blocked all radio on their network except for Technomics.
Curt Cornum: Exactly.
Robyn Itule: [Laughter] Well played. We actually, we do a story around this almost every year, around March Madness, which is definitely a seasonal moment. And sometimes a little bit near and dear to my heart. Especially this past year, go Zags [assumed]. And that’s one where you know there’s a Thursday and Friday where everything’s going to just go off the cliff. Because everybody’s trying to get the latest update. And even if they’re just trying to just get the scores coming though, there’s so much happening on ESPN or CBS Sports or whoever you’re collecting the game times from. It’s a lot of data and people expect to get it.
Curt Cornum: Yeah and its interesting, we were out and somebody showed me an app on their phone and it was for their kids little league game, and they were getting information in real-time. And so it isn’t just the big guys and the march madness, there is data being streamed in real time for events and things that you just wouldn’t think about and its creating a huge, huge demands on the infrastructure that we didn’t even imagine a few years ago.
Robyn Itule: Some of the things that we do in our own organization where we have teammates across the country and even across the globe, we do a lot of live streaming. And if you haven’t had a chance to participate one, I really encourage you to get out on www.insight.com and check out some of the conversations that we have. They’re lengthier, we have a bigger cast to characters. It’s a lot of fun. But events like that, we do our corporate events to make sure we get all of our teammates enabled with the information and they get to hear Mike, maybe not live and in the flesh, but they get to see him and they put the face with the name.
Mike Gaumond: Right.
Robyn Itule: So I mean it’s a great way to enable the workforce, but it takes a hefty, it takes a very big pipe.
Curt Cornum: Right, and I think all the three things we talked about today around the hybrid cloud and the real-time business and then the intelligent networking, they’re all a part of the same story. You don’t have one without the other, they’re actually all kind of feeding each other and enabling our clients in different ways. But they’re very complimentary, so it isn’t like they’re doing one and not doing the other. Its really kind of a holistic story that’s out there for folks to kind of understand how to improve their business.
Robyn Itule: Well that’s going to do it for us. This is the final episode in this season. And we’re very excited because next season we’re talking about operational excellence which is just like a wide open field at the moment. And I’m sure that we will fill it and I’m sure that we will be talking about how to drive costs out of operations. I’m sure that we will be talking about how to transform tomorrow and I’m sure that we will have some great voices like Mike Gaumond and like Curt Cornum joining us back here on Technomics. Thanks for listening.
Curt Cornum: Thanks Robyn.
Robyn Itule: Thanks for listening to Technomics. If you want to find more episodes, you can download the podcasts from iTunes, Google, or your favorite podcast provider. And, for more stories on intelligent technology, visit www.insight.com.