The Future is Demanding, Be Prepared to Adapt

Brent Schroeder


Learning Objectives

To stay relevant and competitive in today's rapidly evolving business environment, companies need to be able to adapt quickly. Learn how to take advantage of cloud solutions to transform your business operations and understand the trade-offs and when to apply different options. And see how other companies have applied the latest solutions to make a material impact to both customer service and the bottom line.

Key Takeaways:

  • Critical elements for a successful cloud strategy

  • Importance of aligning business and IT stakeholders

  • Real-world examples of hybrid/multi-cloud implementations

"Customer expectations have been totally flipped from just 10 to 15 years ago."

Brent Schroeder



Welcome. My name is Brent Schroeder, CTO for SUSE. Looking forward to spending the next few minutes with you talking about some of the challenges and opportunities that lie in front of us as we go through these challenging times.

These past few months have been a wake up call, like businesses have never seen before. As we all began to lay down plans for 2020, a pandemic would disrupt our plans, calling into question investment strategies and business models. Those that could react and adapt most quickly are surviving, some even thriving, while those that couldn’t respond are falling behind, or disappearing altogether. This is not materially different from normal business cycles, just set to a hyper pace. In fact, I think largely to technology, the rate of change for business has been ever increasing over the past few decades, with the most recent decade arguably being the fastest. We can expect more of the same in the decade ahead.

Pandemic aside, the business environment changing faster than ever in ways that we can’t entirely anticipate. Customer expectations have been totally flipped from just 10 to 15 years ago. This is must have a relationship with the customers. Customers expect closer relationships than ever before. In the context of the above two points combined with the rate of change in technology, your competition is moving faster on all sides of you.

Today, I want to talk about some of the trends fueling the pace of change, clouds and cloud native computing, specifically making some of the why tangible, and discussing considerations in planning your move to the cloud. How and why is cloud impacting business? What is the impact? The why and what we read about in the headlines every day—cost, agility, scale, etc. Measurable in business level objectives and revenue impacting cost efficiency, risk mitigation.

Let’s start by setting what the cloud is, and how you should be thinking about it. When you hear the word cloud today, what comes to mind? A vast data center far away that someone else is responsible for? An Amazon, an Azure, or Google Cloud? We need to think about cloud much more abstractly and broadly as an operational model, not as a place. A model inclusive of operational aspects of shared services, and even the paradigm in application architecture and delivery, represented in today’s cloud native applications, and CICD delivery models. When you do that, and apply continual evolution of technology, the cloud model is ever expanding to enable IT organizations to deliver similar services and cost efficiencies from corporate owned or colo data centers as found in public clouds. Even most recently, these models can be extended to encompass edge computing and IoT.

Public cloud just isn’t for everything or everyone, whether it be data impacted or influenced by data sovereignty controls, or cost controls due to the fluid movement of data, the needs for edge computing due to latency or intermittent connectivity. The services that are provided by clouds, application delivery, operational model, those influence the needs or or the choice of what cloud makes the most sense. When taking all this into account, the result is a hybrid computing model or multi cloud computing model is we see in the statistics that north of 80% of customers and as high as 90, 95% of customers will be looking at a hybrid or multi cloud model.

So what we’ll do now is look more closely at the drivers that must be considered when defining your cloud strategy. When I talk about drivers here, I’m not trying to create an exhaustive list, but the big three that can’t be ignored to combine both short term in success and long term sustainability.

Customer experience. This should be a, if not the primary consideration. At a minimum, you want to do no harm to your customers and stakeholder experience as your business moves forward. Preferably, you’re looking at a cloud model to improve customer experience. For example, more agile application delivery, providing more rapid delivery of new capabilities to improve response time or distribute application inputs globally, or deliver better uptime to applications. The key point to consider is how can the cloud help business better serve your customers. After all, you will invest heavily in time and resources to make the change, which is ideal to introduce customer experience improvements.

The next area, the explosive growth of data, and this is a must top three consideration. Where’s your data coming from? How fast is it growing? Who needs access and where? These questions and many more weigh heavily on your options in building a cloud strategy. There are legal implications of ensuring the data is properly handled and secured. There are variable costs aspects of not only storing the data, but moving the data out of or between clouds. You may find that the cost of static storage in the cloud is very favorable, but an application or business need requires extensive movement between localities, which may drive cost materially higher.

Finally, to ensure long term success, you should comprehend appropriate security and governance controls from the very beginning. Who has access? How is it provided? What are some of the usage controls for managing sprawl and consumption? To really try to avoid the growth, and that companies went through in the VM explosion we income encountered earlier in the decade. Then, policy governance to enforce configuration and security parameters, coming back to security being one of the top inhibitors to successful growth.

Let’s transition from the inputs that shaped the strategy to defining the strategy itself. What are some of the common elements found in companies successfully making the transformation to winning with the cloud? To optimize the full journey and minimize rework, you have to think holistically. Building an enterprise cloud strategy, not an application at a time strategy. So starting with the enterprise level view needs to be bought into all levels of the company. If everyone isn’t fully bought in and on the same page, a company is destined for serious challenges. A cloud strategy isn’t the responsibility of the IT department or the operations team, the C suite or any individual organization. Each organization from business units to IT to finance will play a role in defining implementing, executing, and measuring the transformation to a cloud optimized enterprise.


Some of the key elements to be included in your cloud strategy. How are you planning to win? There’s not a one size fits all cloud strategy, nor a one size fits all architecture that is unique to you as it is to your business strategy. There are certainly best practices and lessons learned and those you should take advantage of. These can be utilized to guide your execution. You want to align your business processes, your application requirements, and your implementation strategies. You are not undertaking this transformation because some outside entity told you to, you were doing it to drive the business to reach more customers improve satisfaction, or deliver new capabilities faster. So you want to look at the various elements of your business strategy and develop a cloud and cloud native application strategies support that business strategy.


Next is the risk management plans, inclusive of security, agility, availability. Risk and security’s concerns are cited as one of the top three concerns or inhibitors in adapting the cloud. Have a framework for defining and managing risk impacting trade offs throughout the process.


ROI and cost. Focus on cost is often touted as the holy grail. However, absolute costs should be secondary. In some cases, there may even be cost advantages. But in many cases, there are not. The real metric to be considered is business value and ROI. Is there a positive return to the business? Develop a business measurement strategy that reflects this true business value. Some of the shared responsibilities that need to go into this has focused in business aligned efforts, executing on the elements of this cloud strategy. Implement focused business aligned projects that have a finite scope, but in support of the long term strategy, aligned to specific measurable business objectives. Identify what is the business driver of each project, and execute in businesses undertaking projects to impact one or more of the three bottom line metrics of revenue, cost, or risk mitigation.


The final area to look at in building that business strategy is to ensure that you don’t get locked in. Gartner says open sources becoming the backbone for driving digital innovation. This is evident in almost every aspect of cloud growth from fast evolving containerized infrastructure to cloud native application development models. Open source dominates innovation across the board. As you are defining your implementation strategy, you want to maintain an openness in your solution to enable you to take advantage of community innovation, and not be locked in to one vendor proprietary implementation. Open source solutions today enable you to build your application in one environment, initially deploy it in another, and scale it as demands grow. In a multi hybrid cloud world, your application should not be locked into a silo, but be able to be moved as business needs demand, or call upon services from multiple clouds across public cloud to on prem into edge locations.


SUSE is well positioned on this last point to help you understand the platform technologies available supporting the spectrum of deployment scenarios, from edge to core data centers to cloud. Our cloud native orchestration portfolio can be integrated into a number of DevOps and CICD models for custom pipelines or to full pas ecosystem.


With that as a backdrop, I’d like to share with you some real world examples of companies that have partnered with SUSE on their cloud transformation journeys, the challenges they were facing, and the results that they’ve achieved. First, let’s look at Fitch Ratings. Fitch Ratings is a global provider of credit ratings, commentary, and research. Fitch Ratings decided to move from a capital intensive, traditional on prem based data center environment to a cloud first strategy. This strategy enables Fitch to improve agility for bringing up new instances while reducing hardware costs and capital expenses.


The strong partnership between SUSE and SAP was one of the main reasons Proterra advised Fitch Ratings to switch to SUSE Enterprise Linux for SAP applications. Engineering innovations such as being first to market with automated SAP HANA failover detection for high availability on AWS, support for enhanced networking adapters, and other performance enhancements on AWS. Before Fitch move to AWS and SAP, Hana and SUSE Enterprise Linux, their process change which move data from SAP ECC to BW, and its consolidation system took hours to complete. As a result, Fitch was able to only run about four loads per day.


Fitch’s new solutions have dramatically sped things up. Moving to Susa on HANA and AWS, these process chains now run in minutes. In theory, or as Ranjeet express this, businesses can request ad hoc loads at any time, and it won’t interfere with the business. This is quite a transformation for them as they move to a cloud model in their agility in being able to respond to business needs in real time.


Another is ApiOmat. ApiOmat’s mission is to provide enterprise companies with the agility to deliver new digital services faster by simplifying the deployment of front end apps for any device, being mobile web, voice assisted, chat bots, or even AR VR headsets. Key to ApiOmat’s offering is the flexibilities to support differentiated IT environments, and the capability to integrate easily with existing business applications, legacy systems, and cloud APIs.


To speed up time to value, ApiOmat decided to containerize its software, and selected SUSE cast platform to enable the quick and easy deployment of ApiOmat in any environment, from bare metal on premise to public cloud, to offer simple solutions that are easy to set up in differentiate environments. ApiOmat needed a more efficient way of rolling out his solutions to client data centers. Just for private cloud on premise deployments, as well as public cloud implementations. ApiOmat standardized its software to run in Linux containers. ApiOmat wanted to containerize management platforms based on Kubernetes, a powerful open source solution. However, because Kubernetes can be tricky to install, configure, and operate, ApiOmat looked for a solution that would minimize the time and effort required to set up operate and maintain a Kubernetes environment.


SUSE’s cast platform runs on a wide range of infrastructure and cloud platforms. A key benefit of SUSE cast platform over other container management solutions is its flexibility. ApiOmat’s customers can deploy their apps in any environment, be an on premise, bare metal, virtual machines, private cloud, or public cloud infrastructures. So this gave them great flexibility to meet customer demands where the customer wanted to be met versus forcing them into a specific environment.


With that, I want to thank you. I would welcome questions. Please put questions or comments in, and you’ll be able to follow up with us after the event or through individual meetings. I look forward to talking to you in the future. Thank you.

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