Oct 15, 2020

Enabling remote work: how IT can plan for 2021 and beyond

William Smith
2 min
Kevin Magee of Microsoft Canada and Zscaler’s Lisa Lorenzin, discuss the benefits of a zero trust approach for enabling remote working
Kevin Magee of Microsoft Canada and Zscaler’s Lisa Lorenzin, discuss the benefits of a zero trust approach for enabling remote working...

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced a mass uptake in remote working, and it has fallen upon the shoulders of IT professionals to ensure that transition occurs smoothly.

“The initial response to COVID was: ‘we're going to move everything temporarily to the cloud and we're going to get through this, and then we're just going to revert back to how things normally were,’” says Kevin Magee, Chief Security and Compliance Officer at Microsoft Canada. “And this crisis has really made businesses come to the realisation that they have to change what they're doing if they're going to secure their organisations for the future.”

While traditional conceptions of hard perimeter firewalls have their place, an evolution is now required in the new world of work. “If you were starting from scratch today, there's no way that you would do a hard perimeter like that because cloud and mobility have made that hard perimeter, no longer sufficiently agile or sufficiently scalable,” says Lisa Lorenzin, Director, Transformation Strategy at Zscaler. However, Lorenzin explains that you’re not starting from scratch in most cases, so having collaborative partners like Microsoft and Zscaler working together can add value to a company. “Helping organisations transition through a transformation journey is where the guidance of Microsoft and Zscaler working together with a strong connectivity partner like Bell Canada can really make a difference,” adds Lorenzin.

A zero trust approach sidesteps many of the challenges now being presented, as Lorenzin explains. “It's about having a world of context-based trust where the user may be on-premise or-off premise. The application may be in the data center or in the cloud, but the principle of zero trust still applies, which is: I don't implicitly trust anyone to do anything.“

“Zscaler can offer network access that still provides the visibility and security that IT and Security needs to run and secure the business, but vastly increases the user experience. Employees that are happy to use applications are better able to serve their customers,” says Magee. With such a transition taking place, Magee sees benefits across the IT professional landscape. “There's been a positive shift in morale because we are finally delivering on the promise of zero trust, conditional access and a safe user experience that does not compromise security.”

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

GfK
VMware
3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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