Executive Summary: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
CEO Satya Nadella has been credited with rescuing Microsoft from a nadir, partly due to the broadening of the company’s remit via a number of acquisitions.
The likes of Sweden’s Mojang (the developer of the wildly popular Minecraft), professional social network LinkedIn and version control site GitHub can all be understood as part of a wider pivot to services.
It’s a strategy that has paid off. In April 2019, Microsoft became a $1trn company, hot on the heels of Apple and Amazon and beating Google, the parent company of which joined the club last month. A large part of that growth has been in what the company calls its ‘Intelligent Cloud’ business area (up 27% in the last quarter), which incorporates the likes of Azure, and ‘Productivity and Business Processes’ (up 17%), of which LinkedIn is a part.
Born and raised in the city of Hyderabad in central India to a civil servant father, he received a degree in electrical engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology in 1988. Following that, he studied for an MSc in computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Professionally, Nadella briefly worked for the now defunct Sun Microsystems before joining Microsoft in 1992. Before becoming CEO, he was executive VP of cloud and enterprise, where he was in charge of Microsoft Azure and the company’s repositioning towards cloud services - now its most profitable business area.
Reflecting on the strength of Microsoft’s recent quarterly results, Nadella said: “Stepping back from the quarter and reflecting more broadly on the next decade, the defining secular trend will be the increasing rate of digitization of people, places and things. This malleable power of software will drive productivity growth across all industries, leading to more inclusive economic growth far beyond the domains of consumer tech today. Tech spend as a percentage of GDP is projected to double over the next decade.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
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.”