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Chief Digital Officer from Logicalis UK, Chris Gabriel discusses the partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the way Logicalis built a GTM to help customers in their digital transformation journey and has highlighted the key findings from a recent customer implementation.
Q1: To kick off this interview, can you please introduce Logicalis as a company?
Chris Gabriel: Logicalis is an international company based out of the U.K. We’re in 24 countries around the world, Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. A blended company. We’re a systems integrator, traditional systems integrator, managed service provider and also cloud solutions and services provider. I think we span the entire supply chain and also technology span of the marketplace today. Over the last years and certainly the last twelve months we’ve really seen a renewed emphasis on digitisation across sectors. This is not just in the way you’d expect, such as in retail or retail banking but also across a number of sectors, for example higher education and health which are all starting to become more digitally focused organisations.
Q2: Logicalis has been a technology reseller for many years, can you explain how Logicalis has been transforming itself to address the opportunities delivered by the digitisation?
Chris Gabriel: Logicalis, as you said, has been a technology reseller for many years and I would argue we still are a technology reseller, it’s just different technology. We did a few things to change our business about three, four years ago. The most critical thing we did was to start to focus on software and specifically on automation software. We realised that what was happening in the cloud in terms of heavy automation, self-service was just as important inside the customer’s organisation as it was to us as a service provider. We created, a single view of the world where we would offer cloud service whether they were on prem, hybrid, or public and then blend those together with a common skillset. We’ve invested heavily in software skills, heavily in automation skills and we’ve taken the work that we’ve done in our own cloud or in our customer’s clouds and we’ve blended that into a single offering. This is with a single skillset which is now very compelling to customers as the market is now moving the way that we’ve been hoping it would over the last two to three years.
Q3: As an HPE Cloud Builders certified partner, can you describe your relationship with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise?
Chris Gabriel: Our relationship with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is really coming into its own now. We have been a long standing HP technology partner selling storage and services and data center networks. Now our relationship with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise I think spans the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise go to market strategy which is to sell a different kind of technology moving from hardware to a more software value based proposition and that means moving up the stack in terms of software defined. If I look at Helion and I look at Synergy, our skill sets really match their portfolio regarding how we can add value to our customers. We’ve also made sure that when we’re building clouds, we're also taking those skills across our business. Our team of engineers and our skillset has also changed over the last few years to become that software automation based partner who can deliver on the latest technology while still selling storage and servers and networks. Our engagement with HPE is now in software, it’s in hardware and it’s in cloud. It really is that blended offering of what we think hopefully makes us stand out in the HPE partner community to the HPE customer base.
Q4: You just recently signed a large deal with a University. Can you explain their needs and especially how they are currently transforming their operating model?
Chris Gabriel: The win with this University, which I believe is the first Helion win in higher education in the U.K., shows the real power of the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise offering. They call themselves a university but if you really talk to them they’re becoming a digitally based business whether that’s educating young adults, whether that’s working with businesses in the community. They run a number of business parks as well. This is now turning into a digital organisation.
Q5: How is cloud bringing them even greater business value?
Chris Gabriel: One of the things that they’ve already focused on, is some people in their business had a view that the public cloud would solve all of their problems and they should just become a public cloud user. But they really looked long and hard about their business, the agility it needs, the scale it needs, the flexibility in new services. What we’re able to do with them is really come to the view that a private cloud built on HPE Helion would offer them the same agility, flexibility as the public cloud, but in a way that allowed them to make more business decisions based on their priorities not on what the public cloud was offering to them at the time. They’ve really taken the view of cloud, they’re embedding it into what they call a digital campus strategy in as much as they don’t think they bought a new data center solution. They think and they believe they’ve bought a digital platform that allows their organisation now to scale, flex, and deliver new services at the speed of their business needs, rather than at the speed the technology they chose historically would have delivered.
Q6: So they position digital transformation to be the basis of success for the University…
Chris Gabriel: Yes, I genuinely think they understand the value of the transformation around digital and how they can transform their education organisation. The way that they teach, the way that they develop innovation with third parties, the way that they support their ecosystem of organisations now through changing the way IT thinks about what IT does. When you speak to the head of IT he will refer to himself naturally as the head of a digital organisation, and IT is part of that. But they really have changed their mindset and therefore the conversations they can have with academics, with the finance side of their organisation is also changed as well. I think they’re one of the few organisations that have made the full mind shift to becoming digital and then everything follows from that strategy rather than trying to inch forward in terms of thinking about storage in a different way or compute in a different way. They really have flipped their thoughts. They see themselves as that digital innovation enabler now.
Q7: Did they consider such digital transformation as competitive in the education market?
Chris Gabriel: Yes, I think they see the digital campus strategy as a massive differentiator both in terms of their education business but also in terms of the other things. The research that they do, attracting commercial organisations to work with them is, I think, their presentation of themselves as this digital innovator. It will drive the outcomes in terms of their educational organisation. But it also provides them with a totally differentiated offer to the marketplace which as a university now you have to have. You’re no longer just a school for older children, you are now a business and they really see digital as being at the heart of that value proposition.
Q8: Can you elaborate on how Logicalis approach digital transformation customer needs and what is the contribution of the HPE Helion portfolio in your cloud service offering?
Chris Gabriel: Logicalis has built a go to market really around taking our customers on this digital transformation journey, if you will, and HPE is fundamentally at the heart of that. The Logicalis go to market is, IT speed to business and IT by wire which is the physical way that we do that is totally aligned to HPE. The reason for that is HPE Helion offer the full stack. We aren’t just focused on trying to sell different types of storage. We’re not focused on just trying to replace existing business with hyper converged. We’re actually taking our customers on a digital transformation journey which is the infrastructure which we’re working on HPE on converged infrastructure and hyper converged infrastructure all the way through to the service management stack. We’re training all of our sales people. We’re retraining all of our pre-sales people. We’re investing with HPE in terms of new skills across that stack. Our stack is a five layer stack and HPE are in every single one of those layers. And more importantly solutions like Helion and now Synergy are that stack and those layers in a single offering that’s predesigned and prebuilt by HPE which we can take to market. I don’t think we could get any more closely aligned if we tried. The value that we’re seeing is customers really get the value of it. We’re seeing great traction in the marketplace, both in terms of wins with HPE Helion but also in terms of transforming the minds of our customers to engage in that IT transformation down but also infrastructure transformation up.
Q9: Can you be more precise on Logicalis’ IT by Wire offering?
Chris Gabriel: The Logicalis go to market around IT by wire is a five layer stack to provide digital transformation to our customers. And those five layers from the physical infrastructure through to the way that IT runs IT in terms of service management is, we’ve managed to be able to align the HPE solution stack directly against our five layers. In fact, it’s the only part that’s aligned to all of those five layers. What’s really exciting is, with solutions like Helion and now Synergy, is it’s not just the individual layers that HPE bring us. They bring us the prepackaged, prebuilt solutions that we can take as one to a customer and transform their digital platforms much more quickly.
Q10: Can you elaborate more on the cloud integration capabilities delivered by HPE Helion?
Chris Gabriel: One of the key layers within the stack is cloud integration. Customers now expect to live in a hybrid world. I think all of the requirements we have from customers now are all hybrid. Nobody wants a standalone solution. So what we’ve been able to do with the HPE Helion stack is really understand the value of integrating both into other internal private clouds and also external public clouds. But also the fact that Helion supports both traditional hypervisors such as VMware but also OpenStack gives our customers choice in that direction as well. With HPE Helion we can run production workloads. We can run development workloads. We can run them on prem, off prem across multiple hypervisors. Really, what the customer critically wants, is choice and what we want to do with HPE Helion is deliver that choice in both the robust enterprise way but also in that fast agile development cycle that all of our customers also want to go through.
Q11: What about management and control that the HPE Helion offering is delivering as well?
Chris Gabriel: Well, in a way the management control is part of the most important piece. If you think about the way businesses want to have digital delivered, it is through controlled security governance. They expect this at the very front of their stack. They’re not thinking storage and servers. They’re thinking catalog, governance, security, control. So we are very much focused in terms of how we work with customers, that we start with what their business demands are, have they mapped their business processes, how do we deliver that agility but keep the control? If you can deliver choice and control, you really deliver the key things that the business now expects from IT because they get that and they expect that from the cloud.
Q12: Can you provide some insight about business results or outcomes from the university using this new digital platform or what kind of outcomes they are currently expecting to reach?
Chris Gabriel: The investment by the university and what’s very interesting for us is they discounted public cloud in terms of a single platform. They also discounted some of the hyper converged players because they wanted to build a new digital platform to deliver a number of business outcomes. It couldn’t just be technology simplification at the bottom end. It had to be full service delivery model. The CFO is expecting more delivery services at more predictable cost. They’re heavily using the HPE Helion analytics financial planning. The CFO's first outcome is I need to know how I can linearly grow my infrastructure and what price that’s going to be and predict that. The CFO gets a really big win, which is that he knows what it’s going to cost him over the next three to five years. What the University gets is better digital learning. It allows him to work with digital partners and deliver digital innovation. The university has a real appetite for growth and therefore the IT team don’t really know what’s coming next. Well, with HPE Helion, they don’t have to know what’s coming next because they know they can always support it. From cost of visibility, predictability and the key thing for the IT, is agility and response to the business’s needs. The fascinating thing is they think they get all of that with the HPE Helion stack.
Q13: Finally, what type of cloud integrated solutions were finally selected by the university?
Chris Gabriel: The solution selected by the university is the full HPE CloudSystem solution built on hyper converged infrastructure from HPE including CSA (Cloud Service Automation) and all the way through to the analytics package as well. It’s a full transformation. The reason the university announced we bought a new digital platform, not the subcomponents is they really wanted to transform from infrastructure all the way through to the way that they operate, run and analyse the value they get from that investment.
Q14: I have a final question: what makes Hewlett-Packard Enterprise a good partner for you?
Chris Gabriel: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has always been a good partner historically. What makes them a great partner going to the future is the new levels of investment in innovation, really the transformation. If I think of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise over the last two years in terms of an organisation, it’s always been the reliability, the flexibility but now innovation is making a huge impact. The ability for us to not only transform our business, transform our people skills and our engineers, but we're also able to get hold of the latest HPE technology to understand the roadmap and the vision. Then you get launches like Synergy which is totally market transformative for us. I think the traits that HP always had are in HPE but with that new found focus, that new found agility and innovation. This makes us really excited about the future of working together.