Dimension Data: Digital Transformation Catalysts

Gerard Florian, Chief Strategy Officer, ITaaS As IT professionals took front-row seats at the 30th Interop conference, an amusing slide flashed on the screen, “Infrastructure Is Dead!” Before the participants could gather their thoughts, the next slide was displayed, “Long Live Infrastructure.” Perplexed by the paradox sketched by the two slides, the participants were informed later that the infrastructure of the past few decades may indeed be dead, but a new paradigm is taking its place.

What is clear is that IT organizations as well as the IT infrastructure itself are evolving, knitting a web of new challenges for CIOs. Gerard Florian, Chief Strategy Officer for Dimension Data’s ITaaS group sees it first-hand on a daily basis, “Most organizations we meet with are reassessing their business strategies based on an increasingly digital world. Which means not necessarily having a separate digital strategy, but developing a pragmatic, real-world business strategy based on a digital world that we’re all engaged with daily.”

In the new digital era CIOs are increasingly challenged with becoming more effective in balancing, transforming and modernizing IT, while developing real-world business strategies and continuing to manage their operations with improved productivity at a lower cost. Florian believes that from an Enterprise IT perspective, the transformation is to a hybrid IT model where there will be a combination of public and private cloud as well as traditional infrastructure. “A hybrid IT approach enables organizations to be more flexible, agile, and find ways to deliver new applications and solutions much quicker, and also be much more responsive.”

The key focus for Dimension Data, according to Florian, is to be the go-to, end-to-end managed services provider which supports its clients requiring a hybrid IT environment. The company empowers its clients with multiple service offerings and managed services choices spanning application services, networking, data centers, security, backup and disaster recovery, outsourcing and hosting, along with a full complement of consulting and professional services. “Offering managed services solutions that are private, public, hybrid or a combination, our vision is to be the global Managed Services Provider of choice for cloud-based enterprise applications and workloads,” claims Florian.

“Dimension Data has made strategic investments in its cloud capabilities, including cloud infrastructure, orchestration capabilities, and advanced managed services to address its clients’ changing service requirements for hybrid IT offerings that require on-demand consumption models,” comments Mike Sapien, Principal Analyst of Enterprise Services at Ovum, a leading global technology research and advisory firm. This investment allows Dimension Data to provide flexible service level agreements and help clients transition from legacy IT to more IT-as-a-Service alternatives.

Accelerating Business in the New Digital Era

Dimension Data sees three major trends disrupting the IT infrastructure marketplace: convergence around technologies, less ownership by its clients and more consumption of services, and CIO’s who are working more closely with fellow C-suite colleagues and LOBs (Lines of Business) on developing business strategies. “We believe these trends represent a fantastic opportunity for Dimension Data to help support and guide our clients with this shift in conversation from what the technology is, to what the business outcomes are that our clients want to achieve,” comments Florian.

With a series of cross-domain consulting assets, Dimension Data assists its clients with cloud infrastructure readiness and in making a shift to new IT operating and consumption models. By taking a more holistic approach, the company helps its clients determine the “best-fit” deployment model for their workloads and identifies interdependencies between critical data center domains to support cloud and hybrid environments. “To accelerate our clients’ data center transformation in support of their business goals and objectives, we offer Application Placement and Cloud Readiness Assessment, and the Data Center Development Model,” explains Florian. “The assessment considers the interdependencies across various data center domains including compute, server, storage, network, security, and cloud, and focuses on the improvements needed to meet the business objectives of an organization.”

Florian believes this results in a roadmap which details how to transform the organization into an ideal state with a report demonstrating the current and desired state of maturity within each technology domain. “We are well-positioned to accelerate our clients’ infrastructure transformation journey, whether they are seeking strategic advice, optimizing their data center operating model, or managing a hybrid IT environment,” says Florian.
Hybrid has changed the conversation, according to Florian, and with Dimension Data’s end-to-end capabilities for hybrid IT infrastructure, organizations can rationalize applications, ensure the elimination of long-term capital expenditure, and manage operations with monitoring and management across on-premise, cloud, and co-located environments.

Infrastructure Rationalization

Leveraging transformation consulting services, Dimension Data helps clients determine whether applications and workloads should be located on-premise or in the cloud. “We analyze the utilization of a client’s data center assets, current computing, storage, and network demands, and project future requirements and their potential impact on operations and virtualization,” explains Florian. The company helps clients evolve to software-defined data centers and utilize the scalability and agility principles of cloud computing to optimize the use of on-premise, co-located and cloud infrastructure

Every client is on a business transformation journey with regards to cloud, and depending on where they are, we provide guidance at the strategic, application or the infrastructure level

Acquired in 2010, Dimension Data has been a part of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), one of the world’s largest telecommunications services providers. This helps Dimension Data’s ITaaS group offer extensive data center co-location options worldwide which allow clients to benefit from the excellent hosting facilities of a global co-location services leader. Unlike other infrastructure providers which rely solely on expertise and labor arbitrage, Florian says that Dimension Data delivers added value to clients through their managed services automation and the flexibility to consume technology that best serves their current and future needs. “Along with the other operating companies falling under the NTT Group, we also partner with the world’s leading Independent Software Vendors and Application Service Providers (ASPs), including Deloitte, SAP, Microsoft, NTT Data, and EMC, collectively providing us with strong credentials and expertise in networking and security services and allowing us to offer comprehensive infrastructure solutions and rationalize infrastructure,” adds Florian.

A consultative approach is taken by Dimension Data toward delivering IT infrastructure solutions, according to Florian. “Every client is on a transformation journey with regards to cloud, and depending on where they are, we provide guidance at the strategic, application or the infrastructure level.” The group’s standardised methodology, based on Dimension Data IP-based tools and templates is consistently implemented by every consultant in the field, and offers sufficient flexibility to be customized together with other tools based on the client’s specific needs. “We bring years of experience in integrating infrastructure. We’re able to build what we design at a practical level, avoid pitfalls and focus on the outcomes that are required by the client’s business,” says Florian, who adds that the ITaaS group’s consultancy methodologies, assessments, and tools evolve continuously to remain relevant to the current trends and customer requirements.

Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director at THINKstrategies, Inc., is seeing evidence of Dimension Data’s customer-centric, services-led approach to hybrid IT. “I’m finding that organizations are increasingly turning to cloud providers like Dimension Data, because they are looking for more than just cost-savings and routine support. Instead, they are seeking a strategic source that can handle their specific requirements in the cloud and on-premise.”

Enhancing the Security Dimension

Though Dimension Data assists organizations in rationalizing infrastructure, and accelerating their digital business, the ICT vendors also have an eye on enhancing the security dimension of their clientele’s IT infrastructure. “Digital transformation is pushing security perimeters off the premises, into the cloud, and right out to the endpoint. As a result, enforcing cybersecurity policies across physical and virtual environments is becoming more complex,” adds Florian. Dimension Data’s cybersecurity solutions are designed to accelerate clients’ digital transformation. Their solutions cover everything from security strategy and real-time threat intelligence, to securing hybrid cloud and hybrid IT infrastructures and endpoints. “We take a multidisciplinary approach by applying technical and integration expertise across a variety of technology disciplines, including networking, communications, hybrid cloud, data center and the end-user,” explains Florian. All of these solutions are provided through the consumption model that is most appropriate for their clients’ business: on-premise, hosted, virtualized, cloud-based, managed, outsourced, or through a combination of different models.
Provision of Cloud

Dimension Data is continuing to build out its public cloud capabilities by putting their public cloud environments where their clients are, and offering a more flexible, customizable public cloud to better meet their clients’ needs. Dimension Data assisted Fujifilm to create a cloud-based picture platform for the digital age. Called “Imagine”, Fuji customers are able to store, print, and share their photos from anywhere. “Our public cloud enables automated provisioning of virtual servers running Windows or Linux Operating Systems (OS) in less than five minutes. Our public cloud service includes customizable virtual servers, secure cloud networking and up to 10 TB of block-based storage per server,” says Florian. The company’s cloud-based workspace offering, Enterprise Mobility Development Model, is a policy-driven solution that ensures flexible integration, rapid implementation, and fast adoption of mobility across the entire organization. The service enables clients to monitor and manage all of their mobile endpoints and applications, simplify mobility deployments, and gain visibility and control of their entire mobile fleet.

In addition to its public cloud offering, Dimension Data continues to invest in Private Cloud environments. Built for performance and reliability, the company’s private cloud offering, known as Private Cloud Enterprise Edition, delivers fully segregated, dedicated compute, storage and network resources to each client as a service. With its Private Cloud services, Dimension Data continues to develop and invest in performance and service options to go where the market is heading, or, in the case of saving endangered species from poachers, where their cloud-based services are desperately needed. “With our Connected Conservation program, we’re currently helping a private game reserve in South Africa to protect rhinos from poachers through a cloud solution that will be replicated globally to safeguard other endangered species. We have linked a variety of sensing technologies and data sources via a secure park area network, supported by the cloud to provide data analytics and reporting that tracks the movement of people rather than rhino. The cloud enables the client to respond quickly in real time to protect the rhinos,” explains Florian.

In addition to its recent work with the Connected Conservation program, Dimension Data partnered again this year with ASO (Amory Sports Organization), the group behind the Tour de France. This application is a great example of not only what can be achieved with cloud from a technology perspective, but also what can be done from a speed and time to market and the ability to iteratively improve on the fly, according to Florian. “This was a data centre that literally moved from location to location every day and provided a significant amount of analytic information to a number of customers,” adds Florian. In this case the customers were the millions of viewers, and the entire application was running on Dimension Data’s managed cloud platform, and also incorporated a number of traditional elements from a security, wireless mobility solution.

What’s Next?

Florian says that Dimension Data continues to expand its capabilities around storage, disaster recovery and security. “Integration of a managed hosting environment and physical servers with cloud is critical for many applications. For example, a SAP HANA-based solution will have very different infrastructure needs depending on the size of the database,” continues Florian, “but by being able to support physical and cloud servers within the one landscape, we can offer clients the flexibility they require.”

"A hybrid IT approach enables organizations to be more flexible, agile and find ways to deliver new applications and solutions in a very quick manner, and also be very responsive"

The company also continues to work on the Microsoft side of the business, with the full integration of its latest acquisition, Ceryx, a Microsoft Gold Certified partner organization, providing managed services that cover the migration that Dimension Data’s clients are going through. The company is also looking to do more with what they call “validated workloads,” where they incorporate virtual appliances, firewalls, and load balancers into their cloud. “We’re building out more capabilities with Microsoft and Cisco applications, and expanding our digital practice with ERP, mobile and analytics applications,” adds Florian.

Leaders in uncovering innovative ways to solve business challenges and deliver better business outcomes, Dimension Data and Florian look forward to continuing their work with CIOs and their IT organizations and help them be more relevant to the rest of their business. “No matter where a client is on their unique journey, the moment they engage Dimension Data, we become their trusted guide,” concludes Florian.

Dimension Data

Johannesburg, South Africa

Gerard Florian, Chief Strategy Officer, ITaaS

Dimension Data accelerates its clients’ ambitions through digital infrastructure, hybrid cloud, workspaces for tomorrow, and cybersecurity

Dimension Data