B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 4 months ago

IT as a Business Transformation Engine in Distributed Cloud Innovation

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Digital transformation isn’t an overnight process. It’s a journey. Often, the pressure is put on IT to carry businesses through technical enlightenment. But IT and cloud computing services can’t fix the problems that companies face. 

However, they can provide the tools necessary to experience innovation.  

Shelby Skrhak speaks with John Encizo , principal tech consultant and field CTO at Lenovo , about:

  • The rise of distributed cloud
  • The importance of integrated IT
  • IT solutions as the instrument to change
  • Importance of partnering and outsourcing 

For more information, email jencizo@lenovo.com.   

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify,Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to B two B tech talk with Ingram Micro, the place to learn about new technology and technological advances before they become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by Ingram Micro's imagine next. It's not about the destination, it's about going someplace you never thought possible. Go to imagine next, DOT INGRAM MICRO DOT com to find out more. Let's get into it. Welcome to B two B tech talk with Ingram micro. I'm your host, Shelby Scart Hawk, and our guest today's John and Sizo, principal tech consultant and field CTO for Lenovo. John, welcome, Hey Shelly, good to be here. Thanks for having me. Absolutely so. Today we are talking about cloud two point, oh, and and the rise of distributed cloud and all that comes with it. But first, John, tell us a little bit about your role there at Lenovo. Yes, so, my role is is kind of interesting. So as a as a field CTO, you come up through the ranks. So I come through the ranks as an architect, but as a field CTO WE really focus on larger strategic transformation. So instead of just focusing on architecting a solution for a customer, we really like to dig in with the customer, help them understand their business, help them understand the technology that they're using to solve business problems and really try and find ways for them to to digitally innovate, to transform the way that they're thinking about technology from their business perspective and being a bridge from development to customer to marketing. So it's kind of a very holistic perspective on how I t operates, how business operates and how Lenovo, with our partners like Ingram, go to market with our customers. Yeah, well, you focus a lot on data center and you've seen the data center really stretch from on Prem to to all cloud, to hybrid or our distributed cloud. So how is Lenovo really responded to uh,...

...disord data that is so distributed? I mean other instances where Lenovo has has really innovated how business technology works? Great Question. So first defining distributed cloud. So that's actually a term from Gardner that I that I sold. I like to actually call it a distributed data fabric, but distributed cloud is essentially this notion that you know in the past, the concept of a data center. If you're old enough like I am to remember this, it was essentially you put all your servers in one spot and all your servers housed all your data, you did all your information processing in that one space. The reality is that's not the world we live in anymore. With the rise of public cloud and the rise of Hyprid cloud technologies, we've really seen that the world has changed. You can't really point to a single place where all of the data is generated, all the data is consumed and all the data becomes information. That happens across lots of different areas, and so when we think about distributed cloud and how that's changing business and how Lenovo and our partners are helping, a couple of things. First is with the rise of this distributed cloud and distributed data fabric and the need for automation is greater than it ever was, with so many different environments to manage and the move from virtual machines to containers and Kubernetes pods. Without the capability to automate, one can't standardize and one can't govern, and so Lenovo has put a lot of work into, for example, working with our think agile portfolio, which is our hyper converged and hybrid cloud solutions, to integrate automation from the ground up. We've also done a lot of work with one of our key partners, red hat, around doing a lot of answerable tooling. So we use a lot of answerable for a lot of our deployment mechanics and update mechanics, and then also looking at at open standards. That's another huge thing. I like to say that...

...if you're not creating automation and you're not deploying architectures to open standards, you open yourself up to at some point in time when that person leaves or retires or that documentation becomes out of date, you end up having a skills gap and a knowledge gap that can negatively impact your business, and so that's really where we put a lot of effort and we embrace these things like red fish for open systems management standards for our platforms. We do a lot of work with a spoil, we do a lot of work with terror form. We're very big on integrating upwards into all of the day to day systems management tooling that our customers want to use, because we, as that Lenovo, have a firm belief that it's better to use the tools you know and integrate into those than to create something from scratch. Right. I mean anybody can. You can walk out into your driveway get in a car, you can drive to a car dealership and buy a truck and you don't have to learn anything new. The mechanics are all of the same. Can Go from that truck to a four wheel drive and mechanics are all the same. Yeah, there's some slight differences, but at the core, because it's built around an open platform that everybody knows how to use, it makes it makes it actually easier from a day to day operational activities to actually get the job done. Well, in the knowledge gap that you talk about, that's a big problem because with this great resignation, with hybrid workforces and people being distributed across many different areas of the city, of the country, of the world, I would think that that's uh, that's a challenge. You would probably hear a lot about right, I do, and that's that's one of the Nice things about Lenovo because we have this end to end portfolio from from endpoint to basically everywhere. You know, I've got mobile I've got laptops, workstations, I've got systems in the data center doing hybrid cloud storage, bare metal. I hear a lot about the challenges from a a we'll call it end user experience perspective,...

...right, and if we think about the end user experience, whether that's an internal customer or an external customer, the challenges are are really all the same. First and foremost, everybody's concerned about security these days. Right, the old paradigm of I lock all my people on the campus, I lock all my data in a data center and they're protected by the fortress walls, those days are gone. That doesn't exist anymore. Right. The new security parameter is you with a laptop sitting in a starbucks. That's the new security parameter and that's what that's you know why we invest a lot of time into our secure supply chain and working with partners to create security solutions around our platforms. That's part of it. The other pieces you mentioned with hybrid workforce, which means now people can work from anywhere, and that's great, but that now also means that, going back to automation and standardization, that getting that talent to actually work together is really hard. Art. We've invested a lot of energy, even at Lenovo, to create a hybrid work environment where we've been doing hybrid work. All of us in the I t work for years. I've got a hybrid work salesforce that probably two thirds of them have never set foot in the Lenovo office because they're seeing out in a territory. And so how do you enable that? Well, it's the applications and the data. And if you think about applications and data, that's one thing that spans from a laptop to a data center, whether that data center is mine, is a Co love or a public cloud, and so we've seen a massive transformation in applications and data. How data is governed is becoming a huge problem. M I have just had a conversation with some folks doing healthcare and, you know, one of their big concerns is medical imaging. The volume of medical imaging data is continuing to explode. How do I store that? How do I continue to make that capable of being brought back in need of when I you know, radiologists needs to look at an imaging scan but not have...

...to pay for storage that's sitting there doing nothing for a lot of the time. And that's where we start getting into this moving moving to what we call this opex model where you let it focus on things higher up the stack, the actual applications and the actual data, not the day to day life cycle of platforms. Because you know, when I when I talk to customers around business value, there's no business value in patching a server. Zero. All the business value comes down what that server can actually do. And so when you when you think about to your question, how it is changing, how that hybrid workforce is changing, I team needs to take a different stance of rather than being the the Ministry of no where. You know we deal with the Blinky bits and it drives my engineering teams crazy when I call them the Blinky bits. But if you think about it that, you know the key bits are there only for one purpose and one purpose alone, that's the process and surface data so that it can become information it's valuable to the organization. And that is the biggest challenge that I see with I t is. Part of that is changing that mindset, moving past focusing on the features and the functions and focusing on great, give me a platform that I can build upon. That's one of the challenges. The other challenges is going back to that hybrid and distributed cloud. Is Great. Now I have a platform with now that platform is spread across multiple areas. So you know a lot of the engineering we work we've done with automation. Going back to that conversation we had just had to looking at our portfolio at the edge, for example, where we see that. I think was Gartner. I think it's some word north of of of all data captured and generated. It's gonna it's gonna happen at the edge. So if you think about that, you know, how do...

I manage that thing at the edge? How do I secure that thing at the edge? And that's where the investment we've done in our age portfolio to make it more easily manageable, to make it more easily scalable, working with our distributed cloud partners, vm, where new tanics, Microsoft and red hat come into play. So that's really where that that whole change of managing distributed cloud and that the I t workforce. Right. If you walk into any grocery store today, you know you look up in the ceiling, there's cameras. Those cameras are not only watching to make sure you're not stealing, but they're also they're doing things like tracking how you move through the aisles. There's their work. That folks are doing to look at how many people are in the store, are coming and going. When they come, what do they buy? What aisles do they go to? Do I want to push a notification to them from my loyalty APP Because They Have Bluetooth beacons? These are all these kinds of things. But all that technology is happening at the edge and it's creating this this new customer experience, but it's also creating this new massive data that people now have to manage. And I know I'm kind of wandering all over the place, but this is kind of the way I works. Right. A lot of times I t has traditionally been at the back of the room getting the orders, being told what to do and really for I and one of the things that happened with covid is I got a chance to take a seat at the bait boys table, right. I mean, if you think about it, we got pandemic hits. Everybody's got to go home, we need laptops, we need applications, we need virtual desktops and I t delivered and that's great. Downside of that is I t delivered and now that's become sort of the expectation. But I now earns a seat at the table. So I t now gets to be a transformation engine, and one of the things I like to to talk about with customers is that I t as a transformation engine. The thing that drives me the most nutty is when people say I aligns with business, and the reality is that I t...

...has to align with the business. That's a problem because that means that I t is being looked at as an outsider that's not part of the business. Yeah, and the reality is this. I T is embedded in the experience of everything that we do on a day to day basis. From an organizational perspective, you log in with your active directory credentials right which are governed by I t. You use a mobile device or a laptop, you access your email, which is managed by I t. You maybe, if you're in sales, you go into salesforce or dynamics, which is governed by I t. somebody else manages the data, but I t governs the access, governs the security. On a day to day basis, I t is so intimately wowing throughout the fabric of a business that if I t is truly thinking of themselves as part and parcel as a as a transformation engine for the business. There's this this concept of I t having to align goes way because at that point you actually know when your customers want because you were sitting next to them on a day to day basis. Right. Yeah, I mean you know you're saying that. You know the role of I t is is changing, that it had been like this term of you know, the mystery of no, basically, you know, locking things down, taking care of servers, you know, housing, housing the data, making sure everything is there. But in terms of advancing the business, it was covid then that you're saying that. You know it was really the equalizer, which is interesting because, you know, for for so many, you know, for at least for the smaller I t departments, they kind of felt a little bit of, you know, panic when covid hit and it was if they weren't prepared to go to a distributed workforce in you know, a minute, you know, a blank and IE. They're probably still catching up now. Yeah, I mean I think about a lot, a lot of big organizations. You know, they have digital transformation departments and and that's great. You know, they've been on this journey and I I'm going to call it a journey. Whether...

...people like to think that we're doing digital transformation. We've done a digital transformation. If you've done the digital transformation, you don't understand digital transformation. Yeah, it's done. The checkbox right, it's not a checkbox. It's not something you go oh, today, we weren't digitally transformed and now we are. Right, continuous journey. But a lot of the smaller organizations, you know, they were faced with, okay, I've got to do something. How do I do how do I figure out how to do more with what I have and more with less, even because of things like supply change shortages, and that's where, that's where the pandemic really forced the issue right. And necessity is the mother of of innovation and invention. And so you actually saw I t starting to go, okay, let's we gotta think, we gotta think different, we gotta do something different. We can't just do this patch servers. We've got to focus on something else. And so we saw this moved moved to hopex accelerate, this move to hybrid and public cloud accelerate. We saw this moved to okay, I t needs to actually become ingrained in the business and actually find out what does the business want? Because I only have so many people and so much time and so much money and I can't do everything. So I need to focus on what the business needs for value, and that was a critical forcing function to make I t start to think differently, at least for a lot of organizations, right, the legacy organizations that are still we patched servers? Yeah, they're there, but I've had this conversation with a couple of I t departments, a couple of customers. I'm like, look, guys, if you if you think all you're there to do is to to patch servers and to evaluate hardware, you're going to get Amazon because it's a lot cheaper in the short term and eventually in the long term to outsource those applications or to outsource that skill set to a public cloud provider. Right, right. Well, so, if I t is about delivering transformation tools, it's a transformation tools and enabling performance. How...

...does Lenovo fit into this then? I mean how does how does Lenovo work then as a tool for digital transformation? A great question. So I like to think of a ratchet set and I like to think of Lenovo as the ratchet and our partners, you guys, are are of the sockets right, you plug directly into the customers. We like to build standard platforms. You know, we do a lot of innovation. You know I have more number one benchmarks than any other o e m. that's great and it drives again, drives my engineering folks crazy when I say this, but nobody cares. What they care about is that those number one benchmarks mean, for example, that as a as an end user customer, if I spend a dollar on compute, particularly in today's economy, if I spend a dollar on Compute, I'm going to get a dollar's worth of value. And so we invest a lot of energy in creating that, creating platforms that are going to support digital transformation and working to expose those to our partners to do value on that ratchet. So I'm going to create lots of standards based platforms. I'm going to integrate with lots of different things, lots of different tools, so that as my my partners, my value ad resellers, my end users, can focus on the things that are actually going to deliver business value. Automation, and I love this quote and I don't remember where I read this from. You can't buy automation. You can buy a set of tools to build automation, but you can't buy automation. That's where US, adhering to open standards, US doing a lot of work with automation frameworks and tool kits enables a partner and an end user to them come in and say, okay, based on my business, how do I codify what's in Johnny's head into a script, an automation tool, so that when Johnny takes vacation I can still deploy servers and maths and I can still secure and patch. That's the kind of the...

...work that we've done and that's actually across our portfolio. If you look at the work we're doing, we're actually doing a lot of work to unify the management of our portfolio end to end, so that the same type of frameworks that you're going to use to manage a server you're going to use to manage a laptop and feed. So we're doing a lot of work around that. We're doing a lot of work with for example, we just had an co announcement, and this isn't unique to Lenovo, but we were kind of leading the charge with Amazon, which you would say, well, why are you partnering with a WS? Well, because aws is one of the largest cloud providers. Aws realizes that there's still workloads that just don't fit in the cloud and so they've got these elastic kuperneties and container services that can run at the edge or in your data Centerma. We've done a lot of work to help them with that. So we have an announcement that we've made. So we've now got platforms. So, Hey, you're done. You're doing kubernetes in aws, but you've got workloads on print. Maybe you want to do cheaper develop element or you've got containers that need to be run at the edge. Maybe five, six containers, not a problem. I've got platforms. So we work with cloud providers to do things like that. Same with integrating into windows admins center, integrating into V center, integrating into the new tanics frameworks, integrating into a lot of things like cloud forms. So you know, all of our customers can build what they need for their business to thrive again. It's all about where the where the ratchet. We're not the socket. I can't solve your business problem, but if I know what tech. What you need. I can build some enabling platforms to create the value. You know, we use another analogy, because I like analogies. Right. So if, if, if, my rat my servers, my systems, my storage are ratchets. What they do at the end of the day is they create value and they remove waste, which is again another thing I say. That drives my my engineering too. That the engineers right, but you know, I still plumbing. I deliver value and I remove pace and nobody ever...

...cares about the plumbing until it doesn't work. It's the things you don't think about. You take it for granted that you flush the toilet, you turn the tab and stuff just works. And that's kind of the work that we're doing with our platforms. We're putting a lot of investment into that. That's why we've got eight years running more uptime than any other Oh yeah, it's things people don't think about, but it's the if I can deliver that kind of value to a business, then the business can focus on what it needs, as opposed to having Johnny from I t being on the phone at two am because of server diet and it took out a critical piece of their infrastructure. Well, so, John, what's the importance? I mean you start to allude to this, but you know, what's the importance of a partner like like Ingram micro, you know, for sine tuning that big picture, I mean with so many possibilities, with that ratchet, it would be easy to lose focus. Right, it is, and that's that's exactly where I like that ratchet analogy. I'm building the platforms that create that help our partners. Ingram is one of our trusted partners. Right, we were really well with you folks. We we've create platforms that, if you think about what a ratchet does, it gives you leverage, that leverage to create transformation. But I'll be blunt, there are more closer relationships that my partners have with the end users than I do. If I can enable you, there's this there's this concept of force multiplication, which is essentially what a ratchet does. I give you the platforms to create change. You have the relationships to deliver that change, and so if I can give you the things, the tools that you need, you can then work directly with your customers. Hey, here's something we're seeing in your industry. Here's something we've done at other customers. You have those direct relationships, you're gonna own that relationship. I don't want to own that relationship. That's something that's extremely powerful from a Lenovo perspective...

...is we're partner first, I succeed when my partners succeed, and and Ingram as a trusted partner. I'm giving you guys the tools that you can use to then create transformation because, when it comes down to it, again drives my engineering people crazy, but inside of a server, inside of a laptop, at the end of the day, it's all the same stuff. There's nothing different, but the relationships you have the ability to identify an actual business or technology problem. That's gonna be unique to you. But I'm going to give you the tools. And again I'm the analogy guy. There's nothing different between my server and another o e m server from pieces parts, the blank e bits. But the analogy I give is, you know, I'm gonna use a food analogy. If my wife wants to get something to eat, I will go to the grocery store and chop up some stuff and apply some heat and she will get something to eat. If my life wants a meal, we're going to go out because the difference is going to be the cook it's going to be the prep, it's going to be the experience that I can't deliver at the house, and that's kind of the difference, right. I'm same vegetables, same sauces, same everything, right, but it's the the experience to deliver, and that is what that is what separates Ingram is that capability to deliver that experience. Right, you're using the same same heats and hands, same for same implements, whatever, but the relationship and the experience is what's going to differentiate and that's why, again, that's why we're partner first, because we realize that you guys are gonna be closer to your customers. As we start to wrap up our episode, we always ask our guests the same final question, and that's where do you see technology going in the next year? I know that's a broad question by design, but you know, I guess it's get your crystal ball out and tell us what you see within this space for the next year. So I'll do, uh,...

...three things I think you're going to see happening. I'll do one kind of high level, which is there's there's an enormous amount of transformation happening in the semiconductor industry and that is driving a lot of platform level change that o e m is, like ourselves, have to deal with. The chicks are becoming more complex, the amount of power they consumer continuing to go up and, conversely, the temperature that they need to be kept cool at is continuing to go down, and that's forcing, I think, a lot of folks, at least from a data center perspective, for those that still have have workloads on Prim to start to look at how am I gonna do this? What is this going to do to fundamentally change my base unit of Compute and my base unit of storage, and that's gonna shape and change the way data centers are are populated. We've been doing a lot of work with with water cooling, because we realize that there's only so much air you can push through a server to remove heat, and so I think we're going to see more and more folks start to look at water cooling in the data center. Other things that I can see happening. We're doing a lot of work with some open standards that are going to start to deliver what I'll call it disaggregated compute platforms. So PC I gen five is coming and that's going to improve capability for delivering memory disaggregated from the from the base system, right memory plugging in the front of the device. And it's all based on an open standard and that's kind of the difference. INTELS had obtained for a while, but it's been proprietary. This is going to be called something called C X L, which rides over the top of PC I gm five, and that's going to allow this disaggregation. And that's not just necessarily a data center thing. So imagine if I could take a data set on a set of drives and I could provide it to a data to a data scientist work system as if it were...

...local, so he could do whatever manipulations he wants. He could take that data, he or she could take that data, move those drives, not move the data, move the drives transparently and connect them to a server to run a data science model and then once that data science model was done, those drives could be moved to an array where they could then be off that data could then be offloaded. So instead of copying the data, moving the data multiple times, I'm literally picking the drives up virtually and attaching them to different systems to get the job done. That's the kind of thing that I see happening here in the very near future. I think the last thing is gonna see, we're going to see is this. I think it's gonna be a radical transformation in how people interact with data from the end user device. You know, right now we're still in the nascent stages of the metaverse and a R v R. I see that happening in the near future where those things are going to start to drive transformational change and how people collaborate, how data gets visualized and how systems are designed. You know, you, if you think about today, you have a keyboard and a mouse and a screen on your laptop and those are physical things. May Have an external mouse, but those are all clamshell together. Well, if we think about things like a are, and this is you know, if anybody is old enough to remember minority report everything, where Tom Hanks is standing in front of a board moving things well, waving his hands in the air. But imagine, and this already exists today. Right. This already exists, but it's it's a very niche product for corporate use, but imagine if you could put a set of glasses on are augmented reality glasses and use that as a virtual monitor that projects a virtual keyboard that you could then compute from anywhere. I mean, that's that's I see that happening. I see imagine for those who work with...

...data, imagine being able to take a data set and, rather than looking at a flat two D rendering, be able to manipulate it in three dimensions, like Tony Stark. Exactly the insights that you could get. I mean, that's that's a different way to interact with data. People, by nature are visual and tactile and we like to see, like the touch. There's a reason, right. I'm I'm one of those folks. It's like I'm not going to go buy a TV without going in and seeing at first. a laptop about typing on the keyboard, because that's my interaction with it. And I think as as this, a r VR metaverse collaboration, starts to weld together and move out through general business, we're going to see a massive change in how people interact with data, which, as an I t person, means my job is going to get different, more complex. That also means that as a security from a security perspective, it becomes even more challenging because there's there's a whole bunch of things and one more thing is have to kick in there. I know, before you give me the the hook off stage, you know the last thing is artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence. It's in business today. A lot of folks are using it, but it's it's not woven throughout the fabric of the business. I'm as we move from pure computer vision to natural language processing and machine learning and intelligence, they'll start to weave their way throughout the day to day operations at this end of our life. I mean we already have Alexa and Sirie and Google on our phones, but you know those are very limited. But I think as we start to see these weave their way even more through business, that you'll start to see, for example, intelligent agents communicating with intelligent agents to help find what we want without us having to actually ask for it, because it will build a corpus of interests around us, which again there's a whole bunch of privacy things...

...and security things around that. But I think ai is going to continue to grow. I think more and more data center function is going to be crawn over from traditional virtual machines and containers and compute too, using AI to manage, manipulate, deliver and describe data. Well. So, John, a lot of interesting discussion and a lot of interesting insight into, you know, the changing role of a VI t. So I appreciate all the time and and insight today. Thank you so much for joining me. Thanks Shelby's final for listeners who want to find out more about what we talked about today, they can reach out to ingram micro's Lenovo I S G solution specialist, and the email address for that is Lenovo Dot Servers at Ingram micro dot com. Well, that does it for this episode to B Two B tech talk with Ingram micro. Thank you, listeners, for tuning in and subscribing. If you like this episode and how I have a question, please join the discussion on twitter with the Hashtag B two B Tech Talk. Until next time, I shall be scare talk. You've been listening to B two B tech talk with Ingram micro. This episode was sponsored by Ingram Micro's imagine next. B Two B tech talk is a joint production with sweet fish media and Ingram micro. Ingram micro production handled by Laura Burton and Christine Fan. To not miss an episode, subscribe today on your favorite podcast platform.

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