Giants in the Cloud: How Enterprise Uses Cloud Computing

The editors at CIO Magazine, Computerworld and Network World recently did something I’ve not seen done before in the IT industry press: the three publications collaborated to create and co-publish a comprehensive series of articles on how some of America’s largest companies are implementing cloud computing in their businesses today.

Fittingly enough, they called this package of articles “Giants in the Cloud.” We at Avnet were honored to have been included among the 17 companies interviewed for the series.

I took the liberty of collecting excerpts from the articles where we were able to share some of our insights below, but don’t just take our word for it. I recommend the full series to any company looking for guidance on how (and how not) to implement the cloud today.

From “How Giant Companies See the Cloud
16 large enterprises talk about their use of the cloud, their plans, challenges they’ve run into and how they’re approaching the skills issues

Avnet, a $27 billion distributor of electronic components, runs a hybrid cloud environment. The company has been building a private cloud internally since the early 2000s, while its public cloud usage, which is primarily limited to SaaS, began in 2008. Its biggest rollout, a pilot of Microsoft Office 365, is just getting underway.

Avnet is open to wider use of public cloud services…and IT has identified three scenarios where it makes sense for the company: to provide functionality that’s not a core competency for IT and wouldn’t sacrifice competitive advantage; when there’s a need to implement quickly and a cloud offering can reduce risk and capital expense; and when a short lifespan is expected.

From “13 Tips to Achieve Cloud Success
Seventeen CIOs and IT leaders shared lesson learned on cloud deployment, use, skills and more.

Have an exit plan. “Make sure you get a prenup in place”…The relationship might be great when you sign the contract, but make sure the contract addresses separation in the future…

Avoid customization. “Before you sign that dotted line, you really need to understand that software and how it will work in your environment”….

From “CIOs Face Cloud Computing Challenges, Pitfalls
What’s the hardest part about migrating to the cloud? Giants talk security, vendor lock-in, shadow IT and other common challenges

Shadow IT is less challenging than it was a few years ago, when cloud vendors would pitch that customers could be up and running without involving IT…. Today Avnet’s IT group is more in step with the business. When business units want new tech, they will talk to IT first…

Avnet has found ways to relinquish some control without sacrificing security. If a cloud solution is easy to use and configure, Avnet will turn that over to a business group. Workday, for instance, is a clearly controlled environment, but HR primarily manages it…“We don’t need to be in the middle of that, if the tool is intuitive enough and secure enough.”

Still, rogue cloud purchases remain a concern. “Shadow IT these days is only a credit card swipe away”…

From “CIOs Share Must-Have Cloud Skills
Cloud computing prompts IT organizations to rethink how they acquire talent and develop skills.

Avnet’s approach has been to train current employees on new cloud technologies…leverag[ing] those employees’ institutional knowledge.

To help staff transition to cloud-friendly skills, Avnet holds technology days, followed by job shadowing, so IT workers can spend a day or two learning about a specific technology.

Congratulations to the editorial teams at these three publications for developing such an ambitious and comprehensive look at the state of cloud computing in large organizations today.

- Steve

Share or print this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Print
  • email
  • Reddit
Posted on Leave a comment

IT Best Practices: Enterprise Data Deduplication & Backup

Brad Kenney | Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure | Avnet, Inc.

Organizations of all sizes are coping with exponential increases in their data storage and backup needs. So I’ve asked Brad Kenney, Avnet’s vice president of Enterprise Infrastructure and a member of my Impact Team, to spotlight one of Avnet’s recent award-winning successes in this area.

Steve has talked about Avnet’s effort to scale our data storage capabilities to handle a petabyte or more of data, but storage is only one part of the equation. Our backup and disaster recovery capabilities also needed to keep pace as Avnet’s data needs have grown from 250 terabytes in 2010 to more than 1.5 petabytes in 2014.

DEDUPLICATION OF THE DATA CENTER

Avnet initially implemented EMC’s Data Domain solution in 2012 to handle the de-duplication of files located on the thousands of Avnet PCs deployed globally. But in order to reap the full benefits across the enterprise, we had to extend that de-duplication and compression capability to include our data center’s storage area network and more than 1,700 servers.

RESULTS & BOTTLENECKS

Implementing Data Domain in the data center ultimately reduced the amount of information Avnet needs to maintain and secure by 92%—a massive improvement. But de-duplication and compression consumes a great deal of processing power, and as the volume of data grew, this placed a significant burden on the data center’s infrastructure that handles more than one million batch jobs each month.

BOOSTING AVNET’S ORACLE INFRASTRUCTURE

To address this critical constraint, Avnet sought out the aid of EMC’s Data Domain Boost. Boost is a software solution designed to work in concert with Data Domain to help reduce bandwidth constraints due to de-duping and compression activity.

Boost limits the de-dupe and compression activity to just the target server affected, removing a great deal of related traffic from the company backbone. At the time, however, Data Domain Boost hadn’t been deployed on an Oracle/AIX infrastructure like Avnet’s before.

So we worked closely with EMC in the initial testing to deploy Data Domain Boost on an Oracle platform, with the goal of integrating it into our backup environment once it was available. As a result, Avnet was one of the first companies to use Data Domain Boost in an Oracle environment.

While this testing was taking place, Avnet also upgraded the backbone to a 10 gigabyte network and Fibre Channel infrastructure, greatly increasing the available throughput.

SPEED & AGILITY

The combination of greater throughput and lower bandwidth needs reduced our backup times by 10X, increasing speeds from 100MB/s to 8 GB/s in some instances.

The increased bandwidth and decreased data footprint also give Avnet the ability to restore any of our databases in six hours or less, significantly improving our business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities.

Congratulations to everyone at Avnet who was involved in this two-year overhaul of our data backup, deduplication, storage and disaster recovery platforms. Because of their award-winning efforts, Avnet is poised to handle the exponential growth in data that we’ve experienced for many years to come.

- Brad

Share or print this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Print
  • email
  • Reddit
Posted on Leave a comment

VIDEO: Enterprise Security Trends with Insight Enterprises

[http://avnet.me/08527]

Is the anti-virus strategy “dead” for enterprises, as Norton said recently? if so, then what role does breach detection play in the enterprise security portfolio? What are today’s top security concerns for the enterprise IT customers at Insight Enterprises, a $5.1 billion Avnet partner and global provider of  IT hardware, software and service solutions to business and public sector organizations?

Mike Guggemos, Insight’s CIO, spoke on these topics at Avnet’s recent IT Security Summit, so I wanted to capture some of his remarks as part of our Tech Trends series as well.

CLICK HERE or on the image above to access this brief 2:30 video.

I’d like to thank Michael for taking an afternoon to speak and participate in this year’s Summit and the video shoot above.

- Steve

Share or print this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Print
  • email
  • Reddit
Posted on Leave a comment

Secrets of Selling to the CIO—from the CIO’s Perspective

There is no shortage of content out there telling you how to sell effectively to CIOs and IT executives. However, most of it has been created by salespeople.

With that in mind, let me share the CIO’s perspective on successful selling.

To keep it simple, here are five DOs and four DON’Ts to follow if you really want to get—and keep—my attention.

  • DO #1) Do show how you can help me do more with less.

Delivering greater system reliability for less cost is an evergreen goal. Show me how your product or service helps Avnet do that, and I’ll be interested.

  • DO #2) Do talk to me about using IT to solve business problems.

Avnet’s in a competitive, mature industry. I need to use IT to help make Avnet easy to do business with, deliver a superior customer experience, demonstrate our value, and lay the groundwork for profitable growth.

  • DO #3) Do show how you can unlock the potential of our data analytics investment.

Big data is a significant strategic initiative at Avnet, and we’re looking to make the most of our SAP HANA-based infrastructure investment to drive breakthrough decision-making and analysis capability.

  • DO #4) Do tell me about keeping Avnet more secure.

There’s little that keeps me up at night more than maintaining the integrity of Avnet’s systems and data.

This aspect of IT is evolving rapidly, and the stakes get higher with every highly-public data breach. If you can improve our security infrastructure and protocols, I’m listening.

  • DO #5) Do tell me how I can balance the Consumerization of IT with the need for centralized governance, administration and oversight.

BYOD and cloud-based applications are just the start of this transformation in the workplace, and it’s my duty as CIO to give employees the tools they need (and want) while still ensuring that every device and scrap of Avnet data is accounted for, backed up and secured.

Along with those five things to do, here are four activities you should actively avoid if you want my attention.

  • DON’T #1) Don’t contact me through generic bulk emails.

Email is a good way of making the initial contact, but if you want to get past that point, do some research on what matters to Avnet, frame your offering around helping us meet our business goals, and share some supporting content.

White papers, studies and surveys are likely to get my interest, especially if they come from third-parties.

  • DON’T #2) Don’t overstate the financial benefits of your offering.

That only gets both of us in trouble. If you’re going to talk about return on investment, make sure your information is credible and easy to reference.

If it’s not a strategic initiative, I need to see 100% ROI in 12 months or less, ideally far less.

  • DON’T #3) Don’t try to sell me cool technology.

As a CIO, I am a technologist, but that doesn’t hold my attention at all. To maintain it, you need to sell to my inner CFO.

I’m only interested in being a trendsetter if your product delivers bottom line benefit and doesn’t expose Avnet to potential breaches. To maximize your chances for success, talk to me about benefits, results and business impact.

  • DON’T #4) Don’t offer me free trials to get me to test-drive your company’s products and services.

Free trials may be good for consumer sales, but they don’t work for me in the enterprise. I’m looking for solutions-oriented long term partnerships. If your company delivers value to me, I’m happy to pay for it.

The CIO role has evolved greatly over the last decade, and the approaches that worked then likely won’t work today.

If you keep this list of dos and don’ts in mind as you plan your next round of sales and marketing pitches, you’ll be much more likely to get my attention and keep it.

- Steve

Share or print this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Print
  • email
  • Reddit
Posted on Leave a comment

Five Lessons Learned So Far From Avnet’s Big Data Implementation

Earlier this year, I outlined eight critical elements for big data success as our own big data journey gained speed. Now that we’re a couple of quarters further along, I wanted to share a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

1) IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SPEED

There’s no question that the migration to SAP’s HANA platform based on in-memory computing has delivered some incredible jumps in performance for Avnet so far.

With HANA in place, we’re seeing query response times that are 5-6 times faster than our previous business intelligence platform could deliver, and some complex queries are coming back 15 to 20 times faster than before.

While this kind of improvement validates the platform investment, by itself it only represents a minute portion of the potential benefits a big data platform like HANA can bring.

Speed creates an environment for capacity and scalability; now we have to work closely with the businesses to convert that potential into measurable value for our employees, customers, suppliers.

2) THE “FOUR Vs” ARE GAME CHANGERS

At Avnet we talk about the “four Vs” of big data: Velocity, Volume, Variety and Veracity. Speed is certainly one area of improvement, but it’s also about the quantity and disparate sources of data that are now able to be processed using SAP HANA.

From Avnet’s perspective the veracity—or accuracy—of the data and results are essential as we look to standardize metrics and seek out “one version of the truth” across all of our businesses worldwide.

The combined improvements we’ve seen in all four dimensions to date require an entirely new paradigm of thinking to ensure we take these capabilities to their fullest potential.

3) MANAGING EXPECTATIONS IS ESSENTIAL

Big data, like cloud computing, has such high visibility and universal application that it’s easy for any business or function leader to see the benefits of applying the technology to his or her own area of influence.

But big data is a longer-term, enterprise-wide journey, and laying the groundwork for future success goes far beyond the IT aspects as I’ve discussed before.

There’s a real excitement around big data at Avnet, so properly setting and managing expectations with business colleagues has been much more important with this initiative than many other IT rollouts.

Rusty Murdaugh, Avnet’s vice president of Financial Planning & Analysis, recently alluded to this fact in his guest post.

4) IMPLEMENT A GOOD CHANGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

To help ensure that expectations and excitement are grounded in the reality of your big data rollout, be sure to devote strategic and tactical resources to execute a sound change management campaign as well.

We’ve had a great deal of success at Avnet standardizing on the ADKAR® change management model from Prosci. ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Every employee has to go through each phase in sequence to truly maximize the intended results of the change.

From the perspective of Avnet’s big data journey, we’re focused on supporting our employees as they move through the all five stages of ADKAR, laying a proper foundation for our future training initiatives.

5) MOBILITY IS MANDATORY

Having the ability to request and view reports anywhere, anytime has been one of the most requested features of our big data rollout. Avnet’s leaders spend most of their time on the move, either between meetings or traveling. Looking at a full-size monitor is a rarity, and traveling with paper printouts are a nuisance to many.

So when it comes to designing our end reporting capabilities, we’ve been heavily focused on ensuring that our business leaders are able to request and view analytics reports on demand through their tablets or smartphones.

After all, the data is only of value if it’s delivered in a timely basis in a way that the audience can easily understand.

I’ll be sure to check back in with a new list of observations and lessons learned as we get a bit further along in Avnet’s big data journey.

We’re building a strong foundation for future performance at Avnet through hour big data initiative, and there’s a tangible excitement in the businesses and IT team as we roll this capability out across the globe.
- Steve

Share or print this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Print
  • email
  • Reddit
Posted on Leave a comment