One of the companies in today’s technology sector that has an enormous amount of technology to help organisations with their innovation projects is VMware. Combined with the technology from parent company Dell Technologies, the IT vendor calls itself a kind of superhero. This hero has four superpowers that can be used to help customers innovate.
Recently, we spoke extensively with VMware’s Richard Bennett. He is a leader in digital transformation, strategic deployment of enterprise technology and providing the best customer experience. He said it’s really not that difficult to get companies to innovate and that the road to the cloud is sometimes described as far too complex. “Companies have come to see the cloud as a place, but the cloud is not a place. It’s a way of working,” says Bennett.
The cloud is not a place, but a way of working
The fact that companies have come to see the cloud as a place where they think everything has to happen, is because there is a lack of vision, strategy and knowledge of how to innovate. The answer is then sought in trends. The cloud is a clear trend that has allowed some companies to grow exponentially. The reaction of a lot of companies is that they have to take everything to the cloud. This results in a lot of challenges, but no solutions yet. Bennett: “It shouldn’t matter where applications are running, or what customers want to run in the cloud. The question has to be: is everything manageable?”
We often still think too much about specific products, technologies or trends. This sometimes leads companies to embrace new technology and make processes more efficient, but that’s a cumbersome and long road to innovation. Bennett says that if companies really want to innovate, they need to look at how people work in an organisation first, and then at the technology after that. This is also Bennett’s own way of working. He lets companies tell him how people work in an organisation, what problems they may have with that, and then he and his team come up with innovative ideas on how to do things better, by using technology or combining technologies.
The technologies Bennett uses for this often come from VMware. VMware itself often describes them as “superpowers” (superpowers), because the company masters these technologies and markets them via various products. In addition, they also respond to many of the major megatrends that are much talked about. The four superpowers are cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), and edge computing.
Bennett tells a lot of anecdotes and examples of companies that he has helped with their innovation trajectory by simply talking to them and then coming up with ideas with his team on how things can be improved through technology. Some companies really come up with problems or cumbersome procedures, while others don’t know how to innovate. One of the most important things Bennett often looks at is the user experience: how well a person can do his job, how cumbersome are procedures, and what time does it take. In this way, innovative solutions can often be reached.
Chasing the medical professional with apps and data
Recently, Bennett worked on a project with hospitals in Denmark. In a medical environment like a hospital, you want most of the time to be spent helping or caring for people, not doing administrative work or walking up and down to consult medical records. In a hospital, the data and applications have to be continuously present at the place where the doctor or nurse is. In Denmark, they now work with mobile devices that use VMware Workspace. This allows medical staff to consult a patient’s data directly from anywhere. A doctor doesn’t have to go back to his/her workstation to view an image; this can be done directly on the mobile device. This saves a lot of time, allowing the doctor to focus more on treating people.
The digital patient record is processed in the VMware Workspace technology so that all data is immediately available. Data can also be analysed using AI and machine learning. Like that, an analysis can be carried out at the local level. This can be used, for example, to establish that there is a flu epidemic.
Getting oil pumps to “phone home” is expensive
Another concrete example of innovation given by Bennett is that of an oil company. This company has hundreds of oil pumps with IoT sensors. However, these sensors have to be read, and the data has to be stored and analysed centrally. At first, this process was completely cloud-based, but the company had to pay a lot of money to read the sensors every 30 minutes. In the cloud, it is difficult to set up an environment every 30 minutes, then read out all the pumps and then shut them down again. Now, the company uses a hybrid cloud environment, in which a number of virtual machines is quickly started up in a data center, in order to read and collect all the data from the pumps. The data is then sent to the cloud, where it is analysed centrally. However, costs are much lower because reading the pump sensors has become much cheaper.
Are wind turbines up and running?
Another customer had a similar problem, which focuses specifically on wind turbines. If the wind direction changes, the intention is for the wind turbine to rotate so that it is optimally positioned in the wind and can generate the most energy. The customer tried to arrange this in the cloud, but this took too much time. First of all, data was collected about the rotation of the wind, in order to send it to the cloud and analyse it. When the analysis was finished, and the signal could be sent, the wind would have changed again. As a result, the wind turbines rarely works optimally. VMware helped the company to move the analysis to the wind turbine itself using edge computing. The wind turbine can now analyse directly on location, and know how it can capture the most wind and generate the most energy. The management of all these edge computer servers is done centrally via VMware Pulse IoT Center.
Giving the police less information
Ultimately, the user experience is often decisive in determining whether something works or not. Companies can use the best technology and combine the best solutions, allowing them to collect an enormous amount of valuable data. If this ultimately leads to poor user experience or an overload of data, then, according to Bennett, the desired result will not be achieved.
He found a good example of this with the police. This was an emergency situation in the category of a terrorist threat, where fortunately action was taken in good time before things really went wrong. In the case of the police, images came in from public security cameras, police officers’ bodycams, hundreds of phone calls via the emergency number and there was heavy communication via police intercoms and computer systems. In the end, there was an enormous amount of data. As a result, the speed of response slowed down, because officers had to find their way through all this data.
The solution was to remove all this data from the officers on the street. Cops can no longer consult a large part of all this data. Instead, clear information is created from the data, so that agents know where they stand. By applying analytics, data is also converted into information. Agents now receive clear information and know what’s what. From now on, for example, they know how quickly they have to get to somewhere, what is going on and what the risk is.
VMware has helped with this by creating an environment via Workspace in which rapid reactions can be made. All data comes together in this way and data can also be analysed via analytics.
VMware is much more than just virtualisation
For years, companies saw VMware as a virtualisation company. In principle, a lot of their technology is based on that. But by now, it has become so much more, and the public perception has to change, says Bennett. He thinks that he and his team are making a significant contribution, because there is a much greater focus on the problems or challenges that companies face in order to come up with solutions for them. This can often be done on the basis of VMware technology and with the help of Dell Technologies or its subsidiaries. Think of Dell Boomi or Pivotal. Sometimes, partners from the industry offer a solution to this problem.
VMware tries to think much more in terms of these superpowers and tries to come up with solutions. By thinking about many of these use cases, Bennett also thinks companies can be helped more quickly. They will also see the possibilities for themselves. VMware is now also working hard to train people internally and to persuade them to serve customers in this way, rather than to train them into a role involving product sales or getting to the conclusion of a license agreement. The long term, a good relationship, and offering the best solution must really come first. “With half a million customers, most companies know VMware. It’s now about making a difference in companies, having an impact, by making the right choices and by recommending the right innovative solutions to help them grow and use technology more effectively within their organization”, Bennett said.