I am curious by nature. I like to know as much as possible about something before I talk about it with someone else, especially when recommending IT products to customers. My curiosity helps build my knowledge, especially about new technology.
Some IT specialists, on the other hand, prefer the status quo. Once they find a solution that works, they learn everything about it and stop looking at anything else, which can lead to stagnation. Sometimes, it pays to be conservative. Banking is one example: the industry’s customer-facing applications are built in modern environments, but back-end systems often run on legacy technology.
However, you can’t compete in the market by maintaining the status quo. Vendors and customers are constantly evolving, creating supply and demand for new IT approaches and solutions, and technologists must evolve our knowledge—especially when in the business of consulting.
Increased Complexity Required Increased Flexibility
B2B IT-Partner is a Swedish tech consultancy with 65 employees and $60 million in annual revenue. I’ve been with the company for eight years, but have worked in IT for the last 45, working for various companies and launching a couple of my own businesses. I was a HPE customer for eight years before joining the company as an IT solutions architect.
These days, there are many stakeholders involved in designing solutions to address IT challenges. We all have to work in a more collaborative manner, and my conversations with customers have become increasingly less technical. I’ve found my interactions with customers are more effective when I spend time listening and offering solutions rather than acting as a salesperson pushing products or special technical features.
B2B IT-Partner recently found ourselves at a crossroads. Our customers were building increasingly complex products, and traditional on-prem infrastructure and purchasing cycles no longer met their needs. Instead of starting from scratch every five to seven years and paying for everything upfront, our customers wanted more flexible, software-based infrastructure that could scale as they grew. They also sought to optimize their human resources spend, outsourcing tech support outside traditional office hours—or even entirely—instead of having internal teams on stand-by 24/7.
We Were Losing Customers to the Cloud
Many of our customers were moving to the cloud to try to meet their needs, which impacted our business. So, we started looking for a flexible, scalable, cost-effective platform that provided cutting-edge infrastructure to power next-generation products and services. I found it in the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform.
The HPE GreenLake platform is a flexible hybrid-cloud solution that combines scalable on-prem managed infrastructure with advanced cloud functionality. It scales up and down as needed, eliminating the burden of over-provisioning and underutilization. It’s a great option for customers who want a cloud-like experience on-premises without increasing technical debt or struggling with data gravity issues that prevent them from moving all their data into a public cloud.
Customers—especially some of our online gaming customers—moved their services to AWS and white-box servers because they saw it as more economical. But when I challenged one company based in Malta to compare the cost of their cloud environment to the HPE GreenLake platform, the numbers were staggering: one year with AWS using internally managed hardware was equivalent to nearly two years with the consumption-based HPE GreenLake platform. This allows us to offer the same functionality for almost half the price without locking them into a five-year purchase, and they could scale on demand.
The HPE GreenLake platform offers an excellent value proposition to customers who want the benefits of the cloud but are wary of its limitations. Aside from the cost benefits, the HPE GreenLake platform is fully GDPR-compliant because customer data remains on-prem. We are now offering the HPE GreenLake platform to all our customers in the online gaming space, and they get the best of both worlds.
A New Option for Containerization, ML Ops, and AI
Our HPE GreenLake solution includes HPE Ezmeral software, which extends the capabilities of HPE GreenLake and provides the foundation for driving analytics and AI/ML insights across distributed enterprises. Our customers can now confidently leverage their data for innovation with this complete data and analytics solution. The native data fabric makes it easy to access, analyze, and govern data globally, then leverage the most popular open-source data analytics tools that are curated and fully managed by HPE.
Developers and data science teams prefer tools such as Apache Spark, Airflow, Superset, Feast, and Kubeflow, which are open and extensible, allowing enterprises to bring their preferred tools. This SaaS-based solution also makes the costs of delivering AI and analytics more transparent and predictable. We see a lot of potential in the platform and look forward to maximizing platform features as they become available.
The combination of the HPE GreenLake platform and HPE Ezmeral software helped us create the perfect infrastructure solution for Inovia Group, a Swedish company specializing in Nordic language conversational AI and chatbots.
Inovia had migrated from AWS to Google Cloud to find the best platform for their SaaS offering. After a dialogue with a B2B IT-Partner, we designed a solution with a physical platform located in Sweden. The combination of the HPE GreenLake platform and HPE Ezmeral software allowed us to architect the perfect environment on which to build their conversational AI product. This included persistent storage for customer voice data to train their ML model while remaining GDPR-compliant. We started working with them on a solution in October 2022—shortly after we adopted HPE GreenLake—and ran high-availability tests in June 2023.
Like our online gaming customer in Malta, Inovia will benefit from tremendous savings, as one year of AWS costs on their aging servers equates to 2.5 years running the HPE GreenLake platform and HPE Ezmeral software. We will begin to measure quantifiable impacts once we finish deployment at the end of the summer when Inova will start putting applications on the platform.
We are the first HPE Ezmeral software partner in Sweden who is using the solution as a service offering, and this use case opens the doors to more business opportunities for us.
An Internal Migration to Launch Us into the Next Era
B2B IT-Partner is also migrating our internal infrastructure to the HPE GreenLake platform and HPE Ezmeral software. We operate a data center based on VMware, HPE ProLiant DL380 servers, and HPE Nimble Storage, and our customers run different applications on virtual machines. However, many are modernizing and containerizing their applications, so we are downsizing our VMware environment and migrating to HPE Ezmeral software.
We are happy to collaborate with HPE on managing our internal environment because we don’t have enough expertise in containerized services and ML. It’s not just an internal issue; Sweden has few subject-matter experts, and they’re in great demand. Hiring and training people with these high-level skills is expensive, costing more than HPE managing it 24/7. Allowing the HPE Managed Services team to manage the platform also benefits our existing employees, who get to avoid the menial tasks that no one wants to do, like patching software, upgrading operating systems, and swapping out drives.
Everyone can deliver a service that is fast and reliable. But you have to package it the right way with the base platform to deliver what your business needs and what your customer wants. IT has changed tremendously in 45 years, and B2B IT-Partner continues to innovate by listening to and collaborating with our customers and our partners.