GfK Harnesses the Power of Multi-Cloud for Data Science Innovation

This month, we held our quarterly VMware Multi-Cloud Briefing, an online event dedicated to enabling organizations to accelerate multi-cloud strategies in a rapidly changing world. Our focus for this quarter’s event was on managing and optimizing a multi-cloud environment, where we discussed the latest industry trends and best practices.

We also had the opportunity to hear from VMware customers on how they’re operationalizing a multi-cloud strategy across financial management, operations, and security and compliance. In particular, we sat down with Ismar Efendic, IT Infrastructure Manager at GfK.

If you haven’t had a chance to hear the discussion, you can check out the complete replay on YouTube here, as well as an overview of the event and recording on the VMware Cloud blog here.

In this article, we provide an overview of the conversation, including Ismar’s tips for cloud management, lessons learned, and how they’re leveraging VMware solutions to manage, govern, and optimize their multi-cloud environment.

GfK’s cloud journey

If you’re not familiar, GfK is a global leader in data science and analytics for the consumer products industry based in Nuremberg, Germany. Born of what used to be “Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung” (the “Society for Consumer Research”), its acronym today stands for “Growth from Knowledge.” With more than 8,000 employees, GfK develops and advances innovative methods and measuring technologies for its more than 10,000 customers around the world.

To stay ahead of the competition and continue to enable customers to drive better business decisions, GfK requires fast results and applications, while ensuring data quality at scale. GfK’s hybrid cloud strategy serves as the foundation and driving force behind this mission.

We of course benefit from the public cloud and other cloud services, and we found that the balance between the public cloud offerings and on-prem offerings is where we are at the moment on our hybrid cloud journey. It’s really exciting to see what you can bring in to make the best experience for our customers,” said Ismar.

Currently, GfK’s footprint spans on-premises, VMware Cloud on AWS, Google Cloud VMware Engine, and native public clouds. With a hybrid cloud strategy, GfK can take advantage of the specific technologies and capabilities that public cloud solutions provide and make readily available, while also having more time to focus on their own in-house solutions and strategic business priorities.

Partnering with VMware

Common challenges for organizations with a multi-cloud environment are how to visualize, manage, and operationalize all the technologies, apps, and services across disparate environments.

GfK partners with VMware—leveraging VMware Cloud Foundation and vRealize Cloud Management solutions—for a consistent infrastructure and operating layer across environments for a seamless blend of on-premises and cloud-based solutions. With VMware, Ismar says they are “able to bridge the gap of having different interfaces from different providers, and actually provide the same experience. It doesn’t matter where it runs from an infrastructure point of view.

GfK quote cloud management experience

Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from their private, on-premises environment to the public cloud—and vice versa—without modifying the nature of the environment or how users interact with it. Plus, since GfK is a long-time VMware customer (for nearly a decade!), employees are already familiar with the VMware environment and can naturally extend their experience operating on-premises to now managing a hybrid cloud environment with VMware.

The benefits GfK realizes from a hybrid cloud environment with VMware can be summarized by the following:

  • Seamless operability and management across cloud environments
  • Ability to manage large data projects efficiently and quickly
  • Disaster recovery response and business continuity assurance
  • Scalability on-demand without worrying about the cost and maintenance of additional hardware
  • Faster and better customer experiences

In Ismar’s words, “Times to market are shorter, scalability is enhanced, and ultimately the total cost can be reduced. Security and governance are likewise ramped up, downtime is reduced, and the integrity of applications is preserved.

GfK quote benefits of VMware

Multi-cloud management best practices

Given Ismar’s expertise and experience, he shared a few best practices for others who are either thinking about adopting a hybrid cloud environment or already operating with one today.

One recommendation was to create a continuous feedback loop with end users. With any cloud transformation, it’s a best practice to communicate early and often with your end users, and then to maintain a continuous feedback loop. This way, you can understand first-hand from teams using cloud services and cloud management solutions what’s working, what isn’t, what they like, and what could be modified.

GfK has established what they call “Communities of Practice,” which are made up of different working groups, technologies, and business functions. Feedback from each Community of Practice is regularly collected, reviewed, and actioned to ensure continuous improvement and that the needs of the business are being met.

Another recommendation was to establish a consistent cloud governance practice across environments. One of the many benefits of the cloud is its self-service nature, which enables users to leverage cloud services and spin up new applications in an autonomous way. However, without oversight and control over these activities, security, costs, and performance can easily spiral out of control.

Being such a large organization with so many end users and environments to manage, it was critical for GfK that they established a cloud governance practice early on and that they continue to ensure policies and practices are in place to keep cloud usage and costs in check, maintain a strong security posture, and keep operations are running smoothly. In particular, Ismar emphasizes the importance of a consistent governance practice across cloud environments:

Public cloud services shouldn’t have any special treatment. We provide the same operations or the same governance model across environments—meaning security policies are the same and good configuration architecture follows that. So regardless of the environment, users know it’s always the same.

Next steps

Want to hear more? You can see the full conversation between Ismar and Betty during the VMware Multi-Cloud Briefing on the VMware Cloud YouTube channel here! And if you’re interested in learning more about cloud management—where to start, best practices, what analysts are saying, and our recommended solutions, see the resources below!

  • Assess Your Cloud Management Maturity: Take our five-minute cloud management maturity assessment to see where you stand compared to your peers in cloud financial management, operations, and security and compliance. Based on your results, you’ll also receive custom recommendations to take the next step in your cloud journey.
  • The Cloud Operating Model: At the heart of VMware’s approach to multi-cloud transformation, the Cloud Operating Model represents a way for businesses to improve operations through cloud best practices, deliver a cloud experience to consumers, and operate consistently across a multi-cloud world.
  • What Analysts Have to Say: Don’t just take our word for it. Download Forrester’s Cloud Cost Management and Optimization report, which explains the key considerations organizations should keep in mind as they evaluate cloud cost management solutions, along with an in-depth analysis of the top vendors in the space. Spoiler alert: VMware is named a Leader!
  • What Customers Have to Say: Want to hear more from our customers? Explore customer stories from the VMware Multi-Cloud community on our YouTube playlist, Customer Corner, or see all stories by industry, solution, location, or language on our website here.

About the Authors

Lauren van der Vaart

Lauren is a member of the Multi-Cloud Solutions Marketing team at VMware. She is dedicated to delivering valuable, relevant, and actionable content for customers on their cloud journey, with a focus on public cloud security, cloud financial management, and cloud governance and operations. Before joining VMware, Lauren held various roles across digital and field marketing for global technology organizations.

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