How virtualization helps manufacturing companies get into new markets faster

Looking to expand into new markets and improve speed to market, manufacturing companies worldwide are turning to virtualization to ease the process. Jim Miller, DXC’s chief technology officer and vice president for Cloud and Platform Services, and Jeff Moyer, DXC’s Global Director of Infrastructure as a Service Offerings, discuss how cloud technology combined with virtualization solutions are providing increased scalability and flexibility, while reducing costs.

Is there one key area that manufacturing companies are focused on in terms of their virtualization efforts?

Jim Miller: The area that first comes to mind is SAP. Manufacturers have been moving to hosted versions of SAP, whether in the traditional data center or in the virtual private cloud BPC (Business Planning & Consolidation) environment.

Jeff Moyer: I agree. When you look at virtualization options, about half of companies are focusing on SAP systems in VMware environments, whether they are consolidating and centralizing SAP systems or they have unique SAP needs inside a country, a region or a geography but still want global consistency.

 What advantages does virtualization bring to manufacturing companies?

Miller: First is the scalability of virtualized environments. A VMware environment can handle the smallest needs, like a small manufacturing plant or distribution center with less than 100 virtual machines, and the largest systems, for example virtualizing large ERP databases on a global scale, with tens of thousands of VMs. That scalability makes it possible to meet the needs of many manufacturers, even if they have some centralized facilities and then regional and very small plants around the world.

Moyer: Also, as a general direction, the desire of the C-suite is to see consolidation. Because virtualization really does simplify their organization, it removes points of failure, and it allows them to more rapidly upgrade their SAP environment to meet the demands of the business versus the distributed environment.

What benefits do manufacturers get by migrating to a virtualized cloud environment?

Miller: Consider supply chain information.  The majority of supply chain data can be managed globally in a cloud environment so you can adjust the supply chain for global trends, while locally you can maintain data in a private environment to run a manufacturing plant. You can determine the best place to run and house the data, then you can also adjust your infrastructure strategy or platform strategy based on the availability you need. We run one of the largest virtualized SAP environments in the world for a global manufacturing company. We helped them optimize their SAP footprint not only from a cost perspective, but from an availability and flexibility perspective to run their consumer retail manufacturing environment with SAP.

Moyer: Right.  Cloud gives companies the ability to scale at a global level and also reach down into regional deployments. A client can have a VMware system at a plant, country or regional level to support the workload there, and then be able to integrate that with other resources and operate it as one cloud, as one entity for the business. They’re not dealing with different types of systems they have to knit together on their own.

 How about when it comes to expanding into new markets?  How do virtualized cloud environments help with that?

Miller: Many manufacturers will either open a plant or acquire a business in a new region or a new country as part of their growth and expansion process. Virtualization makes it easy to drop a system into that newly acquired company or newly opened office or plant in a remote region or remote country, and fire it up and integrate it into the overall enterprise. You have that flexibility to expand into new markets or grow existing markets in new regions.

For example, if a manufacturer wants to get into Latin America they can spin up an instance there fairly easily and run the business to see if it’s a place they want to go.  A VMware solution enables them to test market things and do other things on a short-term basis which makes it difficult for others to try to emulate. From an operational standpoint, manufacturers can manage small or regional facilities with limited staff, but still retain the flexibility to scale systems based on either seasonal demand or regional demand or some fluctuation in their supply and demand cycles.

 How does virtualization play into the cost optimization story?

Moyer: IT infrastructure can be managed remotely, which is more efficient than doing it on site, and that also makes it possible to optimize the VMware skillset across the IT team. So, you can take what you have on your team and continue to leverage that as you consolidate instances. As you set up remote instances, you don’t have to go out and train people on a whole new technology and a whole new way of doing business. And as you virtualize more, as you get more comfortable with virtualization and as the applications become more readily virtualizable or containerized, you can still use that same underlying infrastructure to do that work.

We’ve got multiple cases where we’ve consolidated data centers for a client, and returned 20 to 30, and up to 40 percent of their run-rate cost by taking five or more data centers and collapsing them into a cloud environment, whether it’s a private cloud or a virtual private cloud. Global manufacturers simply cannot go it alone, and we have had tremendous success with large VMware implementations.

One example is a large parts supplier in the automotive space.  DXC is providing a converged VMware infrastructure for a complex SAP environment that’s driving speed-to-market and lowering costs. Not only is the company delivering a better experience to its customers, it is getting much improved integration with third-party suppliers. In another case, DXC implemented a hybrid infrastructure that included a VMware hypervisor for a transportation company that reduced its IT costs by 30 percent.

Miller: Also, as manufacturers refresh old environments they can move to a more modern hardware and VMware architecture that utilizes things like hyperconverged computing and VMware vSAN for an optimal platform footprint. That is very economical to run versus legacy hardware and software they have in place. So the hardware refresh cycle, which everyone must eventually undertake, is a great opportunity to leverage virtualization and hyperconverged technology to reduce their overall cost footprint for infrastructure and platform services.

Jim Miller headshotJim Miller is DXC’s chief technology officer and vice president for Cloud and Platform Services. He advises senior leadership on emerging technology trends and initiatives.

Jeff-Moyer-headshotJeff Moyer is DXC’s Global Director of Infrastructure as a Service Offerings. He leads offering managers who create, design, and deploy cloud-related service offerings.

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