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Blue Chip Cloud

Taking SAP and SAP HANA workloads to the cloud

The landscape for hybrid cloud is changing and there are fresh opportunities out there for businesses from these new innovations. Blue Chip already has an impressive IBM Power Cloud, one of the largest in the world, and has additional options for other platforms, such as x86. Now we're going further to innovate, as we team up with Centiq to help businesses take their SAP and SAP HANA workloads to the cloud. Chris Smith, the Sales & Marketing Director for Blue Chip, sits with Matt Lovell, CEO of Centiq, to talk about what this tie-up means for business technology.

Chris Smith

Sales and Marketing Director at Blue Chip

Businesses who need to establish SAP HANA in the cloud should look to Blue Chip. Our Sales and Marketing Director, Chris Smith, spoke on the Disruptive Live about our partnership with Centiq, ensuring your SAP and SAPA HANA workloads are rapidly tackled secure, accredited, compliant and flexible Private Cloud.

Matt Lovell: Great to be here, already so busy and a great crowd and we're delighted to be joined by Chris Smith, who's a Sales & Marketing Director from Blue Chip.

Chris Smith: Thanks for the invite! Great to be here!

Will Spalding: A pleasure having you on. So, Chris, you've really come on to talk about the way how the hybrid landscape is really changing and in particular as well, within multi-cloud, haven't you? So, tell us a little bit about that, with Blue Chip's perspective.

Chris Smith: Okay, so I personally feel that a lot of companies now that are in the different stages in their cloud journey, I think it's got to a point now where it's mature and people are realising that there's, well, it might be 'cloud first' as a strategy, it's not just one cloud to choose from. Each cloud has its own pluses and minuses, and each application needs to be in the right place, so the multi-cloud/hybrid-cloud is 100% the future I see for customers and the industry at the moment. That's what we've built and can deliver as Blue Chip.

Matt Lovell: I think that a great thing that we're seeing here, observing it year on year, is the way in which clouds are actually being brought together, both in with suppliers and partners, in ecosystems, to give a more rounded and more complete outcome and solve the problem for customers. Do you find the same with Blue Chip?

Chris Smith: Oh, 100% as you well know, Matt! We'll cover that in a moment, I'm sure. I think that, from a customer point-of-view, people initially at least I think, thought 'I've got this application, I'm going to push it up in the cloud and don't care where it is!' Now they're realising that, actually, there's some potential security problems with that, potentially some real painful cost problems with that as well. Actually, the actual location of the cloud and what the cloud is built on, is almost as important as the application and where you put the application, so, in order to deliver a great cloud service, it's not just about the app, it's a combination of the app and the technology and the location of the cloud you're using as well I think. And that's where we come in.

Will Spalding: Yeah, give us a little bit more...

Matt Lovell: I guess, where we've identified this is that customers have embraced public cloud and public cloud services and obviously, the agile methodologies engaged to actually transitioning those workloads. I wouldn't necessarily say 'transformed', some are changing the application architecture completely. We're looking at the way some automate, but actually customers still have the challenges where by certainly for the larger, enterprise customers, the workload may still be well-defined and well-suited to obviously a private cloud architecture or there is more scale in using, say, a Power platform from Blue Chip.

Chris Smith: Yeah, and like I said, I think there's a certainty in costs that people are looking for when they're building that as well. So when they're looking to push these large scale applications into the cloud, quite often they're not aware of some of the other costs involved. Certainly most of the other public cloud providers will give you a price for the compute, the storage... If you're running a traditional development team, they're not going to give you a price for moving that data around, for backing it up, for replicating it, time and time again. In the old way, a lot of these legacy development teams work, what you find is, your customer will start with a certain price in mind and by the end of it, they could be eight times over budget. So what we deliver from our cloud is certainty of cost and certainty of security as well. And then, how we partner with Matt, and Matt's company Centiq, we're then able to deliver SAP, SAP HANA, on top of our infrastructure in a really seamless way. The way we've combined our skills together to delivering a DevOps open-stack-based methodology, we can script the delivery of all of the infrastructure, and the application together. In reality we can deliver a whole SAP HANA environment within hours.

Matt Lovell: And the problem that we were trying to solve was actually, the customer has to multi-source or create their own ecosystem to solve that problem, to migrate it, you know what they want is a single-supplier relationship that's going to manage the transition from where are to obviously the next stage in their journey and that could involve the cloud or connectivity to the public cloud, which Blue Chip offers as well, doesn't it?

Chris Smith: Yeah, and I think like I mentioned earlier around the hybrid cloud,/multi cloud approach, we have to recognise that there is a place for applications in the public cloud as well. It doesn't work for everyone though, so you need that hybrid strategy, you need that connectivity into the public cloud, but also you need a guarantee of security, replacement of data, an understanding of that and also, feasible costs. And know how much it's going to cost.

Matt Lovell: Absolutely, and there's a case of, we've been working independently, in terms of, the devops approach, the agile approach, the technology selection. It so happened that we can harmonise those, because they were more or less identical streams.

Chris Smith: Yeah and having worked together for seventeen years already, I'm surprised we didn't do it before, to be honest, but we're there now, we're already finding success from it, so it's really resonating in the marketplace.

Will Spalding: Having said that, you know, you've known each other now for seventeen years, been working with each other for that amount of time, where do you see, I suppose, I feel like, I feel like you're my co-host, I feel like I'm interviewing both at the same time! Where do you see the relationship I suppose going forward and using new technology with AI, IoT, whether or not that necessarily directly affects you guys, where do you see that having an impact as well, in terms of what you guys have to offer as joint partners, working together?

Chris Smith: So, I personally feel with AI, I keep referring to it as 'the new cloud'. There's a bit of a hype cycle around cloud, we've gone round now, we're still in the early stages around AI. I think there's a lot of people talking about AI, a lot of people offering AI as a service and delivering, some people actually delivering insights to the customer at the end of it. I think it's still early days with AI if I'm perfectly honest. I think there's more to come from it and it's an emerging area, but I think when you're looking at these kind of solutions like we've spoken about now, you have to build things like AI and IoT into that solution as you're delivering it, as you're planning it. I've worked with customers who want to bolt it on, and it becomes very very difficult to do that. It needs to be part of the solution, part of the delivery in reality.

Matt Lovell: But it's a vision isn't it? Customers are looking to say, you know, how do we create more value? So we enable, we go to the cloud. How do we then build upon the value, how do we leverage this technology to... we've got the data already, you know, how do we extrapolate, you know, a greater customer experience, build on these services, towards to make it more straightforward, to simplify...

Chris Smith: Yeah and at Blue Chip we have an internal team solely dedicated to analytics, within the business. We've got IBM's Power AI systems, we have other BI tools as well, that we utilise internally. So we're growing and we're developing this. We recognise that as a managed services provider and a cloud services provider, we hold the data for a lot of customers. A lot of customers! First of all, our customers want to know where their data is and that it's secure and safe, but also if they're going to do analytics, that analytics needs to be next to that data. They don't want to send that data somewhere else, that's the whole point of having it where it is. So we see it as, for us, a future strategy to be delivering those services to the customers, but at the time it's right and the time that there's something to be achieved out of it.

Matt Lovell: And there's a tremendous alliance in there with yourselves and IBM, and IBM are clearly thought leaders in, obviously, the Watson technology and numerous other applications and companies, thought leaders in that space, that have actually driven customer value and sporting events and medical analysis.

Chris Smith: And we get a lot of support from IBM around that as well, so like I said, we're growing that technology, we're growing that understanding. It's something that we're going to be delivering more and more to customers as we go forward. AI in itself, at the moment, is emerging. I think it's still emerging. There are some people that are leaving it, and some people that...

Will Spalding: It depends who you speak to really though, isn't it, if you're selling it, they're going to say it's the big thing?

Chris Smith: Exactly.

Will Spalding: So, just quickly as well, Chris, because we are going to wrap things up steadily as well. Is there anything you're really looking forward to seeing at this year's Cloud Expo? I mean, the first one is, kind of, a year upon us?

Chris Smith: Yeah, it's a big one for us, we've invested a lot of time in this, we've got a giant balloon over our stand, so you can find us very easily! I'm just looking forward to the whole day actually. So far, bearing in mind we've only been here an hour and a half, I took it off as a success so far.

Will Spalding: Yeah! It's got a good buzz around it, hasn't it?

Chris Smith: It's got a great buzz.

Matt Lovell: Really busy.

Chris Smith: So busy. I came to another show previously and it was very very quiet! This one is great.