Interview with Marcel Walker, Head of Network & Cloud
Swisscom is introducing two new cloud services. Why this offer is unique in Switzerland is explained by Marcel Walker, Head of Network & Cloud.
Text: Hansjörg Honegger, images: © Daniel Brühlmann, 30. September 2017
Swisscom is introducing Enterprise Service Cloud and Enterprise Cloud for SAP Solutions: What’s new? Swisscom has offered cloud services for a long time.
These clouds are specifically set up for companies that value being located in Switzerland, in terms of data storage, as well as access to local experts. It is integration that sets us apart. Our Enterprise Service Cloud is primarily targeted at customers with complex IT landscapes and, in the case of the cloud solution for SAP, at customers who wish to operate their existing SAP landscape in the cloud. We place particular value on network and security integration and offer powerful Managed Services. In the future, we will complement the hybrid architecture with global cloud offers.
Marcel Walker, Head of Network & Cloud, Swisscom
What sets the Enterprise Service Cloud and SAP Cloud apart from other service providers’ offers?
We integrate networks and security solutions with cloud platforms in Switzerland and abroad. This is combined with local service management in various regions. Swisscom is the only provider with its own network and data centres. Our security solutions have a great reputation on the market. Managed Services, such as Managed OS or databases, for example, ensure that the infrastructure services always remain up-to-date with a high degree of automation. In the SAP environment, there are specific services available to customers who wish to have their SAP solution - hosted in Switzerland - operated with a high degree of automation. We are now making all these services available in a highly standardised manner with «Pay As You Use» tariff models. Of course, this will be made available under an integrated Service Management Layer.
Marcel Walker, 54, is Head of Network & Cloud, as well as being a member of the Executive Board of Swisscom Enterprise Customers. He began his career in banking and was the CEO of Comit, a leading provider of IT solutions to the finance sector, over a number of years. Since 2014, Marcel Walker has managed the Network & Cloud Solution Center and ensures that Swisscom retains its leading role in the digitisation of the Swiss economy.
A cloud of this kind is really nothing new. Why has it taken Swisscom such a long time, in relative terms, to come up with this solution?
That's right. We were one of the first companies in Switzerland to develop a cloud for businesses around three-and-a-half years ago. Our strategy was to select the best one from various providers and to then assemble it. This approach didn’t work for various reasons.
What was the consequence?
We refocussed on our really distinguishing features: Service management, security, network integration and proximity to customers. We purchase the cloud architecture technology – which, incidentally, was not yet available in this way on the market four years ago – from a strategic partner. No one else on the Swiss market is positioned like we are today.
Who are the strategic partners?
It’s Dell/EMC and VMware – partners who are providing these technologies across the globe with very good reputations. The global cloud partners are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Many companies – especially the large ones – have already switched to the cloud. Is there even still a market with new customers for Swisscom?
Absolutely. There are a great number of companies in Switzerland that have yet to take that big step into the cloud. Many took some tentative first steps but no more than that. Now, the issue has come of age and companies are looking for their own individual route into the cloud – this is where we reach out a hand with our local experts, even for global offers.
Were you under a lot of pressure from customers?
Of course. But our customers see the complexity of the offer and they want the solution to really work from the second switch-on. In any case, the greatest pressure came from ourselves.
What do customers want? Do medium-sized companies in Switzerland gravitate towards Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or Private Cloud? And: Is there even anyone who can still afford the last one?
Two years ago, most companies still wanted a Private Cloud. Today, it’s all about Hybrid Cloud. Our cloud is also fully hybrid; the customer determines which applications should run where and which data need to be secured where. Always taking into consideration the demands on the network, which are sometimes really complex, and the necessary security architecture.
Taking the step towards migrating an operative IT system into the cloud is difficult. How does Swisscom support its customers in this process?
We have a consultation and transformation framework called «Journey to the Cloud». This covers various modules. It starts with an inventory and evaluates, together with the customer, what should run where: data storage, performance, locations, applications, security. The actual migration has to be prepared meticulously.
And what if the customer realises that the offer doesn’t quite fit?
The customer usually evaluates its partner with the help of specialist advisors. Pilot installations can also be carried out as part of tenders.
The cloud business is ultimately profitable thanks to its large degree of scalability. Is Switzerland big enough for this type of business?
Absolutely. From Autumn 2017, we are also integrating capabilities offered by Amazon and Microsoft Azure. The important thing is this: Swisscom is the service provider. The customer doesn’t have to monitor different platforms, we integrate everything. That’s massively important, especially when it comes to security.
Swisscom now also offers SAP in the cloud. What does that mean exactly?
We are the largest SAP service provider in Switzerland. Up to now, our customers’ SAP environments have run on dedicated servers located with us. We will now migrate everything onto Enterprise Cloud for SAP Solutions. That is extremely attractive for both existing customers and new ones. The customer gets an integrated solution and can – in Switzerland, uniquely – operate its existing SAP landscape from the cloud, even for the HANA workload. We take care of network integration, security and performance. This takes a huge amount of pressure off the customer.
Are there also other specific solutions, for example for banks or insurance companies, which entail very exacting demands in terms of compliance?
Swisscom is the largest outsourcing provider for Swiss banks. The increased safety requirements from the FINMA circular will be implemented in the Enterprise Service Cloud at the end of Q1/2018.
The development, operation and implementation of such a cloud requires highly qualified specialists, just like consultation. Is that a problem?
No. Swisscom has a very good reputation as an employer, which is also recognised by young professionals.
Will companies with their own IT still exist in 10 or 15 years’ time?
The question isn’t whether they will still have their own IT. The question is which tasks the internal IT will cover. We are convinced that infrastructure services such as network, cloud and security will be obtained largely from specialist service providers. This gives companies the space to focus their IT specialists on the development of services which help to differentiate the company’s market presence.
The Enterprise Service Cloud is a universal cloud, which covers everything from infrastructure and platform services to managed services and outsourcing. It makes it possible to integrate an existing, even hybrid, IT landscape into the cloud and runs in Swisscom data centres. It complements and completes Swisscom’s other cloud offers, which can be fully integrated.
With Enterprise Cloud for SAP Solutions, customers can acquire virtual SAP HANA servers in just a few hours and adapt them dynamically or boot up test systems for new processes within minutes. The servers and entities can be managed at the touch of a button via a self-service portal and are invoiced based on needs. Enterprise Cloud for SAP Solutions can also be fully integrated into Swisscom’s other cloud offers.
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