The formula for successful clouds.

Since the end of October 2021, Bechtle and the German cloud provider plusserver are officially partners—preceded by a successful joint engagement in the public sector, in which high requirements for data protection and data sovereignty were at the forefront. Alexander Wallner, CEO of plusserver, and Melanie Schüle, Managing Director of Bechtle Clouds, discuss why the topic of data must not only be thought of together with transparency and compliance, but is more important today than ever as a lever for innovation.

The cloud market is one of the most dynamic arenas of digitalisation. What developments have had the greatest impact on it in recent years?

Melanie Schüle: A variety of offerings and the far-reaching idea of cloud computing were, of course, already available long before the pandemic, but not yet so tangible on a broad scale. Developments since then have significantly fuelled cloud usage. The first thing was to stay connected in difficult situations, to stay productive—regardless of the location and the tasks. This was simply no longer possible with classic office models.


We have helped numerous companies, schools and administrations to remain operational, sometimes within a few hours, on the basis of the cloud. That was enormously important. At the same time, this was the impetus for many to take a closer look at the cloud.


What has resulted is an awareness of the whole ocean of opportunities the cloud can bring. Continuously developing this with topics such as security and compliance and anchoring it in sustainable solutions is one of the essential tasks that result from this.

 

Melanie Schüle has been Managing Director of Bechtle Clouds GmbH since 2018, which provides crucial support for Bechtle’s activities as a multi-cloud service provider. She started her career at Bechtle in product management for a strategic vendor partner, was later responsible for Bechtle’s network solution strategy and established new business models, such as the IT Business Architect Programme, which is one of Bechtle’s key differentiators in the market. Melanie Schüle is married and has two sons.

Alexander Wallner: I absolutely agree. Above all, the topic of IT security is red-hot, as the impacts are striking closer to home. That is why it is important to make it clear to our customers that their data is safe with us—perhaps even safer than in their own data centres. Security has become the core competence of IT, as it is critical to the company and the business. Corporate executives today demand a cohesive security concept from their CIOs.


In terms of cloud adoption, I have also seen positive effects in recent years. Nevertheless, I have the impression that innovation projects in this country are not yet progressing as quickly as would be desirable for Germany as a business location. Quite the opposite, in fact. The pandemic has led to a lack of innovation in Germany.


. In international competition, regions such as Asia and North America are already much further ahead, for example in the use of artificial intelligence. This increases the pressure to close the gaps even faster. The digital transformation has certainly taken off and is gaining momentum—also from the new federal government. But it has by no means reached its goal yet. 2022 will be a landmark year.

 

How far along are companies and public sector clients in their cloud transformation? Are they still sounding out their cloud strategies or do they already have their foot on the accelerator?

Alexander Wallner: We know from many conversations that customers almost without exception recognise the cloud as an important resource and define it as an integral part of their IT strategy. However, the assumption that everyone therefore knows exactly what they need from the cloud is not true. Two effects are noticeable here. On the client side, there are not enough skilled workers to leverage innovation from the cloud. Moreover, many players in Germany are not “born in the cloud”. This means that there is a certain amount of legacy IT that needs to be made cloud-enabled or is not suitable for this at all. With this come many challenges that are still beyond all the possibilities that the cloud offers as a fantastic technology stack.

Melanie Schüle: We’ve had similar experiences. The wish to leverage the cloud is a central theme here. A few years ago, things were a little different. In Germany in particular, there has been a significant change, especially when we look at the public sector. For many, it is now a matter of mastering this entry into the cloud properly. In doing so, the excellence of German companies in manufacturing, trade and other sectors meets rapidly developing cloud technology. We support our customers in planning and designing their cloud journey in a transparent and controllable way.

 

 

Alexander Wallner has been CEO of the plusserver Group since July 2021. In addition to heading up operational business strategy, he is responsible for the go-to-market of the products and solutions as well as for the expansion of the strong partner ecosystem. He has more than 20 years of experience in the German and European IT market as well as in the expansion and management of sales teams.

 

What are the main concerns for companies and public clients?

Alexander Wallner: When talking with the customer, it is important to centre the discussion around the data r, not the infrastructure. After all, data is what they care about most—and where the greatest competitive advantages through cloud use also lie. But the reality today is that many companies do not yet have a clear picture of their data. Where has the data come from? Do we have a data hierarchy and classification? Which data can be stored outside Germany and which would give us a big headache if we did so? If we manage to demystify the topic of data and develop a clear understanding of where the data sources are, where they come from and where they will emerge in the future in the age of the Internet of Things, we will be a significant step closer to harnessing their potential.

Melanie Schüle: The topic of data sovereignty plays a very big role. Closely linked to IT security and compliance, they are indispensable factors on the way to the cloud. This is somewhat at odds with the high speed and maximum diversity that digitalisation generally dictates and which has recently gained even more momentum. Therefore, it is crucial to advise customers comprehensively and to show them holistic solutions that can fulfil their requirements on the technological side as well as with regard to legal compliance down to the last detail.

 

Speaking of digital sovereignty, plusserver is a founding member of the European Gaia-X initiative, which is dedicated to precisely this topic. Mr Wallner, why did your company get involved in the initiative right from the start?

Alexander Wallner: Gaia-X initially brought together medium-sized cloud providers from Germany and Europe. One of the goals was to form a European counterweight to the globally dominant cloud providers and to strengthen the competitiveness and independence of European players. In my opinion, however, the only right thing to do was to keep the initiative open to US manufacturers as well. It is never an either-or situation, but rather a matter of building up our own intellectual property in Europe and at the same time cooperatively integrating the added values of the leading technology companies into the offers for our customers. 


A very important part of Gaia-X is the collaboration on the Sovereign Cloud Stack (SCS), where we are driving independent development with other companies in the area of open source. This is not about creating a proprietary architecture or adapting existing technology stacks. We are really driving our own developments here, which then also give us the opportunity to scale and hyperscale. This is probably the main driver of innovation for the European cloud project.


What does the collaboration on the development of such technological standards as the Sovereign Cloud Stack (SCS) look like in concrete terms?

Alexander Wallner: We are involved in this with our own development and architecture unit, which is working exclusively on this project. The aim is to develop concrete offers from this that provide an alternative for the operation of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Some customer groups, such as the public sector, are increasingly demanding this. The activities as a technology developer are also important for us to distinguish ourselves in the market through our own competences, which is why we deliberately refrain from offshoring, for example, in order to promote competences and intellectual property in Germany. 

Melanie Schüle: The approach of investing in our own competencies and offerings in a fearless and customer-oriented manner is also one of the reasons why plusserver and Bechtle are an excellent match. With our independently developed Bechtle Clouds platform, we have significantly simplified the procurement and management of cloud services from different manufacturers for our customers. Through the Service Factory, we also provide a steadily growing number of cloud offerings as fully managed services. This creates excellent points of contact for optimally coordinating the activities of plusserver and Bechtle. The next steps are the joint development of services and solution scenarios to create further added value for our customers and to make their start and use as simple and as diverse as possible.

 

Contact person.

Bechtle update Redaktion

update@bechtle.com

 

Links.

  • Portfolio: pluscloud open – pluscloud open – The data sovereign open source cloud in Germany.

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This post was published on Feb 2, 2022.