Probal Sil | Elyzium | IP Expo

Avatar Ben Fower | 15/11/2018

Probal Sil joined us at IP Expo to talk about workload automation in technology and business. Hosted by Bill Mew and Savannah O’Hare.

Bill: So please introduce yourself properly excuse my pronunciation and tell us about the organization you work for.

Probal: I’m Probal Sil from Elysium, we’re an IBM gold business partner specializing in workload automation.

Bill: Okay and in terms of workload automation, you’re serving a particular niche a particular industry, or is it very broad the application?

Probal: It’s fairly broad in terms of organisations. We predominantly work in the data centre space so it’s with larger organisations. But where we’re seeing a lot of growth is within the cloud area. So, where organisations have a cloud strategy, automation becomes key to that. So historically within the data centre automation is key but you can’t have hundreds of people looking after servers. You have to have a much smaller group and provide them with the automation to do it. That’s the same in the cloud world as well because the cloud effectively is a pay as you go data centre service. So, the move organisations have from an on-premise data centre to the cloud automation becomes even more important because you’ve got the same group of people managing it but the infrastructures much larger.

Bill: And does your automation work across and a hybrid environment?

Probal: Yes, absolutely. There’s always a single point of control, but the underlying architecture is hybrid, it’s on-premise, it’s within the cloud, it’s wherever you want it to be.

Bill: And you say you’re an IBM business partner?

Probal: Very much so.

Bill: Do you work predominantly with IBM Technologies and platforms or do you have a very broad agnostic view of the platforms that you help to automate and manage?

Probal: From a product point of view. Yes, we’re very much focused around the IBM space, but we’re a consulting lead organisation. So, what we do for customers, is to actually review what they’ve got. Where are you today? Where do you need to get to? The roadmap of how to get there and actually deliver something that’s fit for purpose. Underpinning that if they need a solution to actually do that, then we recommend the IBM product.

Bill: I’m a former IBMer myself, so I won’t argue against that and I’m very familiar from the Eye the ZU and all the other different platforms that they’ve got but obviously the challenge for many organisation at this point in time is rationalising or what a lot of what they’ve got on-prem and identifying which workloads are moving to the cloud and quite often for many of the customers. I’m sure you’re aware that much of a low-hanging fruit has already been possibly migrated to the cloud in terms of looking at automation and migration. What are the big challenges that clients are now facing?

Probal: Well historically with their data centre, it’s not a single product that they have, they have multiple products based on either geographies or lines of business or different focuses within that organisation the move to cloud needs to consolidation. So again, with where are you today? Where do you need to get to? The roadmap of how to get there is how do you then consolidate onto a single platform? To then deliver what the business needs. Typically the stuff that’s going on within the cloud is new business ventures, historically, people have moved to the clouds to reduce their costs of data centre space, but now new innovation is being delivered through the cloud and that becomes very important and automation is key to that because when you develop an application and you’re continuously updating it you’re producing new fresh functionality for it. If you don’t have the underlying management and automation then new business service can be degraded.

Bill: You mentioned that people have built very heterogeneous environments with all sorts of different technologies and many of these have been totally unintentional. There may be elements of shadow ID departments buying left, right and centre and there may be any number of MNA’s in their history where they had to cobble together all sorts of different platforms and technologies with God knows what sort of spaghetti sometimes overlaying it.  Trying to see what you can automate, what you can manage and what you can take to the cloud is the devil’s own job. What are the sort of skills that you bring to apply to try and make sense of all this?

Probal: That’s where organisations have seen their costs spiral as a result of it, but it’s taking it in bite-size pieces. You don’t try and do it all in one go, you’ve got to unpick the bowl of spaghetti as it were. So, what are the quick wins in that roadmap of how to get to the new environment? What are the steps? What are the pieces that go first rather than more complex pieces that then need re-engineering to then take to the cloud? It’s that step approach that delivers the value. If you try and do it all in one go chances are you’re not going to see any cost savings for a very long time and you’re taking what potentially is a mess internally and replicating it within the cloud. So, the cloud strategy and the underpinning automation strategy has to be a bite-size approach in order to do that.

Bill: It sounds like a very pragmatic approach needs to apply to these sorts of challenges.

Probal: Yes, absolutely. Experience has taught us that there’s no other way of doing it really.

Bill: But obviously you may have a maze of spaghetti and sometimes analyzing exactly what sort of mess you’ve got is part of the challenge, but then when it comes to migration, there are some, virtualised workloads you could possibly lift and shift. There are others that in order to gain the real true benefits of the cloud you’re going to have to re-engineer for cloud-native environment. What are your recommendations in how you grasp those challenges? Is it a pragmatic approach where you possibly lift and shift a few things and then look to re-engineer them later or what are the steps that you tend to recommend?

Probal: Well, it has to be on a case-by-case basis. So, when you’re moving a piece of software for want of a better word over to the cloud. How do you do that? What are the benefits of either lifting and shifting or re-engineering and moving? At the end of the day, there has to be a business benefit in doing that and what’s delivered about business benefits at the greater speed.

Bill: And during that sort of pragmatic approach that you recommend in terms of that transition. What are the challenges in automating across the whole estate during those different buildings? What is this sort of approach? And what are the special secrets that you guys provide that makes you stand out from the crowd?

Probal: It has to be flexible. You’ve got to prioritise, and the underpinning automation has to fit into the priorities that the business has. Typically it’s the line of business these days that are driving those sorts of changes. So what are their objectives not what are the objectives of IT? So how does IT and in particular automation, underpin what they’re trying to do from a business perspective?

Bill: And when we’re looking at Automation and we’re looking further ahead. Obviously, AI machine learning other things are on the horizon. Are you adopting and many of these technologies in order to support a lot of your own tools?

Probal: We are adopting some for our internal processes but not for our customer facing environment. Not yet.

Bill: Do you think that as a development that you’re looking at in the future?

Probal: Yes. A lot of what we do is very much based on brain power in actually creating those plans for our customers AI can augment that, but it certainly won’t replace it. It’s very much a people-based business.

Bill: Well, I hope you’ve got that and obviously when you’ve got a people based business, obviously one of the big challenges is skills and talent.

Probal: Yes.

Bill: And it is this something that is a perennial challenge for you guys?

Probal: Well, it has to be a significant investment that we make with our partners to ensure that we know the latest and greatest in terms of what they can provide but also in the industry in general as well because it’s so fast-moving that we have to always keep on top of it or else we’ll just be left behind and that affects our customers.

Bill: Fascinating stuff. Savannah any questions on your side?

Savannah: Yeah just going to ask if you are announcing anything? if you were speaking at this show for these two days

Probal: No, I’m not, just here to browse and find out what the latest and greatest things are.

Bill: Anything that stood out for you at the event here today?

Probal: Well, the area that I’m particularly interested in is microservices so talking to the people at Docker that’s been very important but all of our customers are moving that way.

Bill: Obviously, Docker have been real pioneers in the whole container environment and Kubernetes and overtaking them, arguably. Do you find that the arrival of such technologies and the advent of multi-cloud have made things more complex? because some of your clients are looking to go in more different directions or are these foundation technologies in the container environment like Docker and Kubernetes simplifying matters?

Probal: Well clearly it delivers business benefit, but it does introduce another layer of complexity and another layer of abstraction which makes automation even more important.


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