Showing posts with label manufacturing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manufacturing. Show all posts

Thursday, August 29, 2019

HPE and PTC Join Forces to Deliver Best Outcomes from the OT-IT Productivity Revolution

https://www.ptc.com/en/

A discussion on how the latest data analysis platforms bring operational technology benefits to the edge for real-time insights in manufacturing.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer podcast series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on digital transformation success stories.

Gardner
Our next edge computing trends discussion explores the rapidly evolving confluence of operational technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT). New advances in data processing, real-time analytics, and platform efficiency have prompted innovative and impactful OT approaches at the edge.

We’ll now hear how such data analysis platforms bring manufacturers data-center caliber benefits for real-time insights where they are needed most.

To hear more about the latest capabilities in gaining unprecedented operational insights, please join me in welcoming Riaan Lourens, Vice President of Technology in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at PTC. Welcome, Riaan.

Riaan Lourens: Hey, Dana. Thanks for having me.


Gardner: We are also here with Tripp Partain, Chief Technology Officer of IoT Solutions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Welcome, Tripp.

Tripp Partain: Hey, Dana. Thanks a lot. I appreciate the opportunity.

Gardner: Riaan, what kinds of new insights are manufacturers seeking into how their operations perform?

Lourens
Lourens: We are in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is really an extension of the third, where we used electronics and IT to automate manufacturing. Now, the fourth is the digital revolution, a fusion of technology and capabilities that blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds.

With the influx of these technologies, both hardware and software, our customers -- and manufacturing as a whole, as well as the discrete process industries -- are finding opportunities to either save or make more money. The trend is focused on looking at technology as a business strategy, as opposed to just pure IT operations.

Digital revolution in business

There are a number of examples of how our customers have leveraged technology to drive their business strategy.

Gardner: Are we entering a golden age by combining what OT and IT have matured into over the past couple of decades? If we call this Industrial Revolution 4.0, (I4.0) there must be some kind of major opportunities right now.

Lourens: There are a lot of initiatives out there, whether it’s I4.0, Made in China 2025, or the Smart Factory Initiative in the US. By democratizing the process of providing value -- be it with cloud capabilities, edge computing, or anything in between – we are inherently providing options for manufacturers to solve problems that they were not able to solve before.
The opportunity for manufacturers today allows them to solve problems that they face almost immediately. There is quick time-to-value by leveraging technology that is consumable.

If you look at it from a broader technology standpoint, in the past we had very large, monolith-like deployments of technology. If you look at it from the ISA-95 model, like Level 3 or Level 4, your MES deployments or large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP), those were very large deployments that took many years. And the return on investment (ROI) the manufacturers saw would potentially pay off over many years.

The opportunity that exists for manufacturers today, however, allows them to solve problems that they face almost immediately. There is quick time-to-value by leveraging technology that is consumable. Then they can lift and drop and so scale [those new solutions] across the enterprise. That does make this an era the likes of which nobody has seen before.

Gardner: Tripp, do you agree that we are in a golden age here? It seems to me that we are able to both accommodate a great deal of diversity and heterogeneity of the edge, across all sorts of endpoints and sensors, but also bring that into a common-platform approach. We get the best of efficiency and automation.

Partain: There is a combination of two things. One, due to the smartphone evolution over the last 10 years, the types of sensors and chips that have been created to drive that at the consumer level are now at such reasonable price points you are able to apply these to industrial areas.

Partain
To Riaan’s point, the price points of these technologies have gotten really low -- but the capabilities are really high. A lot of existing equipment in a manufacturing environment that might have 20 or 30 years of life left can be retrofitted with these sensors and capabilities to give insights and compute capabilities at the edge. The capability to interact in real-time with those sensors provides platforms that didn’t exist even five years ago. That combines with the right software capabilities so that manufacturers and industrials get insights that they never had before into their processes.

Gardner: How is the partnership between PTC and HPE taking advantage of this new opportunity? It seems you are coming from different vantage points but reinforcing one another. How is the whole greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to the partnership?

Partnership for progress, flexibility

Lourens: For some context, PTC is a software vendor. Over the last 30 years we targeted our efforts at helping manufacturers either engineer software with computer-aided design (CAD) or product lifecycle management (PLM). We have evolved to our growth areas today of IoT solution platforms and augmented reality (AR) capabilities.

The challenge that manufacturers face today is not just a software problem. It requires a robust ecosystem of hardware vendors, software vendors, and solutions partners, such as regional or global systems integrators.

The reason we work very closely with HPE as an alliance partner is because HPE is a leader in the space. HPE has a strong offering of compute capabilities -- from very small gateway-level compute all the way through to hybrid technologies and converged infrastructure technologies.

Ultimately our customers need flexible options to deploy software at the right place, at the right time, and throughout any part of their network. We find that HPE is a strong partner on this front.

Gardner: Tripp, not only do we have lower cost and higher capability at the edge, we also have a continuum of hybrid IT. We can use on-premises micro-datacenters, converged infrastructure, private cloud, and public cloud options to choose from. Why is that also accelerating the benefits for manufacturers? Why is a continuum of hybrid IT – edge to cloud -- an important factor?

Partain: That flexibility is required if you look at the industrial environments where these problems are occurring for our joint customers. If you look at any given product line where manufacturing takes place -- no two regions are the same and no two factories are the same. Even within a factory, a lot of times, no two production lines are the same.

https://www.ptc.com/en/partners/hpe

There is a wide diversity in how manufacturing takes place. You need to be able to meet those challenge with the customers to give them the deployment options that meet each of those environments.

It’s interesting. Factories don’t do enterprise IT-like deployments, where every factory takes on new capabilities at the same time. It’s much more balanced in the way that products are made. You have to be able to have that same level of flexibility in how you deploy the solutions, to allow it to be absorbed the same way the factories do all of their other types of processes.

We have seen the need for different levels of IT to match up to the way they are implemented in different types of factories. That flexibility meets them where they are and allows them to get to the value much quicker -- and not wait for some huge enterprise rollout, like what Riaan described earlier with ERP systems that take multiple years.

By leveraging new, hybrid, converged, and flexible environments, we allow a single plant to deploy multiple solutions and get results much quicker. We can also still work that into an enterprise-wide deployment -- and get a better balance between time and return.

https://www.ptc.com/en/
Gardner: Riaan, you earlier mentioned democratization. That jumped out at me. How are we able to take these advances in systems, software, and access and availability of deployments and make that consumable by people who are not data scientists? How are we able to take the results of what the technology does and make it actionable, even using things like AR?

Lourens: As Tripp described, every manufacturing facility is different. There are typically different line configurations, different programmable logic controller (PLC) configurations, different heterogeneous systems -- be it legacy IT systems or homegrown systems -- so the ability to leverage what is there is inherently important.

From a strategic perspective, PTC has two core platforms; one being our ThingWorx Platform that allows you to source data and information from existing systems that are there, as well as from assets directly via the PLC or by embedding software into machines.

We also have the ability to simplify and contextualize all of that information and make sense of it. We can then drive analytical insights out of the data that we now have access to. Ultimately we can orchestrate with end users in their different personas – be that the maintenance operator, supervisor, or plant manager -- enabling and engaging with these different users through AR.

Four capabilities for value 

There are four capabilities that allow you to derive value. Ultimately our strategy is to bring that up a level and to provide capabilities solutions to our end customers across four different areas.

https://www.ptc.com/en/products/iiot/thingworx-platformOne, we look at it from an enterprise operational intelligence perspective; the second is intelligent asset optimization; the third, digital workforce productivity, and fourth, scalable production management.

So across those four solution areas we can apply our technology together with that of our sourced partners. We allow our customers to find use-cases within those four solution areas that provides them a return on investment.

One example of that would be leveraging augmented work instructions. So instead of an operator going through a maintenance procedure by opening a folder of hundreds of pages of instructions, they can leverage new technology such as AR to guide the operator in process, and in situ, in terms of how to do something.

There are many use cases across those four solution areas that leverage the core capabilities across the IoT platform, ThingWorx, as well as the AR platform, Vuforia.


Gardner: Tripp, it sounds like we are taking the best of what people can do and the best of what systems and analytics can do. We also move from batch processing to real time. We have location-based services so we can tell where things and people are in new ways. And then we empower people in ways that we hadn’t done before, such as AR.

Are we at the point where we’re combining the best of cognitive human capabilities and machine capabilities?

Partain: I don’t know if we have gotten to the best yet, but probably the best of what we’ve had so far. As we continue to evolve these technologies and find new ways to look at problems with different technology -- it will continue to evolve.

We are getting to the new sweet spot, if you will, of putting the two together and being able to drive advancements forward. One of the things that’s critical has to do with where our current workforce is.

A number of manufacturers I talk to -- and I’ve heard similar from PTC’s customers and our joint customers -- is you are at a tipping point in terms of the current talent pool, with those currently employed and those getting close to retirement age.

https://www.hpe.com/us/en/home.htmlThe next generation that’s coming in is not going to have the same longevity and the same skill sets. Having these newer technologies and bringing these pieces together, it’s not only a new matchup based on the new technology – it’s also better suited for the type of workers carrying these activities forward. Manufacturing is not going away, but it’s going to be a very different generation of factory workers and types of technologies.

The solutions are now available to really enhance those jobs. We are starting to see all of the pieces come together. That’s where both IoT solutions -- but even especially AR solutions like PTC Vuforia -- really come into play.

Gardner: Riaan, in a large manufacturing environment, only small iterative improvements can make a big impact on the economics, the bottom line. What sort of future categorical improvements value are we looking at? To what degree do we have an opportunity to make manufacturing more efficient, more productive, more economically powerful?

Tech bridges skills gap, talent shortage

Lourens: If you look at it from the angle that Tripp just referred to, there are a number of increasing pressures across the board in the industrial markets via the workers’ skills gap. Products are also becoming more complex. Workspaces are becoming more complex. There are also increasing customer demands and expectations. Markets are just becoming more fiercely competitive.

But if you leverage capabilities such as AR -- which provides augmented 3-D work instructions, expert guidance, and remote assistance, training, and demonstrations -- that’s one area. If you combine that, to Tripp’s point, with the new IoT capabilities, then I think you can look at improvements such as reducing waste in processes and materials.
We have seen customers reducing by 30 percent unplanned downtime, which is a very common use case that we see manufacturers target. We also see reducing energy consumption by 3 to 7 percent. And we're looking at improving productivity by 20 to 30 percent.

We have seen customers reducing by 30 percent unplanned downtime, which is a very common use case that we see manufacturers target. We also see reducing energy consumption by 3 to 7 percent at a very large ship manufacturer, a customer of PTC’s. And we’re generally looking at improving productivity by 20 to 30 percent.

By leveraging this technology in a meaningful way to get iterative improvements, you can then scale it across the enterprise very rapidly, and multiple use cases can become part of the solution. In these areas of opportunity, very rapidly you get that ROI.

Gardner: Do we have concrete examples to help illustrate how those general productivity benefits come about?

Joint solutions reduce manufacturing pains 

Lourens: A joint-customer between HPE and PTC focuses on manufacturing and distributing reusable and recyclable food packaging containers. The company, CuBE Packaging Solutions, targeted protective maintenance in manufacturing. Their goal is to have the equipment notify them when attention is needed. That allows them to service what they need when they need to and focus on reducing unplanned downtime.

In this particular example, there are a number of technologies that play across both of our two companies. The HPE Nimble Storage capability and HPE Synergy technology were leveraged, as well as a whole variety of HPE Aruba switches and wireless access points, along with PTC’s ThingWorx solution platform.

https://www.ptc.com/en/products/iiot/thingworx-platform

The CuBE Packaging solution ultimately was pulled together through an ecosystem partner, Callisto Integration, which we both worked with very closely. In this use case, we not only targeted the plastic molding assets that they were monitoring, but the peripheral equipment, such as cooling and air systems, that may impact their operations. The goal is to avoid anything that could pause their injection molding equipment and plants.

Gardner: Tripp, any examples of use-cases that come to your mind that illustrate the impact?

Partain: Another joint-customer that comes to mind is Texmark Chemicals in Galena Park, Texas. They are using number of HPE solutions, including HPE Edgeline, our micro-datacenter. They are also using PTC ThingWorx and a number of other solutions.

They have very large pumps critical to the operation as they move chemicals and fluids in various stages around their plant in the refining process. Being able to monitor those in real time, predict potential failures before they happen, and use a combination of live data and algorithms to predict wear and tear, allows them to determine the optimal time to make replacements and minimize downtime.

https://www.hpe.com/us/en/servers/edgeline-systems.html
Such uses cases are one of the advantages when customers come and visit our IoT Lab in Houston. From an HPE standpoint, not only do they see our joint solutions in the lab, but we can actually take them out to the Texmark location and Texmark will host and allow you them see these technologies in real-time working at their facility.

Similar as Riaan mentioned, we started at Texmark with condition monitoring and now the solutions have moved into additional use cases -- whether it’s mechanical integrity, video as a sensor, and employee-safety-related use cases.

We started with condition monitoring, proved that out, got the technology working, then took that framework -- including best-in-class hardware and software -- and continued to build and evolve on top of that to solve expanded problems. Texmark has been a great joint customer for us.

Gardner: Riaan, when organizations hear about these technologies and the opportunity for some very significant productivity benefits, when they understand that more-and-more of their organization is going to be data-driven and real-time analysis benefits could be delivered to people in their actionable context, perhaps using such things as AR, what should they be doing now to get ready?

Start small

Lourens: Over the last eight years of working with ThingWorx, I have noticed the initial trend of looking at the technology versus looking at specific use-cases that provide real business value, and of working backward from the business value.

My recommendation is to target use cases that provide quick time-to-value. Apply the technology in a way that allows you to start small, and then iterate from there, versus trying to prove your ROI based on the core technology capabilities.

Ultimately understand the business challenges and how you can grow your top line or your bottom line. Then work backward from there, starting small by looking at a plant or operations within a plant, and then apply the technology across more people. That helps create a smart connected people strategy. Apply technology in terms of the process and then relative to actual machines within that process in a way that’s relevant to use cases -- that’s going to drive some ROI.

Gardner: Tripp, what should the IT organization be newly thinking? Now, they are tasked with maintaining systems across a continuum of cloud-to-edge. They are seeing micro-datacenters at the edge; they’re doing combinations of data-driven analytics and software that leads to new interfaces such as AR.

How should the IT organization prepare itself to take on what goes into any nook and cranny in almost any manufacturing environment?

IT has to extend its reach 

Partain: It’s about doing all of that IT in places where typically IT has had a little or no involvement. In many industrial and manufacturer organizations, as we go in and start having conversations, IT really has usually stopped at the datacenter back-end. Now there’s lots of technology in the manufacturing side, too, but it has not typically involved the IT department.

One of the first steps is to get educated on the new edge technologies and how they fit into the overall architecture. They need to have the existing support frameworks and models in place that are instantly usable, but also work with the business side and frame-up the problems they are trying to solve.

https://www.hpe.com/us/en/servers/edgeline-systems.html
As Riaan mentioned, being able to say, “Hey, here are the types of technologies we in IT can apply to this that you [OT] guys haven’t necessarily looked at before. Here’s the standardization we can help bring so we don’t end up with something completely different in every factory, which runs up your overall cost to support and run.”

It’s a new world. And IT is going to have to spend much more time with the part of the business they have probably spent the least amount of time with. IT needs to get involved as early as possible in understanding what the business challenges are and getting educated on these newer IoT, AR, virtual reality (VR), and edge-based solutions. These are becoming the extension points of traditional technology and are the new ways of solving problems.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We have been discussing the rapidly evolving confluence of OT and the IoT. And we have learned how data processing, real-time analytics, and platform efficiency are all prompting new OT approaches at the very edge of manufacturing.

Please join me in thanking our guests, Riaan Lourens, Vice President of Technology in the office of the CTO at PTC. Thank you so much, Riaan.

Lourens: Thanks for having me, Dana. It’s been a pleasure.

Gardner: And we have also been joined by Tripp Partain, Chief Technology Officer of IoT Solutions at HPE. Thank you so much, Tripp.

Partain: Yes, I enjoyed it. Thank you very much.


Gardner: And a big thank you to our audience as well for joining this BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer digital transformation success story discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of Hewlett Packard Enterprise-sponsored interviews.

Thanks again for listening, please pass this along to your IT community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

 A discussion how the latest data analysis platforms bring operational technology benefits to the edge for real-time insights in manufacturing. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.

You may also be interested in:

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Ferrara Candy’s IT Modernization Journey Uses Automated Intelligence to Support Rapid Business Growth


Transcript of a discussion on how a global candy maker unlocks end-to-end process and economic efficiency through increased actionable insight and optimization of servers and storage.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer podcast series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on bringing intelligence to IT infrastructure.

Gardner
Our next IT modernization journey interview explores how a global candy maker depends on increased insight for deploying and optimizing servers and storage. We’ll now learn how Ferrara Candy Company boosts its agility as a manufacturer by expanding the use of analysis and proactive refinement in its data center operations.

Stay with us to hear about unlocking the potential for end-to-end process and economic efficiency with our guest, Stefan Floyhar, Senior Manager of IT Infrastructure at Ferrara Candy Co. in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Welcome, Stefan.

Floyhar: Thank you for having me.

Gardner: What are the major reasons Ferrara Candy took a new approach in bringing added intelligence to your servers and storage operations?

Floyhar: The driving force behind utilizing intelligence at the infrastructure level specifically was to alleviate the firefighting operations that we were constantly undergoing with the old infrastructure.

Gardner: And what sort of issues did that entail? What was the nature of the firefighting?

https://www.ferrarausa.com/
Floyhar: We were constantly addressing infrastructure-related hardware failures, firmware issues, and not having visibility into true growth factors. That included not knowing what’s happening on the backend during an outage or from a problem with performance. We had a lack of visibility into true real-time performance data and fully scalable performance data.

Gardner: There’s nothing worse than being caught up in reactive firefighting mode when you’re also trying to be innovative, re-architect, and adjust to things like mergers and growth. What were some of the business pressures that you were facing even as you were trying to keep up with that old-fashioned mode of operations?

IT meets expanded candy demands

Floyhar
Floyhar: We have undergone a significant amount of growth in the last seven years -- going from 125 virtual machines to 452, as of this morning. Those 452 virtual machines are all application-driven and application-specific. As we continued to grow, as we continued to merge and acquire other candy companies, that growth exploded exponentially.

The merger with Ferrara Pan Candy, and Farley’s and Sathers in 2012, for example, saw an initial growth explosion. More recently, in 2017 and 2018, we were acquired by Ferrero. We also acquired NestlĂ© Confections USA, which has essentially doubled the business overnight. The growth is continuing at an exponential rate.

Gardner: The old mode of IT operations just couldn’t keep up with that dynamic environment?

Floyhar: That is correct, yes.

Gardner: Ferrara Candy might not roll off the tongue for many people, but I bet they have heard a lot of your major candy brands. Could you help people understand how big and global you are as a confectionery manufacturer by letting us know some of your major brands?

Floyhar: We are the producers of Now and Later, Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, Atomic Fireballs, Bob’s Candy Canes, and Trolli Gummies, which is one of our major brands. We also recently acquired Crunch Bar, Butterfinger, 100 Grand, Laffy Taffy, and Willy Wonka brands, among others.

We produce a little over 1 million pounds of gummies per week, and we are currently utilizing 2.5 million square feet of warehousing.
Learn More About Intelligent,
Self-Managing Flash Storage
In the Data Center and Cloud
Gardner: Wow! Some of those brands bring me way back. I mean, I was eating those when I was a kid, so those are some age-old and favorite brands.

Let’s get back to the IT that supports that volume and diversity of favorite confections. What were some of the major drivers that brought you to a higher level of automation, intelligence, and therefore being able to get on top of operations rather than trying to play catch up?

https://www.ferrarausa.com/
Floyhar: We have a very lean staff of engineers. That forced us to seek the next generation of product, specifically around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We absolutely needed that because we’re growing at this exponential rate. We needed to take the focus off of infrastructure-related tasks and leverage technology to manage and operate the application stack and get it up to snuff. And so that was the major driving force for seeking AI [in our operations and management].

Gardner: And when you refer to AI you are not talking about helping your marketers better factor which candy to bring into a region. You are talking about intelligence inside of your IT operations, so AIOps, right?

Floyhar: Yes, absolutely. So things like Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) InfoSight and some of the other providers with cloud-type operations for failure metrics and growth perspectives. We needed somebody with proven metrics. Proven technology was a huge factor in product determination.

Gardner: How about storage specifically? Was that something you targeted? It seems a lot of people need to reinvent and modernize their storage and server infrastructure in tandem and coordination.

Floyhar: Storage was actually the driving factor for us. It’s what started the whole renovation of IT within Ferrara. With our older storage, we were constantly suffering bottlenecks with administrative tasks and in not having visibility into what was going on.
During that discovery process and research, HPE InfoSight really jumped off the page at us. That level of AI, the proven track record, and being able to produce data around my work loads.

Storage drove that need for change. We looked at a lot of different storage area networks (SANs) and providers, everything from HPE Nimble to Pure, VNX, Unity, Hitachi, … insert major SAN provider here. We probably did six or so months’ worth of research working with those vendors, doing proof of concepts (POCs) and looking at different products to truly determine what was the best storage solution for Ferrara.

During that discovery process, during that research, HPE InfoSight really jumped off the page at us. That level of AI, the proven track record, being able to produce data around my actual work loads. I needed real-life examples, not a sales and marketing pitch.

By having a demo and seeing that data being given that on the fly and on request was absolutely paramount in making our decision.

Gardner: And, of course, InfoSight, was a part of Nimble Storage and Nimble became acquired by HPE. Now we are even seeing InfoSight technology being distributed and integrated across HPE’s broad infrastructure offerings. Is InfoSight something that you are happy to see extended to other areas of IT infrastructure?

Floyhar: Yes, ever since we adopted the Nimble Storage solution I have been waiting for InfoSight to be adopted elsewhere. Finally it’s been added across the ProLiant series of servers. We are an HPE ProLiant DL560 shop.

I am ultra-excited to see what that level of AI brings for predictive failures monitoring, which is essentially going to alleviate any downtime. Any time we can predict a failure, it’s obviously better than being reactive, with a retroactive approach where something fails and then we have to replace it.

Gardner: Stefan, how do you consume that proactive insight? What does InfoSight bring in terms of an operations interface? Or have you crafted a new process in your operations? How have you changed your culture to accommodate such a proactive stance? As you point out, being proactive is a fairly new way of avoiding failures and degraded performance.

Proactivity improves productivity

Floyhar: A lot of things have changed with that proactivity. First, the support model, with the automatic opening and closure of tickets with HPE support. The Nimble support is absolutely fantastic. I don’t have to wait for something reactive at 2 am, and then call HPE support. The SAN does it for me; InfoSight does it for me. It automatically opens the ticket and an engineer calls me at the beginning of my workday.

No longer are we getting interrupted with those 2, 3, 4 am emergency calls because our monitoring platform has notified us that, “Hey, a disk failed or looks like it’s going to fail.” That, in turn, has led to a complete culture change within my team. It takes us away from that firefighting, the constant, reactive methodologies of maintaining traditional three-tier infrastructure and truly into leveraging AI and the support behind it.
Learn More About Intelligent,
Self-Managing Flash Storage
In the Data Center and Cloud
We are now able to turn the corner from reactive to proactive, including on applications redesign or re-work, or on tweaking performance improvements. We are taking that proactive approach with the applications themselves, which has rolled even further downhill to our end users and improved their productivity.

In the last six months, we have received significant praise for the applications performance, based on where it was three years ago compared with today. And, yes, part of that is because of the back-end upgrades in the infrastructure platform, but also because as we’ve been able to focus more on the applications administration tasks and truly making it a more pleasant experience for our end users -- less pain, less latency, just less issues.

Gardner: You are a big SAP shop, so that improvement extends across all of your operations, to your logistics and supply chain, for example. How does having a stronger sense of confidence in your IT operations give you benefits on business-level innovation?

Floyhar: As you mentioned, we are a large SAP shop. We run any number of SAP-insert-acronym-here systems. Being proactive on addressing some of the application issues has honestly caused less downtime for the applications. We have seen into the four- and five-9s (99.99-9 percent) uptime from an application availability perspective.

https://www.ferrarausa.com/

We have been able to proactively catch a number of issues, whether using HPE InfoSight or standard notifications. We have been able to proactively catch a number of issues that would have caused downtime, even as minimal as 30 minutes. But when you start talking about an operation that runs 24x7, 360 days a year, and truly depends on SAP to be the backbone, it’s the lifeblood of what we do on a business operations basis.

So 30 minutes makes all the difference on the production floor. Being able to turn that support corner has absolutely been critical in our success.

Gardner: Let’s go back to data. When it comes to having storage confidence, you can extend that confidence across your data lifecycle. It's not just storage and accommodating key mission-critical apps. You can start to modernize and gain efficiencies through backup and recovery, and to making the right cache and de-dupe decisions.

What’s it been like to extend your InfoSight-based intelligence culture into the full data lifecycle?

Sweet, simplified data backup and recovery

Floyhar: Our backup and recovery has gotten significantly less complex -- and significantly faster -- using Veeam with the storage API and Nimble snapshots. Our backup window went from about 22.5 hours a day, which was less than ideal, obviously, down to less than 30 minutes for a lot of our mission-critical systems.

We are talking about 8-10 terabytes of Microsoft Exchange data, 8-10 terabytes of SAP data -- all being backed up, full backups, in less than 60 minutes, using Veeam with the storage API. Again, it’s transformed how much time and how much effort we put into managing our backups.

Again, we have turned the corner on managing our backups on an exception-basis. So now it’s only upon failure. We have gained that much trust in the product and the back-end infrastructure.
We specifically watch for failure, and any time something comes up that's what we address as opposed to watching everything 100 percent of the time to make sure it's working.

We specifically watch for failure, and any time something comes up that’s what we address as opposed to watching everything 100 percent of the time to make sure that it’s all working. Outside of the backups, just every application has seen significant performance increases.

Gardner: Thinking about the future, a lot of organizations are experimenting more with hybrid cloud models and hybrid IT models. One of the things that holds them up from adoption is not feeling confident about having insight, clarity, and transparency across these different types of systems and architectures.

Does what HPE InfoSight and similar technologies bring to the table give you more confidence to start moving toward a hybrid model, or at least experimenting in that direction for better performance in price and economic payback?

Headed to hybrid, invested in IoT

Floyhar: Yes, absolutely, it does. We started to dabble into the cloud, and a mixed-hybrid infrastructure a few years before Nimble came into play. We now have a significantly larger cloud presence. And we were able to scale that cloud presence easily specifically because of the data. With our growth trending, all of the pieces involved with InfoSight, we were able to use that data to scale out and know what it looks like from a storage perspective on Amazon Web Services (AWS).


We started with SAP HANA out in the cloud, and now we’re utilizing some of that data on the back end. We are able to size and scale significantly better than we ever could have in the past, so it has actually opened up the door to adopting a bit more cloud architecture for our infrastructure.

Gardner: And looking to the other end from cloud, core, and data center, increasingly manufacturers like yourselves -- and in large warehouse environments like you have described -- the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming much more in demand. You can place sensors and measure things in ways we didn’t dream of before.

Even though IoT generates massive amounts of data -- and it’s even processing at the edge – have you gained confidence to take these platform technologies in that direction, out to the edge, and hope that you can gain end-to-end insights, from edge to core?

Floyhar: The executives at our company have deemed that data is a necessity. We are a very data-driven company. Manufacturers of our size are truly benefiting from IoT and that data. For us, people say “big data” or insert-common-acronym-here. People process big data, but nobody truly understands what that term means.
Learn More About Intelligent,
Self-Managing Flash Storage
In the Data Center and Cloud
With our executives, we have gone through the entire process and said, “Hey, you know what? We have actually defined what big data means to Ferrara. We are going to utilize this data to help drive leaner manufacturing processes, to help drive higher-quality products out the door every single time to achieve an industry standard of quality that quite frankly has never been met before.”

We have very lofty goals for utilizing this data to drive the manufacturing process. We are working with a very large industrial automation company to assist us in utilizing IoT, not quite edge computing yet, but we might get there in the next couple of years. Right now we are truly adopting the IoT mentality around manufacturing.

And that is, as you mentioned, a huge amount of data. But it is also a very exciting opportunity for Ferrara. We make candy, right? We are not making cars, or tanks, or very expansive computer systems. We are not doing that level of intricacy. We are just making candy.

But to be able to leverage the machine data at almost every inch of the factory floor? If we could get that and utilize it to drive end-to-end process, efficiency, and manufacturing efficiencies? It not only helps us produce a better-quality product faster, it’s also environmentally conscious, because there will be less waste, if any waste at all.

The list of wonderful things that comes out of this goes on and on. It really is an exciting opportunity. We are trying to leverage that. The intelligent back-end storage and computer systems are ultra-imperative to us for meeting those objectives.

Gardner: Any words of advice for other organizations that are not as far ahead as you are when it comes to going to all-flash and highly intelligent storage -- and then extending that intelligence into an AIOps culture? With 20/20 hindsight, for those organizations that would like to use more AIOps, who would like to get more intelligence through something like HPE InfoSight, what advice can you give them?

Floyhar: First things first -- use it. For even small organizations, all the way up to the largest of organizations, it may almost seem like, “Well, what is that data really going to be used for?” I promise, if you use it, it is greatly beneficial to your IT operations.

Historically we would constantly be fighting infrastructure-related issues -- outages, performance bottlenecks, and so on. With the AI behind HPE InfoSight, the AI makes all the difference. You don't have to fight that fight when it becomes a problem because you nip it in the bud.
If you don't have it -- get it. It’s very important. This is the future of technology. Using AI to predictively analyze all of the data -- not just from your environment -- but being able to take a conglomerate view of customer data and keep it together and use predictive analytics – that truly does allow IT organizations to turn the corner from reactive to proactive.

Historically we would constantly be fighting infrastructure-related issues -- outages, performance bottlenecks, and so on. With the AI behind HPE InfoSight, and other providers, including cloud platforms, the AI makes all the difference. You don’t have to fight that fight when it becomes a problem because you get to nip it in the bud.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We have been exploring how a global candy maker has increased its resources insights for best deploying and optimizing service and storage. We have heard how they have also moved toward an AIOps culture and had great benefits as a result in boosting their agility as a manufacturer. Ferrara Candy has also been managing growth by expanding its use of analysis and proactive refinement of its data center infrastructure.


So please join me in thanking our guest, Stefan Floyhar, Senior Manager of IT Infrastructure at Ferrara Candy Co. in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Thank you, Stefan.

Floyhar: Thank you very much, Dana.

Gardner: And a big thank you to our audience as well for joining this special BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer IT modernization interview. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of Hewlett Packard Enterprise-sponsored discussions.

Thanks again for listening. Pass this along to your IT community, if you would, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Transcript of a discussion on how a global candy maker unlocks end-to-end process and economic efficiency through increased actionable insight and optimization of servers and storage. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.

You may also be interested in: