Fujitsu proposes new balancing act for digital business success
Tatsuya Tanaka, president of Fujitsu
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Fujitsu proposes new balancing act for digital business success

Kenny MacIver — November 2015

ICT giant maps out an agenda for how organizations can rapidly embrace digital opportunities, confident that their underlying infrastructures can continue to deliver robust business services.

ICT company Fujitsu set out a new global business agenda at its annual conference in Munich 18-19 November designed to propel organizations towards new opportunities in the fast-digitalizing world while ensuring they are still tooled up to deliver solid, ‘run-the-business’ IT.

Alongside a host of new product and service introductions, the 14,000-plus audience at Fujitsu Forum 2015 saw the ¥4.8 trillion ($40bn) Japanese company showcase:
the recently announced Fujitsu Digital Business Platform MetaArc, a single digital business platform that integrates both the systems that enable customers' digital transformations and their existing information systems.
the latest in a series of acquisitions of highly-innovative cloud business software specialists
and the company’s growing commitment to open source software, especially for managing hybrid IT environments.

New dawn

Those moves all feed into a strategy for enabling customers to confidently take advantage — and deal with the disruptive forces — of the new world of digitalization. “Around the world a new era of digital business has dawned,” Fujitsu president Tatsuya Tanaka said in the opening keynote. “We will look back on these changes [as] a new industrial revolution.”

In this era, he emphasized, organizations need to be capable of reacting to change that is both rapid and unforeseen, and he cited revolutionary new services such as self-driving cars, the rise of fintech applications in the banking sector and the use of big data in preventative medicine as just a few examples.

Many of those new digital services are already making a big impact on businesses’ top lines, observes Duncan Tait, head of Fujitsu’s EMEIA region.

Duncan Tait, head of Fujitsu EMEIA
“The digital revolution is already the major source of growth and innovation today,” argued Tait. But thriving in this changing environment, he said, requires every organization, every business and every government agency to be able to successfully address the issue of ‘two-speed IT.’

“There’s no choice but to embrace digital. That’s clear, but here’s the challenge: we have spent billions on our current ICT but it isn’t necessarily what we need to ensure the future. We need to transform our organizations but we also know we can’t throw out the investments we have made to date. We need to balance risk and costs while digitalizing, without disruption to the day-to-day,” he said. “So in order to digitalize with confidence, we need to be able to balance traditional ICT and digital innovation. And that’s easier said than done.”
Digital uncertainty

Some evidence suggests that the confidence to strike that balance is not always there. Tait revealed details of a new Fujitsu survey of 600 CEOs and senior IT decision-makers focused on the way in which digitalization is being handled within their organizations. More than 70% said the majority of their digital projects are “a gamble” and only 36% said their organizations were aligned to their digital priorities.

And, perhaps surprisingly, the heads of IT don’t always appear to be the source of digital guidance. Only 25% of senior IT decision-makers interviewed said they were extremely confident about advising their businesses on the right digital choices.

The research points to several factors contributing to that uncertainty:
an inability to blend the new world of digital with legacy infrastructure
a shortage of available skills
the lack of appropriate technology partners
an inability to foresee project results and outcomes
and weaknesses in planning and defining digital projects.

Balance enabler

The central pillar in Fujitsu’s plans to help organizations create that right balance of digital and traditional IT — and so reduce the risk and uncertainty they face when embracing these new opportunities — is MetaArc. The Digital Business Platform is a unified set of cloud services, tools, processes and applications designed to integrate and orchestrate the delivery of diverse, hybrid IT workloads — new, current and legacy. That spans private and public clouds, platform services such as mobile, big data, Internet of Things and AI, managed services and third-party apps.”

“The ability to orchestrate all kinds of services is where true business advantage will be delivered.”

The MetaArc platform sits above the company’s new cloud service platform K5, with both coming on-stream for customers in Japan from December, in Europe from the first half of 2016 and elsewhere from the second half of the year.

EMEIA head Duncan Tait is in no doubt that the combination provides the company with a clear differentiator in the market: “That ability to orchestrate all kinds of services is where true business advantage will be delivered.”
Shopping for innovation

To speed customers’ access to such advantages, Fujitsu has been increasingly willing to pull in some cutting-edge technology from outside. At Fujitsu Forum the company announced the acquisition of French start-up UShareSoft whose UForge application delivery software automates the building, migration and governance of applications in multi-cloud environments.

UForge will be incorporated into the automated systems building services of the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5. The company is also making UShareSoft’s Grenoble HQ its cloud services R&D center in Europe.

The addition of UShareSoft to the Fujitsu portfolio is the latest in a series of technology acquisitions by the Japanese company. In August it bought UK-based digital ticketing provider Applied Card Technologies (ACT), bolstering its offerings for the public transport sector; last year in the US it bought RFID solutions specialist GlobeRanger; and in 2013 it snapped up RunMyProcess, a highly respected French platform-as-a-service company whose software enables the rapid creation and integration of services across disparate business domains.Passion for open source

But for other parts of its core cloud software the company is increasingly looking to leverage software developed within a wider community. And for good reason, says Dr Joseph Reger, Fujitsu CTO for EMEIA, who pointed to its fast-growing commitments to OpenStack, the five-year-old open source cloud management project.
Dr Joseph Reger, CTO, Fujitsu EMEIA

“OpenStack is the leading-edge cloud software, the result of an enormous effort in the industry — the largest, fastest-growing open source project of today,” says Reger. “While it’s still an on-going project, there is growing evidence that businesses on OpenStack change, adapt and innovate faster.”

Fujitsu has been an enthusiastic early adopter of OpenStack across numerous projects it has worked on around the globe, but in a major ramp-up of that commitment the company outlined at Fujitsu Forum how its next-generation cloud platform K5 now has OpenStack at its center.

“By using OpenStack we can support hybrid IT environments, both public and private clouds,” said Chiseki Sagawa, an SVP within the Fujitsu Service Platform Strategy & Planning Office. The company is committed to adding a string of enterprise features to the common base of OpenStack, including high-availability services between data centers, enhanced enterprise security, and support for the automatic scaling of virtual servers.”

Adding to its open source credentials, Fujitsu is also releasing its own service catalog management software as open source under the name Open Service Catalog Manager, effectively providing a ‘single pane of glass’ for managing multiple cloud environments.Confidence in cloud

The confidence it has in its new cloud platform is shown by a stated intention to migrate all of its in-house systems around the world to MetaArc and K5. That started in September with 20 systems in Japan and will continue globally over the next five years, until all 640 systems are cloud-based and managed with OpenStack.

“We use open source and contribute to open source because it creates a robust infrastructure [but also] because it lets us concentrate at the top of the stack. And it is in those upper layers we can help [customers] to innovate faster,” said Reger.

• See interviews with other Fujitsu Forum 2015 keynote speakers: Genevieve Bell, VP in Intel’s Corporate Strategy Office, and NetApp CIO Cynthia Stoddard.

First published November 2015
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