Samsonite has had a rich tradition of innovation since its founding in 1910, as reflected in the company's unceasing efforts to keep its ICT infrastructure up-to-date. After moving most of this infrastructure to the cloud in Belgium with the help of Inetum-Realdolmen, Samsonite enlisted the same ICT partner to optimize its cloud management.
Inetum-Realdolmen automates cloud management at Samsonite Europe
Samsonite is an originally American suitcase and luggage manufacturer, now with its European headquarters and manufacturing plant in Oudenaarde. Convinced of the many benefits of cloud technology, from increased speed to added flexibility, Samsonite moved most of its on-premises server capacity initially to rCloud, a managed cloud environment in the Inetum-Realdolmen's data center. There, experts from Inetum-Realdolmen were in charge of installation and configuration as well as support and management of all Samsonite ICT systems.
In the next step, it moved to Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud. “We already had a lot of experience with virtualizing, both in our data centers and at our remote locations. This made the move to the public cloud a lot easier,” says Guy Dedeurwaerder, Samsonite’s IT Infrastructure and Operations Manager Europe. In this role, his responsibilities include the networks and servers, as well as the luggage and bag company’s European multicloud environment.
In addition to Azure, Samsonite also uses AWS (Amazon Web Services) and OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure) for its SAP and Oracle systems, respectively. “All other business applications are run in Azure. And if we have a new application coming up, we will always check first to see if there’s an SaaS solution for it. Today, we are deliberately adopting a ‘cloud first’ strategy. If that SaaS solution is not available, we will do everything we can to run the new application in our Azure data center.”
Expertise from a specialized partner
Managing an ICT infrastructure in the cloud is a totally different discipline than managing traditional hardware in an on-premises data center. “The latter was what Inetum-Realdolmen had been doing for us for quite some time, first in our own data center, then in their rCloud. It's the same managed services with the same SLAs that we now want to get in Azure, with the benefits of the cloud on top of that. In addition to ‘classic’ managed services, such as back-up and patching, we are particularly interested in proactive services in terms of security, architecture and costs, in order to keep our cloud environment in optimal condition,” says Dedeurwaerder. It’s clear: the specificities of a public cloud require a different approach in terms of managed services. “But as Inetum-Realdolmen has already proven, it has all the expertise in-house to be able to successfully deliver those management services in the cloud.”
“That’s the expertise we expect from Inetum-Realdolmen,” Michel Vandecasteele, Director IT Europe at Samsonite, also stressed. “We don't have all that new technological knowledge internally, and we prefer not to invest in acquiring it ourselves. It is a conscious choice for us to outsource that knowledge and work with a specialized partner.”
Azure Platform Solution
What also helped win over Samsonite was the new service that Inetum-Realdolmen was launching just then: Azure Platform Solution (APS). In short, APS doesn’t just include the run, which is typical of a managed service model, but through APS, Inetum-Realdolmen is actively working on the cloud of the future. This is a true CloudOps solution where build and run come together. APS proactively focuses on cloud optimizing and automation through Site Reliability Engineering, which increases environmental reliability.
“That's how you gain efficiency and save costs,” says Dedeurwaerder. “This can also be done by eliminating unnecessary servers, for example, or by only using servers temporarily, at times when the business actually needs them. The latter applies even more to servers that you use for development purposes, which often require a lot of capacity. It’s best to have those turned off automatically outside business hours, for example, because, of course, you have to pay for all that reserved capacity.”
This allows APS to keep costs under control in a targeted way. By the same token, you can also reverse the reasoning: thanks to APS, a company gets more value for money. “We can now decide per server and even per application whether we want to run the test environment around the clock,” continues Dedeurwaerder. “And we can match our server capacity to an application’s actual use instead of its requested or expected use. It’s much easier to expand and scale down that capacity in the cloud than if you had to invest in hardware yourself.” In doing so, the APS team at Inetum-Realdolmen thinks proactively about next steps in the cloud process. The move to the cloud delivers the most benefits once a company adopts PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) components.
“Rightsizing” infrastructure also fits perfectly into the evolution from a capex to an opex pay-as-you-go model, notes Vandecasteele. “If business is good, it’s also easier to spend a little more on such a model, and vice versa. In addition to this increased flexibility, our cloud strategy also offers us a number of services and opportunities that we didn’t have in our former on-premises environment – with just one data center – in terms of disaster recovery, for example. In that sense, it’s also a convenient way to keep up with the technological evolution in the cloud, because hyperscalers like Microsoft are always continuing to invest in new technology.”
By using their cloud, Samsonite benefits from Microsoft’s investments in innovation. The most important, immediate benefit of the whole cloud story, however, remains the high degree of flexibility available to Samsonite. “The business can now respond to opportunities much faster,” says Dedeurwaerder. “Setting up new infrastructure to try something out can now be done very quickly. You no longer need to be a specialist for this."