Episode 81 – Have You Modernized Your Data Center? Don’t Procrastinate Your Company’s Digital Transformation


In a previous episode Penny talked with Intel to talk about what a modern data center should look like as part of the digital transformation. Many of you already know the benefits of modernizing your data center but, do you really know the consequences if you don’t?

In today’s episode, Penny is back with the expert of Connection and Intel to really talk about the challenges of transforming and what could happen if you wait too long.

Host: Penny Conway

Guest 1: Cameron Bulanda, Vice President Technical Sales at Connection

Guest 2: John Kuzma. Industry Technical Specialist- Intel Corporation

Key takeaways:

[1:15] Cameron introduces himself and his role at Connection.

[2:06] John Kuzma talks about his position at Intel Corporation.

[2:52] What does the evolution of the data center look like?

[5:40] What are customers thinking about when they start the digital transformation process?

[9:04] What does the conversation with a client look in regards to achieve a cohesive decision-making process and an outline of what they need to build for their future?

[10:55] Is there any hesitancy among the IT stakeholders for not making moves forward because of a lack of proper skills or resources?

[14:09] John shares stories about how Intel has been bridging the gap for customers in regards to the skills needed to begin their digital transformation.

[17:05] The work of assisting customers developing a cohesive ecosystem.

[21:40] What are the consequences for organizations that are not modernizing their data center today?

[26:06] What are the industries that could be impacted by a potential upcoming disaster?

[29:20] John talks about new technologies from Intel that will level up this normalization.

[32:45] Suggestions for companies that are on the edge and uncertain about beginning their digital transformation.

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Transcript of Episode 81 of the TechSperience Podcast

Penny Conway (00:02):

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Intel to talk about what a modern data center should look like as part of your digital transformation. Many of you know the benefits of modernizing your data center, but do you really know the pain and consequences if you don’t? I’m your host, Penny Conway, and on today’s all-new episode of Connection’s TechSperience, I’m back with the experts at Connection and Intel to really talk about the challenges of transforming, and what’s at stake if you wait too long.

Penny Conway (00:56):

Cameron and John, welcome to the podcast.

John Kuzma (00:59):

Hi Penny.

Cameron Bulanda (00:59):

Hello, Penny.

Penny Conway (01:00):

It’s good to have you both here. And you are newbies to the podcast today, so why don’t we take a moment to do some introductions of yourself, your background, and what brings you to the podcast. Cameron, we’ll start with you.

Cameron Bulanda (01:14):

Thank you, Penny. And thanks for spending time with us today. My name is Cameron Bulanda, and I lead the Technical Sales Organization here over at Connection. I’ve been in the industry way too long to talk about, but going back to the mainframe days and over all of those years have been myopically focused on solving our science challenges within the data center. I’ve always been up there in the high-end part of the business, and I put a team together of subject matter experts here at Connection to augment the already fantastic team that’s supporting our sales organization around these complex technologies and solutions.

Penny Conway (01:49):

Excellent. Well, we’re excited to have you here today and to get some of your expert opinions for that time you’ve been in the field—even though you don’t want to share how long with us. Looking forward to the conversation today. John, welcome, and why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?

John Kuzma (02:04):

Thanks, Penny. Thanks for having me as well. John Kuzma, I’m an industry technical specialist. I’m part of the Channel Skill Partner Team at Intel, been at Intel for 20 years. And my background, I did a little bit of mainframe in my background, but most of my focus has been on the current data center and really focusing on driving new technologies for our customers.

Penny Conway (02:26):

As I mentioned, we’ve had this conversation about what the IT modernization is, digital transformation. They’re kind of those buzzwords that are out there that CIOs, and CTOs, CSOs—they all kind of hear them and know them. Let’s kind of set the foundation for the conversation today. And this might be where both of your experience around mainframes come into play a little bit. What has the evolution of the data center looked like? And what role does the data center transformation play into this larger picture of the digital transformation? So, Cameron, John, whoever wants to tackle this one first, I’d love to get both of your sort of insights based on the years of experience you have.

Cameron Bulanda (03:11):

Thanks, Penny. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been around for a long time—back to the mainframe as my starting point. But over those years we’ve moved from mainframe to client server computing, to now the more application centric focus that we have today. And while in the beginning, data centers used to be about folks getting a bunch of servers and some storage and stacking them up and calling it Thor, and walking into the data center to show off what that hardware was, and it was really, that was how many IOPS, “how much memory can we put in here to drive performance?” Now we’re having conversations around the application. What is the workload? Let’s not have a vendor conversation or a logo conversation until it’s appropriate to do that. Let’s figure out were these workloads before. A lot of them do belong on prem for reasons we may talk about here, including security, compliance, performance—whatever that might be.

Cameron Bulanda (04:02):

But we’re working more and more with our clients migrating those workloads into the cloud, where it makes sense, either a Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service. So meeting with our clients and understanding their computing environment today, what is that three-, four-, five-year North Star that they’re moving toward? And how do we work with their existing organization to understand their technology, understand their process, and understand the skillset to put together the best possible, most effective solution for them, that not only addresses their needs today but are going to help them grow into the future?

Cameron Bulanda (04:37):

There’s a lot of things that go into that, and yes, we speed and feed it and geek it up at some point. But this is really trying to understand what’s important to the client. How are they managing those applications, how are they serving up these services, how are they protecting them? And then working with the client and strategic partners—like Intel—to put that best possible scenario together for them. Which includes on-prem computing as well as in the cloud.

Penny Conway (05:01):

So when you’re working with customers today, and it’s an excellent point, what do you want to do three, four year from now, what does your business look like, how do you want to be operational? What is, that seems like a lot. There’s a lot that goes into it, there’s a lot of analyzing what’s going on in the current environment, there’s a lot of benchmarking, and really what it comes down to figuring out what the three-, four-, five-, 10-year plan looks like, where they’re trying to figure out those things. Is the idea of what we’re going to do in the data center, and how we’re going to get it done and all of the intricacies of it—is that challenging for a customer? What are they thinking about when they even start that process? Is it something that seems like they’re going to drown in work? It’s too much for now, and they just keep putting it off, and sometimes it’s easier to just put things off than to actually start it. What’s that conversation look like with a customer? What pain are they sort of feeling before they make that decision to move forward?

Cameron Bulanda (06:07):

Well, great question, Penny, and I look forward to John’s commentary from the Intel perspective. But in a lot of cases we’ve found that the technology is the easiest part. The struggle, if you want to call it that, is getting the folks within the client environment to not only collaborate together and work in concert with each other, but ultimately one of the biggest things is the personal. Hey, this is my job, this is what I do today and what you’re talking about is creating a more digital environment where the process that I used to wake up and own every day is now being handled within an infrastructure. This isn’t about job elimination, this is about giving that person, that teammate within the client environment the time and the cycles back to do things that are more strategic.

Cameron Bulanda (06:50):

So once we get past that personal barrier, then the big part is help navigating that organization, getting all of the constituents to weigh in on the important things as you’re talking about their applications and their lifeblood, seeking out the people that need to be at the table, right? Penny, in the past, procurement’s a critical component of the conversation and getting things done. IT plays a critical component in not only keeping the lights on but introducing new technologies to support the business. But what we’re finding is the biggest part of those budgets, the biggest part of the decision making, is now sitting within the marketing department. They’re the ones that have the funds to invest in technology. IT has to make it work, they have to manage it, they have to secure it. But we need to have those conversations with the folks to understand what they’re trying to do to digitize their environment, and then work with the rest of the constituents to try to make that happen.

Cameron Bulanda (07:39):

So there’s a lot of peace keeping, there’s a lot of navigation, there’s a lot of scar tissue that you’re trying to share with them from clients in similar situations to help them understand there are clients in similar situations, they have solved these issues, let’s stop kicking the can down the road, let’s measure twice, cut once. Because even more today’s environment and the rush to remote computing, there were projects and pent up demand to transform data centers and infrastructure. I would guess even heightened now because clients aren’t going back, per se, right?

Penny Conway (08:11):


Cameron Bulanda (08:12):

They’re not going back to property, certainly. But they’re not going back to the old way of doing things. So, if you don’t transform, it’s going to be awfully difficult for you to keep up and manage too all of the changes that are coming to their environment from an end-user perspective.

Penny Conway (08:27):

You say so much there, Cameron. John, I want to kind of, because I think you’re really on the front lines with a lot of customers that are bringing this solution together, and would love to get your thoughts, and also tap into Cameron. What you talk about the other stakeholders involved, IT has evolved across all departments in an organization now, and I think that that’s been a real struggle as you try to change things because your change agents are usually not sitting within your IT department, like you said. John, what do those conversations look like with a customer, of trying to wrangle the cats, bring them all together to have a cohesive decision making process, and an outline of what they need to build for their future goals and outcomes?

John Kuzma (09:16):

Yeah, thanks, Penny. I think the idea is that we focus our discussions more with the business units, with the application owners. Now really IT is really just a services organization to the applications. And we see, as we start looking at understanding: what are some of the business outcomes they’re trying to achieve from their applications, what are some of the key pain points they’re trying to resolve? You’re coming in from a different perspective, you’re not coming in from a speeds and feeds and a technology perspective, that’s been already abstracted out, out of the actual environment. If you have a software defined data center, like you mentioned, or if you have a hyper-converged data center, that’s already agile, that’s already scalable, that’s getting the performance you need. Now you’re talking about what do you put on top of it. And how do you optimize those applications, how do you make them cloud aware? If that’s something you’re looking at doing. How do you make yourself ready for any sort of environmental disruptions that’s happened recently? Do you have the business continuity, business resilience to be able to survive during a pandemic?

John Kuzma (10:20):

So all of those things are more and more being thought of now as we start looking at what do you need to do today, what do you need to do to build a future, as you start migrating applications, or looking at applications that typically have been a legacy application. And now you need to look at how do you dis-aggregate that from what they were doing beforehand and modernize it.

Penny Conway (10:40):

So modernization obviously comes with a new set of skills. Cameron, I think you said it great, once you get past that guy or girl that’s like, “I’ve been waking up every single day and I’ve been doing it this way. I’ve been managing our data this way,” do you see hesitancy among the IT stakeholders of not making moves forward because they don’t have the appropriate skills to do so, they don’t have skills in and of themselves but also in the resources that support them and the existing data center infrastructure? What does the skills gap look like across the customer landscape today, and what is going to be required to sort of move them into this comfortable space of modernizing their data center?

Cameron Bulanda (11:26):

So I’ll go first. So as we just talked about, there are different business units and folks that are now sitting around the table that perhaps weren’t part of the earlier conversations. But in the past, you had a storage person, and you had someone who did compute, you had someone to do networking, and helping orchestrate and getting all those three groups kind of on the same page was paramount to the role. Right? The 16, 18 week living, breathing thing that is the sales cycle and a data center project requires getting folks to, as I mentioned earlier, work in concert with each other.

Cameron Bulanda (11:56):

So when we’re talking with the storage person, or the compute person, and rather than carving up ones all the time or doing things that they’re very comfortable with, they’ve needed to evolve into a more virtualized environment. While there are still storage solutions and compute solutions and network solutions, they’re also hand in glove now, right? So interdependent that even a project that requires the addition of 37 more servers, you better understand the implications to your storage environment. What does that do to your backup? How does that affect your licensing? What about the stuff that’s in the cloud? And the more that these folks, we can help them understand that rounding out those skills, not only continue their jobs, that’s again, paramount, they want to make sure that they’ve got something to do every day, helping them understand where this is going. And doing data center symposiums and podcasts and webinars, we’re hopefully helping them understand this is what we’re seeing, this is where we see our clients evolve. We’re a three-billion-dollar-plus organization ourselves, and we are transforming over time as well.

Cameron Bulanda (13:01):

So it’s just helping them understand what is out there, that it is possible. Hooking them up with the right subject matter experts, that’s something we try to do very, very quickly, is introduce them to somebody who may have been the storage person but is now managing the entire environment because the client moved down a hyper-converged path or the private cloud path. And all of those skillsets are now kind of slathered in together. We just continue to provide that guidance to our clients, and then for those who are interested, we actually help them out on that journey, either via partner training, or working with them ourselves to get to that skillset.

Cameron Bulanda (13:36):

The last comment I’ll make here is for those clients who can’t evolve, don’t have the fiscal capabilities, or the folks, we have managed services that can do that on their behalf. And again, that gets back to the very interesting conversation around “oh, wait, that’s my job.” But again, what we’re trying to do is take the work that makes more sense for somebody else to do to, free up, and give everybody three or four hours back in a day to do the strategic things.

Penny Conway (14:01):

Right. John, in your experience, and I don’t know if you have any stories that you can share with us around how Intel was really able to maybe bridge that gap from a skills point of view, where you have those traditional roles in managing a traditional data center and you’ve needed to migrate them into this new skillset. What have you seen working with customers over the past 20 years or so as they’ve transformed in every form?

John Kuzma (14:28):

Yeah, Penny, I for one too have transformed the way I’ve looked at the IT industry. But yeah, we’ve worked with many customers, we’ve tried to understand where are the key gaps that they’re going to be seeing as you move forward. They understand that, as Cameron mentioned, you don’t want these silos anymore, you don’t want the storage, networking, compute silos. You want to be able to merge that together. So, therefore your skillset is really more about automating that environment. How do you manage it, how do you create a self-service environment for your business units and for your customers? So just be able to adapt, and be able to change the dynamics, and what you need to be focusing on I think is really critical. And for those people that resist, I think there’s always opportunity to move into different other areas, but I think there’s always new skillsets that need to be adapted as you start moving forward. We see that a lot today with some of the applications, development as well. Where it’s more of an agile development. DevOps scenario where you can actually develop stuff fairly quickly. And that’s completely rejuvenated the whole environment as well.

John Kuzma (15:39):

So I think there’s a whole bunch of areas that customers, whether it’s their development environment that needs to have—they have to merge that with IT now as well—so they have an IT ops environment and be able to manage that whole environment together.

Penny Conway (15:54):

So, with the cloud has grown exponentially over the past decade. I can’t even believe how much it’s grown. And applications are everywhere. And I know that if I need something to do my job, I can do a quick Google search and find some type of service or solution that is going to get my problem resolved. And of course I don’t sit in an IT department rolling out IT for an entire company. And I’ve heard from CIOs, CTOs, that they have these other departments that you’ve both talked about that are stakeholders and that have data and that have budget, are going out and procuring solutions on their own. That is going to fit their need and they’re sometimes bypassing IT and then handing them a plate saying, “Here, I need you to manage this and just make it work because I’ve already done all the pre-work. I’ve already named the solution that I want.” How would you suggest IT sort of get at the forefront of those conversations to manage and develop a more cohesive ecosystem, where you don’t have maybe multiple platforms, or multiple hardware solutions coming in? What would your guidance be for someone listening right now that kind of feels like they’ve lost control a little bit—that the Wild Wild West is out there—and now they need to rein in back in, and bring more control to the environment?

Cameron Bulanda (17:24):

Well, I’ll start off. We certainly have been for the longest time, back to one of our other ecosystem system partners, VMware, that there is sprawl that’s going on out there that doesn’t even have to do anything with going out to the cloud. Just all of the sudden it was very easy to spin things up. Someone would spin up a virtualized environment, they’d use it, and then not spin it back down and just start consuming resources and things of that nature. Same thing happening on the cloud side, that separate spin that was going on out there was really and still continues to be a detriment to the IT folks.

Cameron Bulanda (17:53):

So what we try to do is meet with those IT folks and help them understand, right, if 0.66 cents of every dollar is currently keeping the lights on, that’s the cost of doing business today the same way. What could we do together to provide them a solution and help them deliver that back to the end user that might take that from 0.66 cents down to 0.55? Let’s give them money back to bring the bottom line which is always nice for clients nowadays. But more importantly, let’s get that money back so they could fund the projects that have perhaps been stalled for other reasons, fiscal reasons, or what have you.

Cameron Bulanda (18:25):

And the conversation that we’re trying to have nowadays is let’s put the end-user experience in the middle of the slide now. We used to have the data center in the middle and we’d have all these spokes coming off there. Let’s talk about the end-user experience. What do we need to do to give them time back to turn data into information and information into knowledge? And let’s jack that down to their smartphones and their laptops so they can react in a more efficient manner. And what that design now comes to is okay, for these four or five things, we don’t need to cut checks on prem anymore, that’s Software as a Service, let’s go out there. You need to get your marketing information. We’re going to get that from our internal systems and Marketos on top of it—or whatever else is on there. But let’s look at it from the end-user experience out, and the cloud absolutely plays a role there. Let’s show the client how they can manage those expenses, how IT can still be in control—and I have my fingers up in quote marks right now—to try to stop that benign spend that’s going out on the side that they’re not even worried about. Because more often than not, when people are pulling out their credit card, it’s been our experience it’s because of speed.

Penny Conway (19:32):


Cameron Bulanda (19:32):

My organization takes two weeks to give me an instance. I need it in two hours. So we work with them to give them that capability, which still might include the cloud, but at least their arms are around it as opposed to the end user driving it.

John Kuzma (19:45):

Yeah. And Penny, I would add to that, most companies today as you start to transform into this software cloud environment, you need an office of the project manager. So, you need to be able to manage all your projects, and then make sure that everybody has a seat at the table—including the folks that are developing your infrastructure solutions as well. So as you start planning your years out, and you start developing all these different solutions that are coming in, or different requirements we get from different application owners, or business units, now you can start to consolidate all those requirements, look at some of the, what you have out there today to support it, and work with those application owners to develop the right types of solutions with them. Not them doing to a software vendor and saying, “Here’s what you need to buy,” it’s more like, “Here’s what we have, will that meet the requirements of your applications?” And making sure that all the SLAs are being met, your environments, you can develop your environment the way you want it to be developed.

John Kuzma (20:41):

And I think that’s critical as you start moving into this more of a collaborative type of effort with different organizations within a company, versus more of an IT driving the infrastructure and everybody, and hopefully somebody’s going to come use it afterwards.

Penny Conway (20:58):

Right, right. So with all of those outside-in, within-your-organization decisions being made, Cameron, you mentioned that speed is a huge factor because the speed of I think competition when we’re talking client, we’re talking customer, we’re talking about their transformation, but there’s another side of this. And I’m assuming it’s the reason many of our customers and clients are doing this. It’s so that they can become competitive. It’s so that they can offer a service, so they can support their clients. And I kind of want to ask you, we talk about how to do it, we talk about the benefits of doing it. But, what is the consequence for an organization—whether it’s in the private or public sector—if they don’t really take this into consideration, they don’t make those changes to understand what skills they need to do, what services they might need to implement? What is at stake for them and their business moving forward if they don’t look to modernize their data center today?

Cameron Bulanda (22:03):

Well, Penny, I could speak from first person perspective. Our current situation that we’re in today, my wife and I were living in downtown Chicago, and we literally saw businesses shut down around us who just weren’t even prepared to deliver food via Grub Hub, or Uber Eats, or whatever you have. We’ve all heard the taxi and Uber scenarios in the past to use as an example, it just…

Penny Conway (22:24):


Cameron Bulanda (22:24):

…continues today, right? Restaurants and boutiques and stores that have been open for 60 years in Chicago are no longer open because they could not move fast enough to providing that remote experience. And I know that’s a base level example, but it’s happening in real time, and you don’t have to be a restaurant or a boutique to suffer those consequences. If you don’t transform, it’s going to be very difficult to execute. Even me, I’ll get on Amazon and if it takes three seconds for a screen to come up, I’m out. That’s the kind of culture or environment many of us are in today.

Cameron Bulanda (22:55):

So, speed is of the essence, security, all those other things we’ve talked about. But I’m a little hesitant to bring up this fact because I don’t know it exactly, but there is a lot of figures out there from Gartner and the other pundits that say “X amount of global 100 companies may not be around in a year or two…

Penny Conway (23:11):


Cameron Bulanda (23:11):

… because they aren’t transforming.” Hard to translate that down to the 2,000 or 1,000 seat and under, but I think it’s even heightened at that level. That if you don’t move and you don’t move quickly, you are exposed. And we’re working with our clients today, doing those assessments, helping them understand their workloads and their interdependencies, and giving them the information that they either need to make the decision, or to start the conversation that might be a year tardy.

John Kuzma (23:37):

Yeah. And Penny, I’ll give you an example. At Intel, we’re 110,000 seats of remote users in our company. Before the pandemic, we probably had about 25,000 folks that were accessing remotely. And now we went to 100,000 folks. So, if we weren’t fast enough to move over, which took us probably, I think it was about two weeks to transition the whole environment over to a remote environment. And that took the ability to be able to make sure you had software solutions out there that you can access without VPN, because you might not be able to support 100 VPN connections, or 100,000 VPN connections.

John Kuzma (24:13):

So all of that planning was already done going back to 2003 when SARS came out. So when that came out, we started seeing we need to start building in some more resilience for this type of potential recurrence of a pandemic. And at that point we were planning for 50% stay at home type of folks.

Penny Conway (24:33):


John Kuzma (24:34):

But we actually re-architected our environments fairly quickly and were able to get everybody remote access. We could with or without VPNs now because we have the ability to, with Microsoft Azure, to be able to do stuff like that. So, it’s really, if we weren’t fast enough or quick enough to do that, we could be one of those top 100 companies that isn’t around anymore. So, it’s very critical to be swift, even though we’re a large company, still be agile in moving across.

Penny Conway (25:02):

That’s an excellent point. I was reading an article from DataCenterKnowledge.com, and it was an article from January 19th, I believe, where they were sort of saying the top 10 things that you need to ask yourself when it comes to managing your data center and evaluating your data center. And reading it now in September of 2020, the last item that you needed to think about, number 10, was a business resiliency or disaster planning, disaster recovery. And I think that now that is probably number one for many people as they’re still trying to recover from a disaster. But I’m wondering, do you both think, personal opinion here, there’s going to be a number of customers that don’t—even with a pandemic—aren’t going to see the urgency, or aren’t going have the urgency of disaster planning, and business continuity. What industries do you think would be most impacted by potentially another disaster that maybe won’t make it through another round of this, if they’re not really fully set up to flip a switch and support through a modern data center model?

Cameron Bulanda (26:21):

Penny, you said it there, right. I think very important words you used there. We used to design data centers, and there are still data centers stood up today that are designed to never go down. The thought was let’s go in there and make sure it’s bulletproof. We’ve got to think differently, we’ve got to think…

Penny Conway (26:35):


Cameron Bulanda (26:35):

“This thing is going down.”

Penny Conway (26:37):


Cameron Bulanda (26:37):

“Or might be removed altogether.” So how do we design and engineer for resiliency? Create that big easy button that we saw on the Staples commercial, that whenever they want to maintenance, platform shift, another COVID thing, they could hit a button and transform almost in real time. That’s, again, the conversations that we’re having with our clients today and helping them understand how critical it is. And the healthcare, telehealth is going to be huge for us. And those organizations that haven’t woke up and taken a look at what’s going on around them, and aren’t, forget about talking about it, they’re not in heavy planning stages about how…

Penny Conway (27:13):


Cameron Bulanda (27:13):

…they’re going to deliver that remotely. That’s going to be an industry that’s going to be leveraging the infrastructure and security very, very heavily. We could talk about the hospitality folks, they’ve got a little bit of a challenge in that they can’t bring people in. But we’re seeing a lot of infrastructure challenges there that they need to change. You’re not going to check in with a person anymore. You want to do it on your phone, you want to walk into the hotel, you want to put your phone next to the lock, and you’re in the room. That’s what all of these folks need to go to. Now is Hilton going to go out of business because they don’t do that, no. But those are the kind of things that folks need to be thinking about. Those are the kind of projects we’re talking to our clients about. And I know that there’s many, many other examples I’m sure John’s going to share.

John Kuzma (27:53):

Yeah, and I think just to add onto the healthcare is Digication, obviously, with the online learning and training.

Penny Conway (28:00):


John Kuzma (28:00):

A lot of, they keep on moving back and forth, whether or not they could have a hybrid solution out there today, whether or not you want an all in-person class, or whether it’s virtual. So I think that alone says you better be flexible. You better have the tools with all your students, your teachers, the ability to be able to teach whether it’s in class or virtually. So some of those educational systems obviously have to be able to support that. And if they don’t, then somebody else is going to take their business away from them. I mean, basically at the end of the day it’s whatever they can, if they’re not fast enough to do that, they’re going to end up losing the business to somebody else.

Penny Conway (28:37):

Yeah. I think what both of you said is spot on. We’re in the phase of disaster recovery.

John Kuzma (28:43):


Penny Conway (28:43):

Where, if you’re not already planning for it now, you’re not already in that process, it potentially could be too late. And you will be one of those companies that doesn’t come out on the other side if you’re unable to pivot.

Penny Conway (28:56):

I want to kind of start bringing us to a close a little bit, and we’ve talked a lot about the pain, what’s at stake, what really modernization looks like. I’d like to understand just a little bit, and I think Cameron, this plays very well with what you opened with, the logo, the technology, the hardware, that sort of all comes last once you’ve built that solution. So John, what new technologies has really Intel brought into this space that is going to level up this modernization, and really transform what customers are doing today within their data center?

John Kuzma (29:31):

Thanks, Penny. Yeah, I absolutely, so we’ve, aside from our, what people know Intel being for is our CPUs—and we should have generations coming out later on this year and everything next year. But for the underlying technologies that we see are more revolutionary are some of our Intel® Optanepersistent Memory and Intel® Optane™ SSD Technologies.The SSD technologies have been out for a few years now. A lot of the hyper-converged players out there. Cisco, Dell, HP—all the big players that have hyper converged solutions today—they use our underlying Intel® Optane™ SSDs. And what that provides you is really that comfort level where you don’t really care what’s running on top of it because the technology is so state of the art that it could support whatever you throw at it—whether it’s an online critical application like SAP or Oracle, or whether it’s just a VDI solution, it could be different types of workloads. The underlying technologies are able to abstract that and keep your performance, your response time, your endurance all together.

John Kuzma (30:36):

The persistent memory component, which is probably about a year old now, that’s actually starting to pick up a lot more traction in the virtualization space, be able to save customers money in consolidation. And then there’s a lot of database analytics, and some of the requirements from some of these larger software companies that require data closer to the CPU. And what this provides you is larger footprint of data, you could actually put it into the memory part of a system.

John Kuzma (31:03):

So we find that we’re playing in all of the key areas, the networking part obviously that keeps on evolving as we move forward with the higher speed networking and Internet cards themselves. And we’re providing this not only to the ISVs, to the hyper-converged solution providers, but also to cloud service providers. Because they’re also growing even more rapidly than the rest of the industry.

John Kuzma (31:24):

So we’re really trying to provide them that, not a level of comfort—because you’re never going to be comfortable. But at least a level of knowledge that you’re going to get very stabilized performance results when you’re actually using some of our technology.

Cameron Bulanda (31:39):

Yeah, and I’ll pile on there, John, one other piece that we’re talking to our clients about big time from the Intel perspective is that Silicon Level Root of Trust, right, security’s paramount in all of these conversations. And when you talk about some of those partners earlier, that ecosystem, that’s why Intel is so strategic to Connection, to my team in particular, because we know that by investing in the relationships and understanding all of these things that we’ve talked about over the past 20 or 25 minutes, plays in every other aspect. When we’re with HPE, when we’re with Dell, or others.

Penny Conway (32:11):


Cameron Bulanda (32:11):

And that’s a critical component to all of this is the trust there. And then so when you start putting, say, Intel and what they have out with HPE Gen 10 servers, you’re talking about a darn near bulletproof secure compute platform that our clients can rely on. And when you have names like Intel and HPE behind it with Connection’s arms around it, it’s a great conversation to have.

Penny Conway (32:34):

Excellent. So as we look to close out here, what someone listening today—I think I asked you both earlier a form of this question. But what would be your closing thoughts to someone who is, no pun intended, but on the edge here of “I don’t know if I can financially swing a transformation like this,” or “I don’t know if I have the resources available to even start”? John, what would your guidance be to someone to just start getting this off the ground, so they don’t end up as a statistic of someone who didn’t make it through the next disaster?

John Kuzma (33:11):

Yeah, I would obviously point them to partners like Connection. So you guys have the resources, you have the experience out there. Companies that don’t have the acumen to understand what it takes to be able to survive in this environment, what you need to be doing, Connection would be someone that can actually, has done this for other customers, they have the experience—they might have battle scars as well doing it as well with some customers—but they’ve seen everything. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work. And they can lead their customer down the right path.

John Kuzma (33:41):

So and the scaling of what Connection can do with their customers is really critical. Intel can provide guidance from a strategy perspective. We always talk to customers, we always talk to our partners on what we’re doing. We always eat our own dog food as well, so we’ve basically learned from our mistakes, and we can share a lot of those insights with a lot of your customers as well. So I say don’t be afraid. What you’re probably thinking of doing has probably been done out there already. But just if you’re not sure, just reach out to a trusted partner that can help you out.

Cameron Bulanda (34:16):

Thanks, John, that’s very nice of you, and we do, we try to help clients understand, let’s take a breath, there are folks in similar situations. We can connect you directly, but let’s share with you some of the things that we’re doing to help them through whatever knot holes that they’re in today. Let’s do it in a way that shows them options, that also leads to hey, if this is a piece of the business that is easier outsourced so that you could focus on those things, I know that’s a common thing that I’ve been providing. But really help the clients understand that we have been there, we’ve done that, we’ve got the t-shirt, we’ll connect you with clients that have similar situations.

Cameron Bulanda (34:48):

And as it relates to another challenge that we haven’t really spent a lot of time with, I mentioned technologies earlier, it’s how you get it through the fiscal process and understanding that. So being able to help them feel comfortable with an on-prem, a hyper-converged, a hybrid solution out to the cloud, but give them consumption kind of economics. So in the past they immediately think I’m going to stroke a check here for three million dollars. No, no, no, no.

Penny Conway (35:13):


Cameron Bulanda (35:13):

There are now ways for us to give you what you need today with 30% growth, and you write a check just like you offer your power and your water and everything else and it’s all taken care of. So helping them understand that you’re not alone, here are some examples, and here are some solutions, have gone a long way in helping us have better dialogue with our clients.

Penny Conway (35:32):

Excellent. I think a couple of great nuggets in there is call the professionals, use their help to put together a plan. And Cameron, you’re right, we didn’t cover the financial parts of this, but being able to put these expenses in more of that operating category versus a capital category I think that we could have a whole other episode on that, and have talked about it on previous episodes as well.

Penny Conway (35:53):

I appreciate both of your expertise on this topic. Definitely a challenging situation that many companies are in right now. But I think there are solutions that can get them to the other side that can allow them to pivot, and allow them to have that continued growth. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and your experience on really what’s at stake for a customer if they don’t look to make these sort of changes by modernizing their data center. So I appreciate both of the time and expertise that you gave me today.

Penny Conway (36:25):

And for those of you out there listening, on whatever platform you are listening to our podcast on today, please be sure to like, share, and follow so you can get the latest episodes as they’re released. And for more information on today’s topic, you can visit us at www.connection.com, or email us at Podcast@Connection.com.

Penny Conway (36:49):

Cameron, John, thank you so much for joining the podcast today.

John Kuzma (36:53):

Thank you, Penny.

Cameron Bulanda (36:54):

Thank you, Penny.

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