Hybrid Cloud Trends Across Europe

In this Tech Barometer podcast segment, learn how personal relations are critical to bringing new enterprise cloud technologies to diverse nations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

By Jason Lopez

By Jason Lopez April 23, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe in March 2020, travel halted. Sammy Zoghlami quickly adjusted two things.

“I upgraded my video conferencing equipment and increased the number of phone and video calls I make, instead of relying on email,” he said. 

“I’m focusing even more than usual on how I can help, regardless if there’s business or not out of it. That’s what makes a true partnership. It’s always during tough times that you realize who’s reliable and who truly cares about you.”

Zoghlami is Nutanix’s Paris-based senior vice president of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa). In a Tech Barometer podcast interview recorded in .NEXT 2019 in Copenhagen, he explained why prefers to meet people in person when possible and how the hunger for hybrid cloud technologies is growing.

When Zoghlami became SVP in 2019, he spent six months traveling to meet customers and employees in geographies as diverse as Amsterdam; Abu Dhabi, Barcelona; Berlin; Brussels; Copenhagen; Dubai; London; Madrid; Milan, and Munich.

“It seems impossible to manage operations across such a vast, diverse region, but really it comes down to people,” he said. 

“It’s about listening, understanding and building trust. Deals rarely get done without demonstrating altruism and genuine intent to add value.”


Cultivating Private and Hybrid Cloud Across Europe, Middle East and Africa

Zoghlami said many companies that considered building a private cloud in recent years suddenly rushed to the public cloud, but unforeseen costs and complexities are bringing them back.

“Private cloud is sexy again,” he said. “People see hybrid cloud as a viable future, but we are just approaching the middle of the bell curve in terms of awareness and adoption.”

Transcript (unedited):

Ken Kaplan: Europe, the Middle East and Africa — known as EMEA — is made up of multiple time zones, languages, and cultures. For anyone doing sales and marketing in the region, it’s a place of rich diversity as well as challenges. Sammy Zoghlami, senior VP for Nutanix in EMEA, is based in Paris but spends a lot of time in planes and on the road covering this vast geography. I’m Ken Kaplan for the Tech Barometer podcast, and I spoke with Sammy last fall about his role and the places he’s been doing business.

Sammy Zoghlami: So far I've been discovering the culture in South Europe. But if we take a big country like Germany, it doesn't matter what your title is, it matters what your knowledge is. In the UK and France is maybe a bit different where there's a little bit more requirement to see the boss at some time in the sales cycle. And the title is more important. So that's one of the differences. So I think you find situations wherein appearance it's very formal, like in the Middle East for example, you have to wear a tie. Everyone is always in a suit, you know, it’s very formal in the way that you dress, where in reality people care about the trust, the respect, and they can take a verbal commitment for a strong commitment, and not necessarily a contract. As, you know, a difference with all the countries I'm used to where it’s maybe a more laid back in terms of how you talk to people, how you interact, how you dress. But then the only thing that matters is the contract. There are some countries where we are just entering the market, countries like Poland, countries like the Czech Republic. Portugal is just launching. Nigeria is launching. So we have many countries like that that we are just launching from scratch. And it's interesting to be in that position where the brand in most cases is not known yet. The network of partners is not built the awareness. So for us, it was a matter of when we enter those countries. We've grown very fast in EMEA. We are now in 35 countries but we are not done yet.

Ken Kaplan: All right. Describe from a few years ago to what you feel now is going on.

Sammy Zoghlami: So I would say EMEA, in general, is a bit late compared to the US in terms of public cloud adoption. The UK is a bit advanced from the rest of the countries where it's coming from, especially with large and international companies. And they start to learn the beauty of public cloud and the downside of public cloud. There's always good and bad. So I think as the companies in the countries mature on that proposition, what we have been cooking for them, which is a good middle ground between “we will help you accelerate the move to public cloud,” but “we will help you make on-prem infrastructure look as close as possible to public cloud.” 

Ken Kaplan: Describe some of the trends regarding the technology that you're bringing to market.

Sammy Zoghlami: So I, I see several trends. I see legacy companies who've been there for a hundred years who are trying to become you know, cutting edge in terms of their market positioning, and a lot of it comes down to how they use technology. Their struggle is to become appealing to great technologists. So they're doing all the branding necessary to attract different kinds of talent. They also need to transform their people. So that's the biggest headache of CIOs I see right now in EMEA. Now you have the other kind which are the new companies who are very fast, launching services. They don't have any legacy infrastructure to be slow. They just struggle a little bit on funding. Apart from that, you know, those are the new startups that we see on the markets. And I see more and more European startups coming to a certain size, which is, you know, either company that will move to Silicon Valley, or are getting funded by governments. Because I see also governments being much more aware of the urgency to fund those startups and to make sure that all those great companies stay in Europe. We came to market in 2013 when a lot of companies have tried to put together the private cloud. This was a very complex project for many companies. A lot of them have failed, but they were always looking for automation. Now you fast forward a few years later, which is today, you see in Europe a lot of companies adopting the public cloud because the whole automation is done for them and we can accelerate their business by consuming it. So I think our messaging and our positioning is today even more relevant than when we entered the market. The hybrid cloud requests from customers are really new. They went from private to, “I want to do everything in the public cloud” and now realize they will long-term be a hybrid organization. So this is a fairly new trend in Europe. If we compare it to the U.S., which has been on that trend for a while.

Ken Kaplan: Many in Europe started private, didn't do very well. They spent a lot of attention on public. So tell me what brought them back to private.

Sammy Zoghlami: So you have companies who tried to do it themselves, like the big cloud providers, but without necessarily the scale and the skills that those public cloud providers had. So you saw a lot of open stack and open source initiatives that were attempted and then failed. You have the other kind of initiatives that were based on enterprise products. Companies put together a lot of components to try and build those private clouds. But this was very costly and a lot of professional services before building those platforms. So then public cloud became a very sexy option for most companies because it was all made for them, yeah? So they just had to consume the IT. And now that you have players like Nutanix who are offering this kind of simplicity, the whole work is done for the company, but you can also do it on-prem. Then private cloud becomes sexy again. That's the new trend. And a lot of companies who went from private cloud to look at public cloud, now they look at hybrid because they want both. And this is a perfect spot for us.

Ken Kaplan: I don’t know, maybe it had a premonition, but I thought you were going to say it was going to be sexy. Like yeah, I did have that premonition. So I'm glad that you said it. Talk to me about, you don't have to name the customer if you don't want to or you can, but what is it like to go in and they have interests but you're able to really get them, “Yeah, this is the solution that they want.”

Sammy Zoghlami: Well, I think a lot of customers who went all-in with us, went very large, take Society Generale for example, which is a large private cloud customer, they went all-in after experiencing the product. In today's world, everyone talks about simplicity, openness, multicloud. Now the difference is how we do it. How does work on a day-to-day basis, does this really work at scale? And I think most of our large customers have become large over time. So it started small on one use-case and suddenly they realize, you know, operations were better, level of availability was better, and the whole simplicity promise was there. Then they started to go all-in with Nutanix.

Ken Kaplan: Sammy Zoghlami is the senior vice president for Nutanix overseeing the EMEA region.

This is the Tech Barometer podcast from the online publication, The Forecast. Find more stories at www.theforecastbynutanix.com.

Jason Lopez is executive producer of Tech Barometer, the podcast outlet for The Forecast. He’s the founder of Connected Social Media. Previously, he was executive producer at PodTech and a reporter at NPR.

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