Vincent Gayrard is the Director of Information Systems and Digital at EDF Renewables. A specialist in renewable energy, the 100% subsidiary of the EDF group now has more than 4,000 employees and is experiencing strong growth. Its DSIN examines the company’s cloud options and its sector details.
This article is excerpted from the Challenges of a New World downloadable guide “Accelerating Business Transformation: Are Vertical Clouds the Future?” “.
You participated in the workshop we organized to reflect on the challenges of vertical cloud approaches. What did you learn here?
It is always very interesting to talk to counterparts to explore such topics. This is more because the different participants came from companies almost comparable in size but from different sectors. We are all CIOs who must both undertake very operational transformation topics that combine the benefits and barriers of the cloud, but also have a more global approach. Our management expects us to have a vision for the future.
On the merits, I think many of our CIOs are still confused about the form that real vertical clouds can take in their respective sectors, i.e., an end-to-end cloud that supports an activity in its entirety. The subject is still exploratory. We see that there may be important points of attention for some sectors such as health, media … but all is unclear. I am also comforted by the fact that, in general, our companies are moving towards multicloud policies; this in itself is an indicator of urgent issues for the market.
To go further: Back to the workshop “Performance, security, field barriers … Which sectors are interested in betting on vertical clouds?»
How would you summarize EDF Renewables ’IT transformation strategy and cloud strategy today?
Two years ago, I headed a very “artisanal” IT department in the noble sense of the term: there was really very strong technical expertise and a huge commitment on the part of all the teams, but at the same time, very some processes planned to anticipate scaling up. However, EDF Renouvelables is a very fast growing company, an SME that has become an ETI with 4,000 employees in a few years … So we had to implement a big renovation project, involving the redevelopment of some basic skills and a strengthening of control. IS, service quality, project management, managing a value-centric IT-business relationship … These last points also raise many additional questions, including the exact place the cloud has taken in the equation.
In this regard, I recognize the different parts of the approach. On the part of the digital workplace, we’re not looking for originality. We are fully committed to Microsoft365 to benefit from the global integration of service functionalities and the strike force of EDF’s “group contract”. On the Platform as a Service side, however, we launched our own “Renewable” lake of business data 5 years ago on AWS, offering the most comprehensive catalog of managed services at that time for long-term. industry analytics, with world coverage. Despite the problem of reversibility it causes, we assume that we have made this choice without it we would have had problems with speed of change, stability and skills … Within two years, we were building a lot of muscle in terms of FinOps to optimize it what can be done in such a cloud and it requires the presence of special talents and a good practice in the evolution of services offered by hyperscaler.
How is Infrastructure as a Service?
We chose a dedicated private cloud on OVHcloud, which is the equivalent of our “on premise”, in all geographical areas where we operate directly, specifically in Europe. Speed and agility like this allow us to see digital changes we haven’t imagined until now. There is no question of letting “opex” costs go away, however. It also requires significant FinOps effort, to better plan, prioritize, and have visibility across all operations. It is necessary to adopt a posture that prevents us from head to the cloud. This is a difference compared to one’s own datacenter, which has a large “capex” portion, which can give a pretty dangerous sense of reward. Specifically because we don’t have all the spending or re-invoicing measures implemented in large Groups. However, an IS that gives the impression of being “free” does not help in regulating demand and in arbitrate in businesses ’priorities. By paying for use, we force ourselves to control, prioritize and meditate, to change the relationship with the professions. Has an empowering effect on projects where the company grows.
What are the particularities of your sector that impact your cloud strategy?
We are less regulated and less digital than other sectors that are clouding in very fast, such as banking. EDF Renewables is largely a project developer, directly operating more industrial assets. Although we operate very modern technologies, pioneer in energy transfer, and our teams on average are too young for an industrial player, we are far from “digital native” organizations.
Overall, we feel lower digital maturity in our renewable energy sector when we look at what our competitors are doing. In summary, we know we have huge digital transformation to carry out to be more competitive and efficient, even as the sector grows. But surely this growth undoubtedly means that the pressure has become less on us, unlike other types of activity that have found themselves “back on the wall”.
In this context, does the emergence of vertical clouds, which respond to the specific needs of a sector, make sense to you?
To tell the truth, I see more of the logic of the vertical cloud at the SaaS level and for some business topics like managing the maintenance of our offshore parks. A particular cloud-based ERP ensures this … ESN supports us in integrating such tools, but it is different from what we have built in a PaaS. The market does not respond 100% to our particularities and complete internal developments are complex and time consuming, we favor a hybrid approach. We have adopted a posture of “architect-integrator”, to use a term of our activity, of various technological bricks. This hybrid logic is important in many subjects. For example in Asset Operation Performance, which allows us to be real-time supervisors of our wind and solar assets, there are both specialist editors and the possibility to conduct developments indoors. In a hybrid approach of integrating technical bricks and internal developments, the idea is to remain the owner of the data, even if it is in a cloud.
Conversely, when it is a publisher that provides a tool from A to Z, he de facto assumes complete data processing. On the subject of the “vertical cloud”, it is therefore important to note that we are not necessarily looking for a player who will position himself in all our details, as that will not give us a way to have a multi-supplier and multi. -geography. We want to compare performance between our suppliers and our geographies. If we were in a “single” tool market, it would be more complicated.
In this context, what message do you consider important to send to the market and cloud operators?
The priority is to gain market time and performance in the cloud, but not sacrifice control over our information system. We should not shortcut the second proposition, pretending to have great benefit in the first. Behind it, therefore, is the question of costs and reversibility that has emerged for the market. Publishers and operators ’tools must have a clear value proposition on performance control, cost control, control of our data and reversibility. They should also suggest solutions to better ensure interoperability within our systems, by increasing the quality of managed services. This seems more important to me – and challenging for their current models – than just the promise of more performance thanks to verticalization.