While the company’s core SAP ERP system, its R&D applications and other few services are hosted within Ashok Leyland’s data centre, the connected vehicles platform, mail servers and e-commerce platforms are all hosted on cloud.
“We are definitely moving towards a ‘Cloud-Driven’ future. As of date, we have a mix of strategies based on the nature of end-user requirement and other factors like end-user consumption, budget requirement etc,” said Venkatesh Natarajan, Chief Digital Officer and SVP – IT, Ashok Leyland.
The benefits achieved by Ashok Leyland by moving to cloud includes optimized costs, scalability, flexibility, increased collaboration and mobility.
Being a large automobile manufacturer, Ashok Leyland has a multitude of data sources, use-cases and end-users.
“From SAP to our CRM/DBM and our next generation Connected Vehicles Platform, we have different applications with various strategic business intents. Hence, we work with all the 3 major cloud providers vis-a-vis AWS, GCP & Azure for cross-leveraging best practices and synergies while optimizing the cost across different environments,” said Natarajan.
Talking about managing scalability, Natarajan said that the company’s Connected Vehicles Cloud Platform started with 2000 vehicles and it was scaled rapidly to support a volume of over 1.5 lakh vehicles within 1 year.
“We even subsequently migrated this whole volume from one cloud provider to another. So, not only have we kept our data costs under control, we have also been able to effectively leverage cloud native constructs to support elastic ‘on-demand’ loads depending on the use-cases we solve for and solutions we build,” he maintained.
Even in its on-premise approach, the vehicle manufacturer has implemented a private cloud environment and workloads that are allocated/augmented as per business requirements. “Scaling can happen seamlessly with the architecture that we have,” Natarajan said.
Talking about effectively managing mulicloud environments, Natarajan said, “While we have a specialized team internally to manage our cloud strategy, data stream processing from connected vehicles, elasticity controls etc. the overall Cloud management is done by a third party.”
Multi-level checks are also in place to continuously scan the complete environment for external threats. This happens 24×7 and any remotely malignant activity triggers alerts to related parties while proactively nullifying the threat in an automated fashion
“We have a robust process to enhance the efficient Usage of tools & procedures to monitor and secure the environment. Identity and Access Management is continuously updated and secured,” he added.
Modernising the data center
While the company continuously keeps adopting best practices and Technology routes for its Data centre management, Natarajan lists out some of the area where he foresees modernization: Data Centre Virtualisation; Flexibility for traditional and cloud‐native applications; Backup Strategy and Optimization; Shared service platforms to Group Companies & subsidiaries; Security & Compliance SIEM & SOC; Software Defined Networking (SDN) & NextGen Firewall (NGFW).
According to Natarajan, backup and recovery should also be at the forefront of cloud adoption strategy.
A few years back, Ashok Leyland’s user data was stored in a Traditional way, either on local hard disks or on a Common Storage.
As part of the company’s focussed Digital Transformation Strategy and adoptions, the connected vehicle platform has been migrated to a ‘Platform as a Service’ concept and all of the enterprise user data into a secure environment on Microsoft OneDrive.
“Data democratization is a critical part of our ‘Data Driven Organization’ Strategy. Data from various sources in the organization are getting integrated into data lakes and we are consciously promoting this open and collaborative culture within our Organization through online training sessions, weekly mailers on tips & shortcuts for efficient usage etc. As part of our Data Protection Strategy, we have done POCs with multiple cloud service providers to store & recover Enterprise data from the Cloud,” he added.