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How Open Source Facilitates Collaboration, Innovation, Speeds up the Development of New Tech and Helps Mitigate Risk
by Shelly Kramer | January 17, 2023

On this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, I’m joined by Danielle Shields, Head of Sales, Americas and Tim Steward, Principal Data Enterprise Architect for Fujitsu for a conversation on open source software and the value it can deliver, especially when organizations are focused on the speed of innovation. We also took a look at Fujitsu’s Enterprise Postgres solution and the impact it’s having in the market.

The IT infrastructure landscape has shifted quite a bit in recent years, with an increased understanding of and interest in open source software. In fact, Red Hat’s 2022 The State of Enterprise Open Source research showed that IT leaders are 82% more likely to select a vendor who contributes to the open source community. That said, not everyone is there yet when it comes to understanding the benefits of open source solutions, and challenges and hurdles remain for organizations when considering this shift. What exactly do IT teams need to know? That’s exactly what Danielle, Tim and I discussed on today’s episode.

Our conversation covered the following:

  • What has contributed to the upward trend of IT leaders prioritizing enterprise open source over traditional solutions to meet challenges and build their infrastructure?
  • How open source software, where code is freely and widely available, facilitates collaboration, drives innovation, and speeds up the development of new technologies.
  • Why companies might opt to work with a proprietary open source solution.
  • How integrating an open source software solution into current business environments doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated, and how Fujitsu’s Enterprise Postgres solution helps alleviate apprehensions regarding compatibility and integration.
  • What role the team at Fujitsu plays for customers migrating from one database solution to another and what ongoing support is offered.
  • How the Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres solution works between vendors using containers and/or hybrid and multi-cloud platforms and what the ease of use/movement looks like.
  • What role open source solutions like Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres play in ensuring the latest standards and laws surrounding data security are a top priority.
  • And speaking of risk, we explored how an open source solution can actually help mitigate risk and provide the security governance large corporations require.

We wrapped the show with Danielle and Tim sharing the key differentiators between the Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres solution and other solutions in the market and where people can go to learn more about this innovative solution.

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Transcript:

Shelly Kramer: Hello, and welcome to the Futurum Tech webcast. I’m Shelly Kramer, co-founder and principal analyst here at Futurum Research. And today I’m joined by Danielle Shields, the head of sales in the Americas, and Tim Steward, principal Data Enterprise Architect for Fujitsu. And today, we are going to have a conversation about open source software. Before we dive into that conversation, let me set the stage a little bit. The IT infrastructure landscape has shifted a lot in recent years. We’ve had lots more focus going toward open source software. In fact, Red Hat’s 2022, the state of enterprise open source, reported that IT leaders are 82%, that’s pretty big number, 82% more likely to select a vendor who contributes to the open source community than otherwise. I think that’s a pretty big endorsement for all things open source. But that said, challenges and hurdles remain for organizations when they’re considering this shift. What do IT teams need to know? That’s what Danielle, Tim, and I are going to be talking about today. And with that, Tim, Danielle, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you.

Danielle Shields: Thanks. It’s great to be here.

Tim Steward: Glad to be here.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. if you would, I’d love to have each one of you introduce yourselves. Just tell us a little bit, and what I’m interested in here is share with us a little bit about your career path and what journey you’ve been on, and how you ended up at Fujitsu. Danielle, kick us off if you would.

Danielle Shields: Sure, I’d love to. I’ve been with Fujitsu since August of this year. I’ve been selling in the tech space though for over 10 years. I’ve been with several different companies. Open source is not a stranger to me, though. Prior to being with Fujitsu, I was with EDB, also selling Postgres. Before that, I was with several different tech companies, the most notable being IBM. I’ve sold from network solutions, to collaboration, HR. like I said, the tech industry is definitely not new to me. I’ve been definitely enjoying my time in the tech industry. Learning different solutions has definitely led to my credibility and understanding what my customers want and need. I feel like I’m definitely poised to understand their hurdles and their challenges. And the open source industry, though, has definitely become a newfound love. I just absolutely love understanding the challenges, but the also new, I guess you could say, different hurdles that they’re facing, changing from more of a proprietary technology to the open source. It’s been really fun for me to change over the last several years.

Shelly Kramer: Well, great. And you seem like you’ve done a little bit of it all, and that’s great. Alright. Tim, what about you?

Tim Steward: For me, I have a passion for databases. I’ve been in the database arena approximately 30 years now. I worked with primarily every database out there, and I’ve spent the last six years working with open source databases. And then I’ve been with Fujitsu for around seven months, as of now. My passion, like I said, is around databases in general and helping customers with their database issues overall.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Well, great. Alright. We are going to dive into, of course, the topic of open source software. Let’s talk a little bit, if we can, about what do you think has contributed to this upward trend of IT leaders prioritizing enterprise open source over some of the traditional solutions that are out there? And how they’re looking at open source in terms of helping them meet the challenges that they have and helping to build their infrastructure. Tim, you want to kick us off there?

Tim Steward: Sure. I think primarily, with open source, the trend has been primarily around the flexibility of open source, and then the cost. Lowering to help with digital transformations, and then that flexibility that you can get from an open source environment.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Absolutely. What do you think, Danielle?

Danielle Shields: Yeah, I would agree. Like I said, my background traditionally was not in the open source industry. It was actually the more traditional larger companies, like IBM. And my first experience was selling large, [inaudible 00:04:37]. These really large, complex deals, and they cost millions and millions of dollars. And I think a lot of companies are realizing that while that was where the industry was at the time and that was the norm, that those are not necessarily as advantageous anymore, and they’re looking to not have those vendor lock-ins like they had before. I think open source is becoming more and more attractive to them, not having quite so long of a lock-in and not having to have to pay these large ULAs, like I said. Open sources become more and more of a drive. At least what we’re seeing for our customers, not having the lock in has been very attractive.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Vendor lock in is a big topic these days, and organizations want to do all they can to avoid that. The thing about open source that I think is so interesting is that… You both touched on it a little bit. We’re at a time where organizations are focused on rapid transformation. And so, the beauty of open source is it’s kind of like the power of many. And it facilitates collaboration, it drives innovation, it speeds up the development of new technologies. And Tim, you touched on it when you said that people are trying to really manage and mitigate costs.

And probably, we had a time when we came out of, or when we were weathering a global pandemic. The world over and organizations had to just pivot on a dime and really embrace transformation in many instances, much more rapidly in some areas than they had originally intended. I look at that as a silver lining that’s come out of the pandemic. It sort of spurred people on a little bit. But I think that understanding, why would a company choose to work with a proprietary open source solution? That’s what I’d like your thoughts on? Danielle, what do you think?

Danielle Shields: Yeah. We actually just had a vendor that we are working with currently come to us and ask us. He was very concerned about working with one of our proprietary versions, versus the community version. And he was concerned, “Is this going to be vendor lock in? Is this going to put me in a lock in like I’m trying to avoid?” And the nice part for us is that even though it is a proprietary version, if you want to call it that, but there really is no migration. It is very much the same community version. Like I said, there’s no migration from community or open source, if you want to call it, that pure model, if you will. It’s very much the same. There’s no true migrations to and from. It’s very much the same.

It’s not a vendor lock in, you would think of as the traditional sense where it’s the ULAs and that big migration that would be effort that would need to be had in the traditional sense. There’s no heavy lifting of your database in back to the database that you would’ve had if it was community. There’s nothing like that. If they wanted to leave, say, Fujitsu, or any other vendor, it’s just like going back to the version that you had for community. It’s very much that same version.

Shelly Kramer: So, it’s relatively risk free, I think. And I think, to me, that’s what I look like. I make a lot of our purchase decisions here. And so, that’s a question I always have. What is our risk here? What is our exposure?

Danielle Shields: Little to none.

Shelly Kramer: Exactly. And that’s what our customers want to hear. Absolutely. Absolutely. Tim, generally speaking, one hesitation that organizations have when they’re thinking about pivoting to an open source software solution is the notion that it might possibly be harder to integrate into their current business environment. Do you think this is still the case or not?

Tim Steward: Right. No, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Years ago, that was the case with open source, but now open source has drastically changed. It’s so flexible and all the technology, it’s the same technology that you’re using with other software. The capabilities are there and the flexibility is there, so it’s a lot easier to integrate into your current systems and your development environments today.

Shelly Kramer: Well, that’s, I think, very good news. Talk with us a little bit about the Fujitsu solution and how overall that can help alleviate challenges or apprehensions about compatibility and integration.

Tim Steward: Typically what you find in the industry is people want to gravitate towards open source, but they need an enterprise solution because they need some enterprise features. And that’s where Fujitsu comes in. We’re giving you the power of the open source environment, backed with these enterprise features such as security, as well, which is very high on everyone’s list today.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely.

Tim Steward: You need a major company backing you, for one, when you move to open source, and then you need some enterprise class features.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. What about support? Is that another part of the equation that’s important as you’re going on this journey, support from the team?

Tim Steward: Yeah, that’s definitely important, as well, because you need the 24 by seven support. You don’t want to just go to open source and then have your team out searching the internet to try and find answers to your solutions. You need somebody that can back you and take you from beginning to end from a support structure, as well.

Shelly Kramer: Right. I think that’s incredibly important. I was just having a conversation with a couple members of our team earlier in the week. And they were talking about a new CRM platform that we migrated to, and one of my colleagues mentioned that it wasn’t necessarily intuitive, and she’d spent lots and lots of time watching YouTube videos because the support wasn’t what we had anticipated it would be. And my head kind of exploded because I’m like… To me, watching YouTube videos to learn how to do something is not what I want my team spending time doing. I always ask the support question. I think that’s a really important part of this equation in terms of the offering, to know that I’ve got a vendor partner there by my side to help when I need it. I think that’s critically important.

Tim Steward: Right. Yeah, I would agree with you. We’re by your side, as well as the experience is there as well. Fujitsu has been in the database industry for over 30 years, and then long time within the open source arena for over 20 years. All of that database experience with helping customers for so many years is there to help.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Let’s talk just real quickly about migrating from one database solution to another can be daunting, time consuming, expensive. Talk with me a little bit, if you would, and I think we touched on this just a little bit in terms of the support question I asked. But to what degree is the team at Fujitsu involved in that migration process? And you’ve already answered the question, the second part of this question is about support. You’ve already answered that. But if I decide to go down this path, what happens?

Danielle Shields: I can answer that. We have a very flexible offering for our customers in whatever way they want. Some of our customers are at different, varying need levels. Fujitsu likes to be wherever our customer wants us to be. I like to call it the ‘teach to fish’ model. We have customers who want us to come in and say, migrate one database for them, and then leave a runbook for them so that they can then do it themselves. The teach to fish model, we come in and we do that. We also have a full services team who can come in and do A to Z, where we come in and do the entire migrations for them if they don’t want to deal with it. My way, “Just come in and do it all for me. I don’t want to worry about it.” I like the white glove kind of services model.

Shelly Kramer: Me too.

Danielle Shields: And that’s my style. But then we also have people who, like I said, are the teach to fish, and then we have people who just want to do it themselves and have someone they can call if they hit a hurdle. We can do any and all of the above. Whatever level the customer is at or comfortable with, we absolutely can help them wherever they are. Our services team is able to do whatever level our customer wants, and it’s obviously in varying degrees of involvement. We can do it whatever way they want.

Shelly Kramer: I think that’s awesome. And I think we’re seeing a huge shift to that in the market enterprise and beyond. Every customer is at a different point in their journey. Meeting me where I am is such an important part of the value proposition, I think that’s really impressive and important. Let’s talk a little bit about everyone’s racing toward, speeding their digital transformation efforts and trying to facilitate innovation and that sort of thing. A lot of times this includes the introduction of or the incorporation of containers, and dealing with hybrid and multi-cloud platforms, and the ease of movement between platforms is incredibly important. How does this work when a user needs to do this across multiple platforms?

Danielle Shields: We can do that, as well. Fujitsu as we like, again, to meet our customer where they are in their journey. We are a cloud agnostic vendor. Regardless of if they’re on Google, Azure, AWS, whether they’re on Prem, or whether they’re obviously in the cloud, whether it’s hosted, wherever they’re hosted, whether they’re a hybrid. It doesn’t matter. Again, wherever they are in their journey, whatever needs that they have like we were just discussing for services, we truly are a company that is about meeting them on the journey where they are with the skill set where they are. Fujitsu really is trying to cater and partner with the customer at the level and skill of which they are now, and then in the future as well. We truly are ready to partner with the customer for the time that they are currently and then in the future, as well.

Shelly Kramer: Oh, that’s awesome. Good deal. Good deal. Alright. Tim, let’s talk about data. I mean, feel like I say this so much, it’s become a trite saying, but data is truly the lifeblood of any organization at the enterprise level, at the mid-market level, at the SMB level. Data is everything. And it is absolutely, I think, beyond people in terms of the important assets of the company. I hate to call people assets, but data is probably one of the most valuable resources beyond people that a company has. So, ensuring that the latest standards and compliance and regulations, which change sometimes from country to country, all of those, that data security is incredibly important. And managing that is a huge part of a job for IT leaders. How can an open source solution help mitigate risk and provide the security governance that large organizations require?

Tim Steward: Data is very important, as you said. data is actually the new oil, is how I like to look at it.

Shelly Kramer: I’ve heard that one too.

Tim Steward: The data is so critical, it really is an asset to a company. It’s just like people these days. If you take this data, you need to be able to access this data and you need to be able to protect your data, as well. When it comes to open source, people are a little apprehensive and then they feel that they can’t necessarily get that same type of protection and have that availability for their data. But you truly can have that with open source, as well. Open source, you have the keys there to help you meet your compliance levels. The data, if it’s coming from a different country, those GDPR, that SOX compliance, the PCI compliance levels, you have the security measures there to help you protect that data.

Shelly Kramer: Super important. And peace of mind. I mean, that’s really, I think, today, being a CIO, being a CISO is an incredibly stressful job. Knowing that you can rely on technology solutions that have security, compliance, regulatory needs, all of those things that you can really rely on, I think is tremendously important. At least, perhaps it can help them sleep a little bit better at night.

Tim Steward: Correct.

Shelly Kramer: We’re going to wrap the show by talking a little bit about Fujitsu. What many people might not know is that Fujitsu is in fact the eighth largest IT company in the world, and it’s number one in Japan. That leaves some room for bragging rights. But there are plenty of competitors in this space offering open source solutions with a variety of features, and capabilities, and all of that sort of thing. What is the differentiator between the Fujitsu enterprise solution and other offerings in the market?

Tim Steward: The one thing that’s a key differentiator is that everyone has products in the market. They take their product and then they add on things to their product. When Fujitsu created their version of the database, they thought about customers. What did their clients need? They created, from the start, from the ground up, they added these enterprise class features. They didn’t go back and later say, “Oh, we need to add this because customers are looking for it.” They had that in mind when they started this. That makes us stand out within the industry today.

Shelly Kramer: I think that’s super important. I am going to ask you, Danielle, to wrap our show. You’re out there in the field among customers, prospects, all day every day. If you are talking with someone who’s thinking about moving to open source and thinking about taking this leap, what is your best advice to them in terms of where to start and what to think about?

Danielle Shields: That’s a great question. I normally will tell them to pick a database that is in testing and not in development, and to just do a proof of concept with us, or to just test it a little bit. We have a free 30-day trial, and normally that’s a good way to see if Postgres would work for them, and it’s a really good way to test out Fujitsu and see the power behind it.

Shelly Kramer: I think that makes perfect sense. And that’s the logical thing. I feel like that’s the logical thing with anything that you’re trying to accomplish, as it results to your digital transformation journey. You want a proof of concept. You want to start small and do what you want to do, see if it works the way you want it to work. And then, when it does, what’s so exciting is that everybody wants a piece of it. And then, all of a sudden you go from being the person in the organization who had to talk somebody into being my proof of concept, to being the person whose door everyone is pounding on, going, “I need a piece of that.” I think that’s a great position to be in.

Well, Danielle Shields and Tim Steward from Fujitsu, thank you so much for sharing your insights with me today. And I will be sure to include a link in our show notes to where you can find more information about the Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres platform offering. And I’ll also include links to where you can find Danielle and where you can find Tim. And if you have any questions, I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer them. But with that, this wraps our show. Thank you two so much for spending time with me today. I am sure we’ll do it again soon, but I really enjoyed the insights that you shared.

Danielle Shields: Thank you so much for having us on. We appreciate it.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Alright, we’ll talk again soon.

About the Author

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”