How Forestry and Land Scotland Uses Hybrid Cloud

September 22nd, 2023 | | 9:58
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In this video interview, learn how Forestry and Land Scotland discovered Nutanix Cloud Clusters (NC2) as their ticket to moving their IT operations to public cloud.

Find more enterprise cloud news, features stories and profiles at The Forecast.


Ken Kaplan: The forest needs technology?

Nick Mahlitz: Yes. The forests do yes, to manage your forests well and good, to use technology in a challenging environment like Scotland, where it’s very remote and the weather can be quite extreme sometimes. Technology and exploring all realms of technology will only help us better manage Scotland’s forests and our land.

Nick Mahlitz: I manage a team of engineers and technicians and manage our data center where all the magic happens of technology or files or applications and data, et cetera. So we manage that on a day-to-day basis. And then I’m responsible for helping lead and establish our strategic decisions in technology and our future.

Ken Kaplan: And where might technology be used in Scotland?

Nick Mahlitz: Sure. I mean, think of managing and looking after forests where some trees have diseases. The ability to use drones to scour around a forest and use AI and pattern matching algorithms and software to then find the trees that are diseased and stop that spreading is a wonderful use of technology in the realms of a tree in the middle of nowhere in Scotland.

Ken Kaplan: How did you get to this spot in your life, working at this place? How did you get here?

Nick Mahlitz: I was born in the highlands of Scotland and lived there all my life, albeit, I spent a year in Taiwan for quite a while. But I’ve always been interested in technology and for the last 20 years managing and building data centers has been what I do and trying to do it well. And that’s what I now do for Forestry and Land as well.

Ken Kaplan: That world has changed dramatically in the past, especially in 10 years. How do you feel in your career now about that world of IT? How do you feel about it?

Nick Mahlitz: You could feel many feelings about it. It’s challenging, it’s exciting. It’s unknowns. There’s so much happening that we don’t know yet. If we think about the technology over the last 20 years and how all the power was centralized and then the power of technology spread out to the edge, then it came back again into the center, and now we’re seeing this pattern repeat with edge technology and cloud computing, et cetera. So it’s an exciting world, exciting challenge ahead of us. And with the advent of cloud computing, we’ve got some real opportunities here.

Ken Kaplan: Let’s go into the data center and talk about the big challenges that you’re overcoming.

Nick Mahlitz: Yes. So Forestry and Land Scotland are only four years old, so we’ve always been forward-thinking. We have a lot of evangelists of technology in our organization. And so whilst we have our own data center the goal is always to migrate to a full public cloud and enjoy all the benefits that brings us. So one of the projects that we’re working on now is to migrate our entire data center to the public cloud. And that’s where Nutanix are really helping us. They helped us realize with NC2, their product, that migration path can be less challenging than what many other private and public sector organizations are experiencing. To re-engineer all their workloads into cloud takes significant money takes significant resources in terms of skills, which is a big problem in the world, finding and keeping good cloud-skilled people. So yeah, NC2 gives us the ability to migrate our data center to the public cloud using tools that we’re very familiar with. Because Nutanix offers that single management plane to manage both your private and your public instances. So that’s a very exciting project for us, and particularly because we in Scotland have high aspirations for sustainability for our net zero targets for CO emission, CO2 two emissions et cetera. So NC2 really does lend its weight into that area, and that’s very important, very important for us. So an exciting time where we can migrate our data center to the cloud and free up our digital technologists and our IT skilled people to perhaps concentrate on other things like AI and automation and other new exciting technologies.

Ken Kaplan: Let’s talk about sustainability and NC2. Tell me how it’s helping you particularly achieve some goals or set some new strategies for sustainability.

Nick Mahlitz: Yes. So we’re actively looking at the metrics and analytics behind what we currently have in our private data center. And then with Nutanix’s assistance, we know what that will look like with NC2 in the cloud. And there could potentially could be up to a 40% reduction in our footprint, which is a big savings. So whilst we don’t have the analytics yet, it’s a report I’m looking to create in June this year. NC2 really does help with that. And as we try to meet Scottish government targets for sustainability and we’ll do that via our vehicle management and our buildings management. But our data center is another big area where we can reduce that by using public cloud and NC2.

Ken Kaplan: Do you, do you ever get a sense that what you’re doing can also help other government agencies?

Nick Mahlitz: Yeah, yeah, very much so. We meet frequently with other agencies and the Scottish government in cloud communities where we share what each of us are doing in that area. And there’s been so much good work done by the Scottish government and realizing all the technologies to migrate to the public cloud, but what we are doing, no one else has done. And so using NC2 to trailblaze in this and show the benefits to my peers in our government organization, I think it’s key for me if I can help reduce costs and manage those costs in a fixed way. And if I can avoid the challenges around recruitment, which is a particularly challenging thing in the UK to reduce our footprint, then I think other organizations in the government and public sector should also look to and analyze both your native cloud approach and using technology like NC2.

Ken Kaplan: I mostly want to just capture what it is that you do. It’s interesting because we don’t think about, you know, the forest and technology and that you’re actually trailblazing. You said that those great words.

Nick Mahlitz: If you think about what’s important to people nowadays, you know physical and mental health and wellbeing are very much on the forefront of the organization. You’ve got to look after your people. If you don’t invest in your people and lose them, then you know, the organization suffers. So, Forestry and Land Scotland wants to invest in their people. We want to look after the people of Scotland, too. So, you know, there are areas that we do in terms of creating visitor centers and tourist places, and those green spaces where the family can go out for a day and enjoy a wonderful day with a picnic and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Scotland has. That’s very much also in our hearts. And again, technology is playing a part in that because we can deliver services to these rural areas that are in isolation in a better way with technology, which is a fantastic thing to do, to look after your people.

Ken Kaplan: Stepping back. The land of Scotland is the treasure, it’s precious. What’s your mission with all this?

Nick Mahlitz: Yeah, our mission is to look after our land and enhance the management of the land and forest for the people of Scotland and manage it on their behalf. Really, we’re just custodians of this. And give them the beautiful scenery that Scotland has and give it to the people to enjoy. But we also have the responsibility to not only manage that but to manage that in a sustainable way. So managing our forests in the best way possible, managing our land and creating renewable energy to help that sustainability piece is very important to us. So that’s our mission, to really provide what Scotland is to its people, but also really help our government and the world for climate control because it’s one of our big, big strategies that we take.

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