VMware vSphere+ Sparks Lexmark’s Multi‑Cloud Transformation

Over the last 30 years, Lexmark has grown from a photocopier manufacturer to a pioneer in networked imaging and IoT solutions ─ managing more than 7 million printing devices in over 170 countries.

Lexmark created a global print and services platform, aligning the evolution of digital imaging tech with document management needs to supply services from a central hub. As the company perfected its own IoT and edge network, Lexmark recognized an opportunity to harness its IoT expertise; creating the Lexmark Optra IoT Platform to enable other makers of connected devices to deploy, manage and maintain IoT and edge products, using the Lexmark digital ecosystem.

“If you think about imaging, a printer is really an IoT device,” said Vishal Gupta, global CIO and CTO, Lexmark International. “We wanted to provide the human touch for our customers, to ship supplies when needed, to whom they’re needed, and with supply chain challenges, to extend the life of these devices.” 

Each Lexmark printer has up to 125 sensors to collect various data. Connecting this sprawling digital ecosystem enables Lexmark to deliver remote services from predictive maintenance to supply replenishment and document management, making it one of the world’s largest IoT and edge networks.

“We have manufactured about 30 million printers. We know how to secure them, how to manage them, how to remotely enable the outcomes our customers need,” said Gupta. “Our vision is to help our customers leave a lasting impression in their world and, as an innovation platform, that’s what our IoT and edge offerings enable them to do.”

Modernising for a hybrid, multi-cloud world with VMware vSphere+

Operating a vast digital infrastructure of this scope and scale poses formidable challenges. Lexmark uses a dozen on-premises data centres across a global network, all running on the VMware vSphere cloud compute platform. As digital technologies mature and customer demands become more complex, Lexmark needed to modernise digital infrastructure to support traditional and cloud native applications in on-premises and public cloud workloads—all with a unified system to manage the estate as a single entity.

Lexmark chose VMware vSphere+

The vSphere+ workload platform brings cloud benefits to on-premises by deploying high-value cloud services to quickly build, run, manage and secure traditional and next-gen applications. The platform offers a cloud-connected subscription that provides centralised management for an entire distributed environment through a cloud console. vSphere+ enabled Lexmark to manage all distributed data centres as one.

“We’re moving to a hybrid, multi-cloud world,” said Gupta. “We’re going from 12 somewhat homogenous data centres to maybe half that number, with three different clouds, Azure, AWS and Oracle.”

Adopting a multi-cloud strategy gives Lexmark many advantages. The ability to use any cloud allows developers the freedom and flexibility to build applications using the best features of each. Integrating on-premises data centres with any number of public clouds is a plus. And of course, vendor lock-in is no longer an issue.

Using an assortment of platforms can increase infrastructure complexity and pose security and management challenges, but vSphere+ allows Lexmark developers to run cloud deployments in a similar way as on-premises assets, creating a seamless experience.

“When you’re in the middle of infrastructure transformation, you have to ensure that you’re getting the agility without the complexity,” said Gupta. “We use vSphere+ to help reduce complexity—now I don’t have to stand up separate teams for each environment. I can have a holistic team that manages all these infrastructures as one.”

Simplifying infrastructure and accelerating innovation with DevOps services 

For Lexmark, this modernised infrastructure delivers the flexibility and necessary capabilities to launch new subscription offerings. Developers enjoy a suite of services to streamline networking, storage and management for Kubernetes workloads. By giving developers access to an enterprise-ready DevOps environment, Lexmark seamlessly builds and runs containerised applications. 

And using vSphere+ allows the Lexmark data science team to more efficiently manage GPU resources and leverage GPU-based acceleration, to create a variety of AI and ML initiatives.

“When you have infrastructure that’s elastic, predictable, easy to secure and operate, it gives the freedom to the developers to essentially innovate at scale and innovate at speed,” said Gupta.

Integrating on-premises and multi-cloud models via subscription

As a subscription offering, vSphere+ offers Lexmark a more flexible business strategy. Moving from a CapEx to an OpEx model enabled the company to extend subscription-based pricing to its data centre and a flexible framework to better scale resource consumption according to need, aligning it with subscription offerings delivered to customers.

“VMware vSphere+ aligns well with our philosophy and it’s the same model we use for our own managed services,” said Gupta. “The world is moving toward subscriptions. You can see it not just in the cloud, but in how we consume entertainment. I think it’s a win-win. It enables predictability for the end consumer and the supplier.”