21unity-goes-OpenPOWER: The future of digital transformation

On the 22nd of September 2022 we were proud to host the event 21unity-goes-OpenPOWER, where we presented the stack of the future to our attendees and heard exciting presentations from our partners what technology is behind 21unity’s products, both on the software and hardware side.

With 21unity Collaboration Cloud and 21pro – ERP, we want to make digital transformation as simple and secure as possible for companies, removing the barriers that often accompany large and complex IT projects. At 21unity, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel by necessity, but have brought together the best manufacturers and products for our infrastructure and platforms, in order to create the best possible tools for our customers. Rather than starting from scratch with everything, we’ve leveraged our experience and network with established vendors and communities to combine cutting-edge technology in a meaningful and logical way, to build customer-focused products, that are not only easy to use, but also scale in price and enable digital sovereignty.

The event took place in the beautiful Fechenbach Castle in Dieburg, which offered a perfect setting for the day. The day started with a relaxed arrival and get together of all participants and a subsequent welcome into the day by CEO & Founder of 21unity, Anja Gondolf. The event was deliberately not intended to be a pure sales event, but to inform about technology and also offer plenty of space for networking, as the participants came together from all kinds of industries and backgrounds and we wanted to bring people and ideas together here in the spirit of open communities.

The first talk by Christopher Branston introduced the Open POWER Foundation, which also gave the event its name.  OpenPOWER is a RISC-based processor technology formerly known from IBM mainframes that was made public as an open source project with the creation of the OpenPOWER Foundation in 2013.  The OpenPOWER Foundation drives open development of this technology, bringing together a community of developers and vendors from over 350 companies. OpenPOWER is used in areas ranging from HPC, infrastructure, AI, 5G, and all the way to storage. 21unity has developed its own hardware on OpenPOWER to build its own data center in Dieburg and thus operate a high-performance and fail-safe basis for its own platforms. However, since not all companies can or want to outsource cloud services, we also offer this hardware preconfigured for use in their own company. Yogi Schneider, the CTO&CDO of 21unity, presented this hardware directly after Christopher’s presentation.

After a short coffee break, the focus was on hardware, with exciting presentations by the two storage manufacturers Western Digital and Seagate. Although one could always think that there are not many exciting topics in storage, because „that’s just hard disks“, Joachim Müller from Western Digital and Jörg Andreas from Seagate showed how diverse the storage world is and why there are different storage media for different applications. Special thanks also to Seagate for providing two SANs, which the participants could see in an adjoining room, in order to see the devices, which are otherwise always installed behind closed doors in the data center, live and in color.

The presentation from Western Digital dealt with the topic of NVMe SSDs. Western Digital manufactures storage solutions that can meet all requirements and storage types. 21unity uses WD Enterprise  NVMe SSDs to control the most critical and zero-latency areas of the 21unity Cloud with high performance. In contrast to conventional rotating disks, high-tech chips are installed here to control the most critical areas of infrastructures and to always provide and process data with the lowest transfer times and high availability.

Jörg then presented the Seagate portfolio. Seagate is a manufacturer of storage hardware and, with its mass storage solutions, offers the perfect basis for operating cloud systems and platforms with high performance. In the talk, the participants got an overall view of storage platforms and how we are developing the 21unity SAN together with Seagate. With ADR – a technology that enables self-repair – e-waste is minimized and failures due to incorrect human intervention are eliminated. As a result, these platforms are suitable for scaling in a cloud, in an economical manner, and offer the greatest possible sustainability.

After a relaxed lunch break, which we could enjoy on the terrace thanks to the nice weather, we moved from hardware and the backend to the front-end side. Markus Windecker from Nextcloud and Marc Rodrigues from Collabora Productivity presented their platforms, which are open source and form the basis for 21unity Cloud. Both talks focused on the topic of digital transformation in companies and how the enterprise models of both manufacturers offer full support and security, thus reducing downtime and guaranteeing uptime. Both talks showed how great open source community projects, thanks to enterprise models, can also be integrated and used securely at the business level.

Nextcloud offers all the features that companies and their teams need to communicate and collaborate on projects. From a fully integrated storage solution that lets you store, edit and share data, to chat, video conferencing, email, calendars and wikis, Nextcloud offers all the functionality you need to create a digital office and keep employees connected in offices, home offices and other remote locations. Whether in the browser, via client for Mac, Windows and Linux, or mobile via app, on Android and iOS devices, Nextcloud offers availability on all platforms. 21unity Cloud has adapted Nextcloud and offers a Nextcloud Enterprise that scales to all project and company sizes and can be used directly without complicated integrations.

Collabora Productivity offers Collabora-Office, a full-fledged office suite with tools for word processing, presentation creation and spreadsheets. Collabora is not only available as a client on the desktop, but is also fully cloud-enabled and offers the possibility to work on documents with teams in real time ,directly from the browser and to develop joint ideas. Collabora is fully integrated into Nextcloud. All known formats from all Office applications are seamlessly supported. 21unity has ported Collabora Office to OpenPOWER and adapted it for 21unity Cloud and integrated it as a standard feature.

After a small coffee break and further opportunity for networking, we continued with another talk by Yogi. Yogi gave some direct insights into 21pro, the holistic ERP developed by 21unity. 21pro is the perfect extension for 21unity Cloud, as most of the time digital transformation is not only about collaboration, but companies also want and need to make the organizational side of the business digital. With 21pro, 21unity Cloud is extended to include areas such as customer, partner and employee management and thus, in terms of a CRM, all accounting, invoicing and administration tasks in the company can also be controlled and automated. Although the ERP and CRM market is already very saturated, Yogi was able to show with live impressions how the so-called „feature-oriented programming“ (FOP) leads to the development of a tool that is easy to use and designed for user-friendliness.

To round off the event perfectly, Holger Gemassmer from DAEQM spoke about compliance in the cloud. DAEQM advises companies on the introduction of management systems in the areas of data protection, occupational safety and quality assurance. Holger explained how to use modern platforms hosted in Germany, such as 21unity Cloud, to map the topic of „digital transformation“ in a secure and GDPR-compliant manner. Especially exciting was the view, that one should not only introduce tools and hope to be secure and compliant with them, but must take a holistic view of companies and processes to establish compliance at all levels as a standard in the company. Compliance is as diverse as the tasks, processes and people in your company and Holger then summed this up perfectly. Digital transformation is less about compliance IN and more about compliance WITH the cloud.

With that, the all-around successful and exciting day came to an end and we closed off with more time to exchange ideas and let the day fade out in a relaxed atmosphere. We would like to thank all participants and presenting partners, who made our event a success. We are already looking forward to exciting projects and a reunion at the next 21unity event!

To give you a direct impression, here are some pictures from the event:

Über 21unity Blog

21unity, based in Dieburg, specializes in customized IT solutions for companies. We are a cloud service solution provides and offer an "out-of-the-box" Nextcloud Enterprise with 21unity Collaboration Cloud and our own ERP system with 21pro. Easy-to-use, browser-based solutions for uncomplicated digital collaboration.

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