What began as a small milk operation in B.G. Chitale’s backyard during the late 1930s helped launch an entrepreneurial dairy movement and establish the dairy industry in India. Today, Chitale Dairy is one of India’s leading dairy brands, serving tens of thousands of residents in India’s western region of Maharashtra.
Vishvas Chitale—the founder’s grandson and the dairy’s current CEO and CTO—has continued the dairy’s legacy of innovation, embracing technology to scale operations, increase efficiency and improve profitability. In 2015, with help from VMware and Dell, he launched an innovative ‘Cows to Cloud’ programme to boost milk production among suppliers. RFID tags on 50,000 cow collars collect vital data about cow health and productivity. The dairy analyses that data within a VMware-based private cloud environment and relays real-time insights to farmers via SMS messaging. As a result, farmers have produced 10 times more milk while using fewer cows and less land.
More recently, Vishvas Chitale launched a new, comprehensive ‘Grass to Glass’ programme that aims to digitise every aspect of the business—from feeding animals (‘grass’) to delivering dairy products to consumers (in ‘glass’). App modernisation is a key part of the programme. By drawing from the VMware Tanzu portfolio, the Chitale development team is containerising key applications and running them on Kubernetes clusters. Modernisation will help the dairy accelerate delivery of new capabilities and boost efficiency while providing the flexibility to capitalise on multi-cloud environments in the future.
Recognising the vital need for app modernisation
In the dairy industry, the pandemic accelerated changes in consumer expectations for services. ‘In the early days of the pandemic, our customers couldn’t go to the market to buy our products. They wanted to order from home and have products delivered’, says Vishvas Chitale.
Meeting those expectations meant that the dairy had to modernise key applications, such as point-of-sale apps. ‘All of our apps were inflexible, monolithic, web-based software’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘We had to make changes quickly to give consumers the experience they wanted.’
The ability to adapt to changing market conditions was—and is—critical. ‘If you aren’t agile enough to provide modern apps to consumers, you’ll be out of business in a short span of time’, says Vishvas Chitale.
Beyond incorporating new app features and capabilities, Chitale Dairy needed to improve software scalability. In the short term, the dairy must accommodate more customers using apps to place orders. Looking ahead, the dairy wants to support occasional spikes in app utilisation, such as during festivals, while also preparing for longer-term business growth.
Ensuring app resilience is another top priority. After a series of floods rendered a data centre inoperable, the Chitale team recognised the need for greater flexibility for running apps. ‘The floods—and the pandemic—forced us to think differently’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘We need the ability to pop up applications from different data centres easily.’
Modernising apps with Sunfire and VMware
To move forward with app modernisation, the dairy is working with Sunfire Technologies, a VMware Premier Partner. Sunfire is helping the dairy containerise existing apps, implement an agile DevOps methodology and build continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.
Teams from Sunfire and Chitale Dairy are drawing from several VMware solutions to support the app modernisation initiative. For example, VMware Tanzu Standard Edition provides the enterprise-ready Kubernetes environment for newly modernised apps. With VMware Tanzu, the dairy can run apps not only on premises but also in public cloud or edge environments. The DevOps team can seamlessly shift apps among clouds without rewriting code.
VMware Cloud Foundation augments the capabilities of the dairy’s existing private cloud. The dairy’s IT team can automate more management tasks while putting in place the foundation for a hybrid cloud. To manage multi-site cluster and application communications, the IT team selected additional VMware technologies. Tanzu Service Mesh will enable automatic scaling across Kubernetes clusters and clouds to meet shifting demand. The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer will allow the IT team to deploy, manage, scale and monitor application service engines across any cloud.
In the future, the dairy can implement VMware Tanzu Mission Control to streamline Kubernetes management. The dairy’s IT group would gain a centralised hub for administering consistent policies across environments, even as the dairy extends into multiple clouds.
For Vishvas Chitale, the VMware solutions provide an optimal combination of elements for app modernisation. ‘It’s like making a gourmet dish: You need to combine all the right ingredients in the proper way’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘When we evaluated the VMware Tanzu portfolio, we saw that it had everything we needed to provide the best possible experience for our developers.’
Achieving fast results and transforming processes
The VMware Tanzu solutions have helped the dairy modernise apps rapidly. ‘If you want to move your application without slicing, VMware Tanzu lets you do that in a day’s time. We were able to get our peak app into a Kubernetes cluster in one day’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘I don’t think any other product offers that kind of speed.’
After containerising the Cows to Cloud app, the dairy moved on to other LAMP-stack software. ‘We decided to rewrite all of our apps based on VMware Tanzu as the delivery point’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘That was a paradigm shift for us.’
New technology has facilitated a move to new, more efficient and agile development processes. ‘We developed a complete CI/CD flow for application delivery’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘We can develop and deploy apps fast. Now software development is like a factory.’
Gaining scalability for an expanding business
Modernising the dairy’s existing apps will help address the need for on-demand scalability. Kubernetes can automatically scale up containerised applications and add app resources as demand rises. The dairy will be able to handle short-term spikes and longer-term growth trends.
The dairy is also able to better protect apps from outages. If one data centre is unavailable, the dairy can now more easily spin up apps in another one to minimize downtime for users.
Speeding app delivery and enhancing business agility
App modernisation is also helping accelerate delivery of new apps and capabilities. Breaking monolithic apps into microservices enables developers to concentrate on specific components of an app. They can update a single microservice—or incorporate a new one—without having to rework an entire application. As a result, organisations such as Chitale Dairy can better address shifting consumer expectations.
‘Consumers are changing. They expect manufacturers to deliver services easily, securely and conveniently’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘It was a major challenge for us to redesign how we delivered our products during the pandemic. But embracing new technology and changing our processes enabled us to adapt fast.’
Envisioning a multi-cloud future
Building on VMware will enable the dairy to tap into public cloud environments to provide burst capacity for applications. ‘VMware solutions have improved efficiencies and given us a solid roadmap for scaling up in the future’, says Vishvas Chitale.
The dairy has the flexibility to integrate those public clouds without rewriting apps or learning new management tools. They can build and deploy apps on any public cloud or on-premises Kubernetes cluster.
‘You might use multiple clouds to take advantage of different rates and capabilities. But it can become difficult to move apps—you’re stuck with one cloud’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘With VMware Tanzu, we’ve gained a multi-cloud app delivery system that gives us tremendous flexibility.’
By enabling DevOps teams to match each app with the best cloud, that multi-cloud flexibility will help support the dairy’s ‘Grass to Glass’ digitisation programme. ‘Ultimately, we want to transition all of our software to modern, containerised apps. With VMware, we are progressing quickly with that journey’, says Vishvas Chitale. ‘In the end, transforming our software will help us become a more agile business that is moving in the direction that consumers want.’ ▪