Project management and scheduling services company, Tracey Brunstrom & Hammond (TBH), has moved to the Cloud to better enable the company to handle fast growth and major projects.
The company, which operates in a number of industries such as construction, government, and ICT, is currently working with Fiona Stanley Hospital in WA, doing scheduling work on the National Broadband Network, and “engaging” with HP and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA). It is also undergoing projects with Gold Coast Hospital, Townsville Hospital, and an organisation in the Middle East.
With TBH growing and its staff spread across clients’ sites, IT manager, Scott Moller, told CIO Australia that the company faced difficulties in its ability to expand quickly and making staff "tools" — applications and software — readily accessible on mobile devices.
“With continued growth in the company, our ability to expand quickly was becoming challenging,” he said. “Also, we have staff operating from multiple sites and they could be deployed onsite with a moment’s notice.
“So we have to have a system that could follow those staff, all the tools that they need have to be available, and with a lot of those jobs, our ability to extend things in storage and perform quickly became very important, that was a big challenge for us.”
Moller also said the system had to be available beyond the “normal Sydney 9-5”, as some of the work was done internationally and even across different time zones in Australia.
In April 2010, TBH reviewed its IT infrastructure, which employed a standard Windows, server-based environment and Citrix-based platform. Moller joined the company two months later in June 2010.
“The focus of IT was always about servers there and hardware that,” he said.
“So part of getting a brief understanding of what we want before we went to the vendor was to understand what we were trying to deliver internally in the business and trying to work out what we were going to deliver for the client as well.”
Moller said one of the issues raised by the directors of TBH concerned security and mitigating a number of “risks” associated with data sovereignty.
“There’s certainly some security concerns, but [also] a sense of loss of control,” he said.
“You’re essentially handing your data off into the unknown world so some of the areas now are linked back to data sovereignty. [But] we know specifically where our data is stored and in which data centres; we know the location at all times.
“We also have a full replica set of data on a device that’s owned by the company, not by the Cloud vendor. That sits in a data centre and we have obviously access rights to that at short notice periods.”
The company decided to migrate with Trusted Cloud, which was being taken over by TPG Telecom Limited during the negotiation period.
“So we ended up deciding on a company called Trusted Cloud… they were actually being purchased by TPG, which was certainly helpful,” Moller said.
“We did consider a number of other vendors [but] the difference with this vendor compared with other ones is the other vendors were focussing very heavily on infrastructure as a service, which is still a component of Trusted Cloud but they focus very heavily on delivering a business solution or delivering a business platform. That was one of the key things.”
Moller said TBH opted for a hybrid Cloud environment, as it allowed for greater scalability and lower costs than a private Cloud solution.
In addition, he said the company shied away from public Cloud due to potential integration and the aforementioned data sovereignty issues. However, he added there is room for reconsideration in future.
“Public Cloud just wouldn’t work for us,” Moller said.
“We need a common and integrated platform due to the type of applications and their interrelationships. It was also important for the company to have full control and knowledge of where its data was located and enforceable financial SLA on system availability and performance — this is rarely available in a public Cloud offering.
“We may evaluate some public Cloud offerings in the future but our core system is unlikely to change from the current strategy.”
Although the implementation process was only completed for barely a week at the time of interview, Moller said: “The initial signs are positive”. The company started seeing improvements in performance, received positivity from staff, and could now deliver their platform through multiple devices.
“It’s quite a successful changeover, but it was a big job. So it wasn’t a sort of quick fix; it’s certainly a long project.
“We never thought it’d be quick and easy. If you look at, we started this at the end of 2010 and we’ve gone live now. There’s a lot of processes you’ve got to go through, but from a contract sign point until go live is about a six-month process.”
TBH rolled out its videoconferencing facilities as part of the migration process and integrated Cisco wireless that fed into that. The company is now in the process of consolidating its IT operations and improving its helpdesk procedures. It will also look into several “transformation projects”, including an ERP review and ERP document management, as well as conduct a full review of its phone system and move toward mobility.
Moller’s top five tips for Cloud migration
- Understand the business first;
- Understand what your clients’ expectations are and try to predict what they might want in the future;
- Spend a lot of time on the contract;
- Bring the staff along for the journey and sell them what the end results are going to be; and
- Know what you want. “One of the things you need to do is have an acceptance of your overall Cloud strategy that everyone’s on board and you’re on the same page and you’re not distracted by hype and vendors,” Moller said.
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