CeBIT 2012: CHEP deploys Cloud to improve company integration

Global hybrid Cloud implementation expected to be complete by June 2012

Pallet and container supplier, CHEP, is nearing the end of a worldwide deployment of a hybrid Cloud designed to speed up system integration with company acquisitions.

Speaking at CeBIT in Sydney, CHEP Australia senior infrastructure manager, Sidney Wong, told delegates that the hybrid Cloud, which will be fully rolled out by June, was necessary because of a number of challenges the supply chain company, which operates in 49 countries, faced.

Among these challenges is the need for the faster and smoother integration of new acquisitions such as US-based logistics services company, IFCO Systems, into the CHEP IT environment, Wong said.

In-depth: Cloud computing strategy guide.

“We’re also trying to come up to speed with some of our business demand," he said. "Supply chain solutions is a fast paced industry and we need to know exactly where our pallets are, as do our customers."

CHEP also needed to give service centre agents, who work off-site, limited access to its internal systems, Wong said.

“One of the things we had to consider was running IT systems on premise or leverage what Cloud computing could give to us,” he said.

After consideration, the company decided to adopt a hybrid private and public Cloud because it had already heavily invested in IT infrastructure.

“We didn’t want to rip that infrastructure out and throw it away so where we see that fitting in is that as the infrastructure ages we can start shifting this into a hybrid Cloud model,” Wong said.

“Cloud pricing is also very clear cut and we’re able to break down the cost on a per user basis.”

Use of a hybrid Cloud model has also given CHEP reduced deployment times for IT infrastructure and provided on demand compute/storage aligned with the fast paced supply chain management business.

In addition, CHEP has implemented Microsoft Office 365 across its global business and company acquisitions to speed up integration time.

“We no longer need to wait two months to integrate with these new companies and share information. Since we've moved into that Cloud model it now only takes a couple of weeks,” Wong said.

However, he added that the hybrid Cloud implementation was a lengthy process as it conducted due diligence and took into account differing Cloud standards around the world.

“The struggle for us is that there are different standards and legislation so it took a long time to decide on the strategy we wanted to take,” he said.

“That strategy also needed uptake from the business so we needed to clarify risks versus benefits and challenge the Cloud providers in terms of contracts and data sovereignty.”

To mitigate against potential data breaches, CHEP has encrypted its data in the Cloud.

Wong concluded with some advice for other companies looking to adopt a hybrid Cloud model.

“You need to talk to the Cloud providers to tailor their solutions for your business because at the end of the day your business has different requirements and the provider shouldn’t take a cookie cutter approach,” Wong said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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