Vaillant Group uses the cloud to enable growth and fuel innovation
"Most CIOs are afraid of mergers and acquisitions because they often mean a lot of work and many things can go wrong," says Gurdal Erguven, group IT director at Vaillant Group, a €2.3 billion heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer based in Germany. "In our case, we have nearly everything defined, so we are ready and able to support acquisitions from an IT perspective."
If Erguven exudes confidence regarding a complex and daunting organizational challenge—integrating separate IT organizations and systems—it's not surprising. One-hundred-thirty-year-old Vaillant Group has a long tradition of finding creative solutions to business challenges.
This innovative spirit prompted Vaillant Group to aggressively adopt the cloud in 2006. The company's cloud strategy is paying off.
"In just our first year delivering infrastructure through the cloud, we reduced infrastructure costs by 17 percent," says Erguven.
Today, Vaillant Group delivers almost 90 percent of its IT services through the cloud. This helped the company streamline IT and continually reduce costs, increase innovation and accelerate its delivery of IT services.
Vaillant Group builds private, public and hybrid cloud
Vaillant Group's cloud model consists of private, public and hybrid cloud services. The company's foray into the cloud began with an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) outsourcing partnership with HP. This included business-critical applications, such as Vaillant Group's SAP business warehouse. Today, more than 7,000 employees in 20 countries access the company's private cloud on a daily basis.
Following the success of its private cloud, Vaillant Group looked to the public cloud for other applications, choosing Salesforce.com for customer relationship management (CRM). And the company uses a hybrid cloud to support fringe processes, such as automated data back-up.
"With our move to the cloud, our time to market for IT services has gone down to zero," says Erguven. "Users now have instant access to the services they need, whether it's a printer, storage or software licenses for SAP or Salesforce," he explains.
Vaillant Group employees can access and provision these IT services through an online service catalogue called Savvy IT Shop.
Vaillant Group's cloud data security strategy
When asked how Vaillant Group approached data security with the cloud, Erguven emphasizes the value of working with an established and trusted cloud hosting partner like HP.
"We trusted HP's security safeguards and worked closely with our team to understand their security processes," says Erguven. We also had Gartner review our cloud methodology to make sure it was sound, and we retained an external data security expert to help us through the process."
When the time came for Vaillant Group to move data into the public cloud, Erguven says the due diligence they completed for their private cloud made the process much easier.
"We had already moved our business-critical applications to a private cloud, so putting our CRM in the cloud was an easy sell," says Erguven.
Regarding the public cloud, Erguven stresses the importance of having an exit strategy. In other words, how will you retrieve your data and wipe it from your cloud service provider's systems?
"For our Salesforce CRM data, we keep replication data in our SAP business warehouse for internal needs and we have a process for removing the data from Salesforce's systems if that needs to happen," says Erguven.
Asked if Vaillant Group experienced any surprises with its move to the cloud, Erguven reports that overall, it was very smooth. But he did experience some unexpected challenges with their CRM migration.
"We knew it would be difficult, but it was more challenging than we thought" he says. "We had to build and roll out a new CRM application, while at the same time, supporting our old system and migrating and cleansing data." Erguven notes, however, that once their Salesforce application was configured, the set up process moved faster and more smoothly.
For more detail on how Vaillant Group is using the cloud, read the full case study (PDF 3.2MB).
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