Fast, enterprise-class cloud migration

Fast, enterprise-class cloud migration

With the help of CDW and Peak 10, Rayonier Advanced Materials placed its entire IT environment in the cloud—in less than five months.

It was January 29, 2014, when David Nettles was informed about the impending split. His company, Rayonier Inc., was dividing its land resources business from its performance fibers business, creating two independent, publicly-traded companies. And the transition had to be complete by June 27.

In an instant, a three-year cloud migration plan was reduced to five months.

“Several providers told us it would take 18 months, but we had a deadline,” says Nettles, the director of IT operations for the newly formed Rayonier Advanced Materials. “We needed to move fast and with a minimal amount of risk.”

Nettles turned to CDW, which had previously helped Rayonier design its network infrastructure, select the right technologies, and identify colocation facilities.

“They wanted to divide all of their applications and data into two domains, put one of those domains in the cloud, and have it fully managed in 90 days,” recalls Andrew Klos, aggregation services cloud specialist at CDW. “Needless to say, it was a very aggressive timeline.”

  • Rayonier Advanced Materials is the leading global supplier of high-purity performance fibers and natural polymers for the chemicals industry.
  • As a new, independent company with more than 85 years of intellectual property and manufacturing knowhow, Rayonier Advanced Materials has the flexibility to pursue a number of growth and diversification strategies.
  • But it needed an equally flexible IT infrastructure to support such ambitions.

Lightning in a bottle
“We need to be fast, efficient, and responsive. And that means focusing on the business, not hardware,” says Nettles. “Keeping the lights blinking adds no value, and, quite frankly, others can do it as well as or better than we can.”

With guidance from CDW, Rayonier Advanced Materials selected Peak 10 as its full-service cloud provider. The decision was made not only because of Peak 10’s willingness to facilitate the rapid migration, but also because of its enterprise-class, Cisco Powered™ cloud environment featuring EMC storage.

“We wanted the best gear,” says Nettles. “No white label boxes.”

  • The new company’s data center is now entirely in the Peak 10 cloud, including 220 virtual machines, 140 applications, and roughly 30 terabytes of data.
  • After 30 days of planning, 90 days of data and application migration, and 30 days of testing and validation, the environment went live four hours before the June 27 deadline.

“What Rayonier accomplished in such a short amount of time is absolutely amazing,” says Klos. “They caught lightning in a bottle.”

Value-added activities
Peak 10 now handles the day-to-day management and monitoring of the Rayonier Advanced Materials IT environment, including hardware and memory updates. The cloud has dramatically enhanced the company’s disaster recovery capabilities. And the environment can expand or contract as business needs dictate.

“When you own and manage all the hardware, you always have too much,” Nettles claims. “In the cloud, we never have to overprovision, and our cost is based on usage.”

Nettles expects the cloud to save his company more than $650,000 over the next three years compared to a self-managed colocation strategy. More importantly, his team can now focus on value-added activities.

  • The company’s mission-critical resource management application was recently upgraded. Without the need to evaluate capacity requirements and provision new hardware, the process took weeks instead of months.
  • The IT team was also able to consolidate and cleanse four Active Directory domains, quickly finishing a project that had been lingering for six years.

“We finally have the time and resources to clean up old problems,” says Nettles. “We’re just so much more efficient.”

For others who may be considering a move to the cloud, Nettles recommends taking a long-term approach and focusing on business benefits versus speeds and feeds. But he says the underlying systems—and the reliability and security they deliver—still matter.

“I feel just as secure in the cloud, if not more,” Nettles says. “But it depends on the environment, of course. I feel very comfortable with Cisco and EMC gear in the background. Placing all of our applications and data in a large public cloud, where you don’t know what’s on the back end, would be different.”

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