Change is a constant for The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, which traces its roots back to the book clubs of the 1930s. Today, the global publishing conglomerate is in the midst of a far-reaching digital reorientation, one that includes Internet-based business models and innovative technology solutions for students, teachers, and researchers.
“Our company is an old-world book seller,” says Brent Olson, director and chief architect for Holtzbrinck. “But we are transforming into a state-of-the-art digital media company.”
Delivering content and services around the world—in a connected fashion, from a number of business groups—would not be feasible from a single data center.
Holtzbrinck’s digital ambitions necessitated a move to the cloud.
A new model for IT
For Olson, the cloud was more than a new application testing and delivery mechanism. It represented an opportunity to evolve Holtzbrinck’s IT model.
“We want to get out of the hardware business,” he says.
“Like many IT organizations, Holtzbrinck is shifting the way they do business,” explains Dante Orsini, senior vice president of business development for iland, a Cisco Powered™ cloud provider with data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia. “They’re becoming more of an internal service provider.”
- iland had previously helped Holtzbrinck expand a production environment of its e-learning platform, LaunchPad, into Europe.
- The publishing group subsequently expressed an interest in consolidating its infrastructure and streamlining the application development and deployment process.
“We wanted to leverage the cloud for things like stress testing, with the ability to scale up and down as needed,” says Olson. “And we wanted it to be self-service for our developers, with an easy-to-use dashboard and automated charge-backs.”
“The challenge,” Orsini recalls, “was being able to leverage a single platform to move workloads into multiple clouds in a secure and compliant fashion.”
Cisco Intercloud Fabric
iland’s adoption of Cisco Intercloud Fabric™—which allows data and applications to be extended into public cloud environments with the same performance, security, policies, and workload control found in private clouds—was key to Holtzbrinck’s cloud adoption.
“Cisco’s vision for a globally connected network of clouds is very important for organizations like Holtzbrinck that want to securely deploy into multiple clouds,” says Orsini. “It not only gives them choice, but also control over the workloads they’re deploying, whether it’s within their own location, outside of that location, or even on a global scale.”
- Holtzbrinck now takes advantage of iland cloud environments in the United States and Europe.
- They can also migrate complex legacy applications over time without re-architecting the network.
“Our legacy applications require fixed IPs, making it difficult for us to adopt a hybrid cloud model,” says Olson. “But with Cisco Intercloud Fabric, we can extend our subnets and move those workloads into iland’s data centers. And we can do it using APIs instead of physically altering the network.”
Focusing on core strategy
According to Orsini, the environment has enabled Holtzbrinck’s central IT team to focus on core strategy while giving each business group the ability to access technology resources quickly, simply, and in a compliant manner. For example, the IT group created a catalog of quality assurance environments from which application development teams can choose—all of which can be deployed with a few mouse clicks.
“The business is much happier now that they have the ability to spin up their own infrastructure,” says Olson. “It gives them some agility and flexibility to manipulate the resources as needed.”
And the trend toward globally connected, hybrid IT deployments will only increase.
“There is an enormous market transformation happening right now in IT, and cloud adoption is going to continue to skyrocket,” says Orsini. “Tying together compute and networking resources in a world of many clouds is a steep task. Frankly, I don’t think we could make that transition without the help of Cisco.”