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HP Software's community for IT leaders // April 2012

Global business keeps up—and expands—with the cloud

Germany's Vaillant Group exploded to 12,400 workers in 25 countries thanks to heavy M&A, and the only way to keep growing was a move to the cloud.

When executives at 138-year-old Vaillant Group assessed the company’s growth after several years of mergers and acquisitions, they found themselves leading a sprawling global organization. The German heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business had ballooned to 12,400 employees in 25 countries, with products in its eight brands exported to more than 60 nations.

The company needed to standardize IT infrastructure so that it could make sense of what it had—and continue to concentrate on expansion. Having already distinguished itself as an early cloud adopter, starting its journey into infrastructure as a service (IaaS) in 2006, the company decided to double down with a two-year transformation to a complete HP cloud solution. The move has helped Vaillant organize its entire supply chain and manage the rapidly growing pool of data from its global operations.
Gürdal Ergüven, Vaillant's IT director, says at least 80 percent of the company's IT services are now cloud-delivered.
“Everything that is business critical—our SAP environment, for example—is hosted by HP and is essentially private cloud,” Ergüven says. “There are some activities, like backup of end-user devices that are in-between private and public because we are the only ones able to access that data, but it’s an infrastructure used for many different customers. So the infrastructure is public, but the security is as strong as it is if it were private.”
Slimming down to bulk up
Recent acquisitions resulted in a sprawling portfolio of IT systems that Ergüven had to consolidate. His first challenge was streamlining IT to improve integration of new businesses and time-to-market of new services. The next step: facilitate business growth with new products and services.
Getting all that means letting go. Vaillant turned much of its IT decision-making over to HP, a significant culture change.
The HP solution, a mix of public and private cloud technologies, is a pay-per-use utility model, including IaaS. Vaillant Group users have access to solutions rather than servers and software; email, backup solutions and Vaillant Group’s SAP system are provided as a service, accessed via an online catalogue. Users can order a new PC, log in and have access to back-end services, and business units can access specific applications as required. Costs are charged directly back to the user, and there is a user help desk to log and respond to incidents. The entire operation runs on HP infrastructure, hosted at HP data centers.
Ergüven says he feels none of the skepticism toward cloud computing he’s heard from fellow CIOs. “They think of data security, they think of governance,” he says, adding that, with HP, “We have none of those worries.”
Measured improvement
Cost-wise, the switch has already generated substantial savings. The move to the IaaS resulted in higher quality of service (QoS) and SLAs, yet the IT infrastructure costs for 2007 were about 17 percent lower than for 2006. Ergüven says that the IT costs of continued organic and M&A growth is being absorbed by those savings.
“Each year we’re at least roughly 12 percent below the cost under the previous system,” he says—savings that go to support the company's strong commitment to innovation. “Right now, 16 percent of the IT budget is available for new projects. We want to get this to 30 percent.”
At the same time, Ergüven is also receiving high marks from his end-users. Annual surveys show higher user satisfaction with IT every year, he says. “On a 1 to 5 scale, where 5 is the best, it’s always between a 4 and a 5.”

For more on HP's innovative cloud portfolio, see the Converged Cloud Solutions page.


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