Cloud Strategy With A Remote Workforce

Andy Green

Vice President, Global Infrastructure at PRGX Global

Learning Objectives

Cloud strategy and integration within the organization. Remote workers and how to collaborate and accelerate business objectives.


"We're going to continue to evolve our partnerships and evolve our business and look at what the cloud offers in terms of flexibility, scalability, and collaboration."

Andy Green

Vice President, Global Infrastructure at PRGX Global

Transcript

I’m Andy Green with PRGX , “Cloud Strategy With Remote A Workforce”. PRGX it’s been around for approximately 50 years. We are a recovery audit company, which means we take a look at large companies procure to pay cycles, look for duplicate payments, missed discounts, contractual miscues, where one department or one location isn’t being billed or charged the same rate as what was agreed upon, from the corporate level. We do audits on billions of dollars of spend annually and recover hundreds of millions of dollars back for our clients. As we kind of thought about what it meant to be a cloud company, and I was actually brought here to PRGX to turn us into a cloud company, in quotes. You know, the topic came up, well, what exactly does that mean?


What is a cloud company? If we take a look at this as a journey, obviously, the first thing we need to do is take a look at what’s the destination? Right? Well, cloud, okay, what does that mean cloud for VDI? Is that cloud for software as a service? Is that cloud for application delivery? Is that cloud for infrastructure? No, what exactly is our final destination. And as we kind of looked at things that it made it clear that what we intend to do, obviously, is to take away or to, you know, limit, what would be our CapEx spend, and look towards more of a op X model. And that would be a big change for PRG. X, because traditionally, we have been a services organization, which meant we had a lot of capital assets that we managed and used in order to do our jobs. And as we’re moving now to a software company, and delivering our same services be via software, you know, it made a sort of a necessary transition for us. And we’ll talk more about that in just a minute. Um, so, you know, what are the roads to the, to our destination, and we said, you know, there’s public cloud, which is, of course, the large hyperscale public environments, throughout throughout the world, you know, not the least of which are the AWS is the Amazons and the Googles, excuse me, the azures in the Googles. But there’s also the IBM’s, there’s the red, hat’s there’s the Dell, you know, there’s the private cloud for, for particular entities, right? If If you’re hosting anything in a privately owned data center, or or location, and then accessing that back over the internet, well, that would effectively be you know, public cloud, I don’t want to spend too much time talking about what that means. You know, what the fundamental terms mean, I think we’ve all seen enough around those to have a pretty good understanding. But if we looked at, you know, would it be best for PR GX and for us as an organization to have public clouds or private clouds, or some combination thereof, which will be of course, hybrid clouds? Well, it becomes pretty obvious that hybrid is the right model for us, and probably for most people, just due to the fact that we have a large infrastructure in, in our own facility in facilities that we own. And then consequently, as we’re trying to move to more infrastructure as a service and software as a service, then those things would be part of our already on prem infrastructure, so kind of by just by pure need, and evolution, where we’ve taken on this hybrid cloud model. So again, I was brought in to help PRG X become a cloud company. And as we started talking about the things, right, is it private cloud is a hybrid cloud, is it? Is it public cloud? Well, there’s obviously vehicles to reach the destination. And you know, what is it that we’re trying to accomplish? What are the things that we want to move to the cloud? He said, There’s Infrastructure as a Service. Those are things like Cloud Hosting, hardware that you would just becomes readily available, right? You can scale out and do sort of unlimited capacity by simply increasing your your monthly spin. Those costs for the AWS is the world the Google clouds and Azure There’s software as a service. Right, as we talked about


SAS, GitHub being one, Salesforce slack, office 365. You know, I think the list goes on and on about the people and products and services that you’re able to purchase is or are made available to you as part of software as a service, then, of course, there’s platform as a service. And as you sort of grow your cloud environments, you realize that sort of the lift and shift model of taking what you have on prem and forcing it into the cloud, using, you know, virtual machines and virtual infrastructure that is used to sort of replicate your on prem environment. Well, there are cloud providers that make these things as services. And so by making use of those services, you can obviously reduce your cost and be more in tune, if you will, with that particular cloud provider. Now, of course, the drawback for that is, if you do go into a, we’ll just pick on the first one here, like a relational database service with AWS, that makes kind of picking that environment up and moving it to a different environment or back on prem. That much more difficult, right, so you’re sort of ingrained with the functionality and features within the within the cloud provider itself. So not that that’s a deterrent. Many times, that’s a good way to save dollars, and affect a fish, especially when you’re talking about in a pandemic like we’ve currently had, where the onus of that database service resides on the platform as a service provider. So you don’t then have to worry about having personnel go on site to solve problems with databases, or to have to worry effectively have limited staff. And if someone were unavailable, that service then becomes the responsibility of the cloud provider, and consequently, could be beneficial for you. In when we’re talking about issues with getting personnel access to or getting people, you know, that that may have fallen ill with with, you know, something like COVID. So there are certainly pluses and minuses for sort of ingraining yourself with that individual cloud providers. If we think about those are the vehicles, right, that’s how we become a cloud environment, either through hyperscale Infrastructure as a Service, software as a service, and then Platform as a Service. So those three things are the three different ways that we reach our destination. Of course, with any journey, there’s luggage that we have to carry with it, you know, you can think of some of these as baggage depending on which side of the operational fence you’re on. But they’re certainly architecture and develop development, right? So you need to make sure that you have architected your environment and your applications and your delivery models in order to deliver them in a cloud environment. There’s obviously security and governance, there’s privacy. And then what was really important for us as an organization, is the DevOps practice. So what happens when all of these things don’t interact and aren’t cohesive? And we’re not, you know, effectively


working as a team and understanding the end goal of application delivery and, you know, security and compliance and, and those things that go with it? Well, we end up with a house that looks similar to this, right, we’ve got a foundation that the architecture team thought of, we’ve got the security controls, that the security team data, we’ve got a request required. We’ve got the privacy controls that the data privacy teams and consortiums have agreed that would be important. And we ended up with something that looked at nothing exact nothing like what the end application was supposed to look like. And more importantly, something that doesn’t work, right. Can you imagine trying to trying to live in this house? Well, that’s what happens when we don’t have all of these teams sort of in syncing and working together. So you know, when you combine the security, the data, privacy, the DevOps, and encompass everything as a whole, the you know, the the journey becomes far more successful. But really, what happens is that the end result is more successful. And again, we’ll talk more about why this is important when we’re in a remote workforce here momentarily, but if we looked at what it took for us to kind of take our first steps into Software, excuse me into being a cloud company. You know, we had a three year journey in mind. We, we started this in 20 2019, also, at the beginning of 2019 2018, late and said, you know, the first thing for us to do is look at what our archive capabilities are, right? Why do we continue to invest in tapes? Or on prem infrastructure and, and do things for that require human bodies to be involved? Right? Why do we have so have someone come in and unload tapes, take tapes from the tape library, box him up, let a third party come and take those tapes off site and do things that, you know, were very process oriented? Not bad, but just not real? Cloud focused? So we said, well, let’s take a look at that and say, what if we archived those two to the cloud? What would be the benefit? Well, a lot of benefit, right? One is, we no longer have to rely on an individual to have to go into a facility that may or may not be closed as a result of a pandemic, like we’ve recently experienced, we have the ability then to say, Okay, if that data needed to be made available somewhere other than the US or somewhere other than its current location, we could then transfer that data far more seamlessly and easily than trying to recover the tape and then transfer that data. Same thing with Dr. Right? We have, you know, part of our plan was to implement Dr. In the cloud, that was extremely successful it to was sort of a unexpected benefit of being in the cloud, when when the pandemic had, we no longer had to have bodies at our cold facility or a warm facility, or even our hot facility in order to do some of the things that needed to be done to convert that location to our primary dataset. So again, by having our infrastructure in the cloud, by having our Dr. Strategy, and backups and archives in the cloud, we had a far less people intensive strategy around Dr. And archiving. Again, thankfully, you know, that our our people were remained safe. And we didn’t have issues that that many people did. But, you know, just in case, we took that burden of having to make sure that somebody was available to go to these facilities and do the things that needed to be done by automating those processes and moving them to the cloud. Then, of course, we were looking at, you know, what are the next evolution of our software? And how are we changing ourselves as a as an organization, cloud ready, DevOps was a big component, containers, cloud services, we talked a little bit about pas and, and software as a service. We looked at


things like legacy applications, you know, those would be the things that we would lift and shift, and really would be sort of the the last leg of our of our three year journey, I’m not going to talk too much about where we are within that journey. Right now, I think that might be for a different meeting. But I do want to kind of let you know what our thoughts were on where we intended to go, and then how the pandemic really disrupted our plan. So if we start thinking about what the plan originally was, you know, first was Dr. And archiving, second was DevOps and you know, sort of next generation application development. And then of course, third was the legacy applications. Well, now let’s step into March of 2020. And all of the sudden, we are in this, you absolutely have to go remote. So we have 33 offices around the world, we have about 1700 employees, in a manner of about three weeks, we had to mobilize that entire workforce. Now think about the fact that most of them had never worked remotely. Many of them didn’t have internet connectivity, or reliable internet connectivity to speak of, we had to figure out how they were going to communicate with each other. You know, we we had some of our offices on a cloud PBX product that was really thankful that it was at our major location, because once we had to go remote, those people could continue to get the support desk calls and the help desk calls the client success calls and things that you know, really kind of kept our business running from a client facing perspective. Then we had collaboration, right? So now how do I effectively communicate with those people not necessarily over telephone or or I am or email, but just in general, right I am seems to be the the most common way to, to talk about things, you know, on a on a ad hoc basis. And so we had to think about what does that mean in terms of the remote, or the siloed methods of collaboration that we have. And there were several tools that we were using. And we decided to focus on a single tool and actually rolled that out, while we were in the process of going to remote workforce. So pretty exciting accomplishment by the team. You know, it was certainly on the roadmap for 2020, but not the first quarter of 2020. And so we had to really focus, readjust, and, and make sure that everyone not only had the ability to make and receive phone calls from clients and vendors, and, you know, our business partners, but also the ability to communicate with each other. And when you start thinking about people that haven’t worked remotely before, and how are they going to be able to, to survive in that type of environment? A single method of collaboration was absolutely important. Then we had the whole thing around accessibility, right? What if an individual wasn’t issued a corporate laptop? And what if the individual accessed a workstation, you know, and didn’t have the ability to pull that workstation and set it up at home for for whatever reason? So how are we going to ensure not only can people discuss between themselves and communicate with external partners and vendors and clients, but except access the systems that they need to have access to? So you know, again, through working with the, our service providers and our internal IT services and security teams, we were able to come up with simple VPN solutions that enabled those people to effectively use a web browser to log into our VPN, and then, you know, access the systems and an infrastructure that they needed access to, you know, we had to communicate


globally, in with all of the changes that we were trying to accomplish. So, you know, now we’re in a position where, back to the first topic, you know, we got 1700 people globally, we had a once a quarter scheduled web conference, that was extremely expensive, right? Because we were bringing 1700 users in. So now how are we going to make sure that we can do real time updates from the C suite to, you know, to all of the employees globally. And so as part of that collect communication and collaboration effort, we were able to come up with a more on demand global webcast capability. And, you know, we’re able to keep our folks informed. So, you know, our, our journey went from what we had originally intended to be far more of an infrastructure as a service to a true Hybrid Hybrid Cloud environment. What I mean by that is, we have a hybrid infrastructure as a service environment, from our product, our on prem production infrastructure to our cloud production infrastructure. We have many partnerships with various cloud software as a service providers for both Cloud PBX collaboration, accessibility, monitoring, alerting, remote workforce, you know, all of these things have sort of turned us into what I would call a early 21st century adopter of cloud as a method of doing business not as a service, not as infrastructure, not even as software but as business as a service right by can, by combining all of the various tools and capabilities we’ve come up with is a rock solid, working environment for all of our people, whether they’re using a personal device for whatever reason, whether they’re using a corporate device, whether they’re accessing something over cell phone enabled VPN, or excuse me, a cell phone enabled internet connection, or a you know, a Comcast or fiber line. All of the connectivity is reliable, it’s stable, it’s functioning, the business continues to function. The you know, the End User Experience is absolutely as good as you could provide anywhere in the world. And by anywhere in the world. I mean, anywhere in the world. Everyone has the exact same capabilities, functionality and connectivity. The end user experience has been fantastic and the business is looking very positive as a result. So you know, what is the the last thing we can say is that the journey is never ending. We’re going to continue to evolve our partnerships and evolve our business and look at what the cloud offers in terms of flexibility, scalability, and collaboration, we we will continue to deliver the services and goods and services and accessibility that our end users need to not only do their jobs, but to excel at, at doing their jobs. And you know, the cloud is absolutely a critical component to the success of our corporate journey, not our journey to become a cloud company, but our corporate journey. Hope you found this interesting. If you’ve got any questions, please let me know and thanks for your time.


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