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Enterprises want to move their IT operations to the cloud more urgently than ever before. How they get there is the trillion-dollar question. With Gartner predicting that public cloud spending will reach $332 billion this year and IDC projecting a $1 trillion market for all cloud-related services by 2024, the race is on to provide attractive cloud-migration solutions in a competitive marketplace.

What does a large-scale cloud migration look like for a Fortune 500 company and the IT services provider assisting with the transformation? Bias, an award-winning managed service provider (MSP) based in Roswell, Georgia, recently shared details with VentureBeat about its implementation of a cloud solution for Office Depot. The upshot: Bias helped Office Depot conduct a cross-platform migration to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) that shifted all of Office Depot’s applications to OCI in an effort to reduce capital expenditures and improve overall system stability and performance.

VentureBeat spoke with Bias cofounder and executive vice president John Ezzell about the Office Depot project.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

VentureBeat: What were the specific goals with this solution, in terms of a target for reducing operational costs? Have you hit that target?

John Ezzell: Office Depot wanted to modernize and simplify their IT infrastructure, reduce operational costs, and enhance the performance of their Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) Financial, Supply Chain, and Human Capital Management systems. Bias proposed a modernization solution that aligned with Office Depot’s “cloud first” strategy to move all their applications to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

We were able to achieve all of our goals, both in terms of reducing operational costs and improving IT system performance throughout the organization. The efficiencies we introduced not only lowered costs for Office Depot, but they also dramatically improved the user experience for business users and the IT staff supporting them.

Here are some of the highlights of the implementation:

  • Office Depot business users are seeing a 6 times to 10 times improvement in system performance on both batch and online transaction processing (OLTP) transactions.
  • All user interface/OLTP response times are less than 5 milliseconds.
  • There has been a 95% reduction in cloning time.
  • We were able to process as many as 6.5 million orders a day during Office Depot’s critical “Back to School” season.
  • The automation of routine build, configuration, and management tasks using big data platform (BDP) and operations management center (OMC) functions reduces both defects and cycle time.
  • System stability has been improved to 99.95% availability.
  • Office Depot now has the ability to scale CPUs and other system resources during peak processing times.
  • We put in place a complete and automated disaster recovery environment for all technology stacks.
  • Service levels for instance provisioning, backups, and disaster recovery have been reduced from days to hours.

VentureBeat: What systems did Office Depot migrate and were they all hosted on-premises before you helped them with their cloud implementation?

Ezzell: Office Depot migrated their financial, supply chain, and human capital management systems, as well as their supporting systems that consisted of 34 applications, 28 databases, and 55TB of data, which was hosted on aging, on premise Solaris M9000 and T5-4 Solaris servers.

All 28 databases were hosted on 10 M-9000 and T5-4 Solaris servers. The total CPU cores were 310 and about 2.5TB of memory was allocated. The Solaris databases required a cross-platform migration to Linux.All the applications were hosted on 55 Linux application servers with about 150+ virtual machines.

VentureBeat: As a solution provider, you promise customers that you’re able to do your work with “minimal downtime” while migrating to OCI. What was that network downtime for Office Depot while the solution was being implemented?

Ezzell: Bias was able to migrate 27+ applications to Oracle OCI with under 48 hours of total downtime. This was a complex cross-platform migration from Solaris to Linux that was actually accomplished with record downtime.

VentureBeat: In your opinion, why did Office Depot select Bias over other solutions?

Ezzell: Bias provided a solution that was better than the alternatives in the marketplace and also aligned with Office Depot’s “cloud-first” strategy. Here’s how:

  • OCI Exadata Cloud Service (ExaCS) provided the highest performance and scalability alternative for Oracle databases
  • We offered the best improvements to performance on Office Depot’s extremely high-transaction OLTP and batch volumes
  • OCI virtual networking allowed Office Depot to extend their current network and authentication tools (including Checkpoint firewall, SecureAuth, VASD, Qualys scanning, and more) into Oracle OCI
  • And finally, Bias makes automation a key component of our services strategy.

The Bias Digital Platform (BDP) lets us develop solutions in a collaborative automation environment. And for Office Depot, we were able to implement extensive automation utilizing Terraform, Jenkins, and Ansible products. Bias was able to make the process of deploying infrastructure and configuring the applications repeatable. This resulted in an average fivefold decrease in overall time to configure the various environments while also reducing errors associated with manual provisioning.

VentureBeat: What capex (capital expenditure) and data processing improvements have you seen (or do you expect to see) for Office Depot as a result of the migration to OCT?

Ezzell: Office Depot anticipates realizing a $5 million return on investment (ROI) on the implementation over the next five years, with most of the savings coming from the elimination of the need to purchase replacement hardware and the canceling of Oracle licenses.

The benefits both in terms of data and operational improvements that were achieved were:

  • Office Depot was able to move to a cheaper infrastructure that led to $250,000 of reduced Oracle licensing costs and $5 million in savings from hardware replacement costs.
  • Their data was completely encrypted before being hosted on the cloud.
  • They were able to process more workloads without increasing or scaling CPUs, resulting in Office Depot being able to handle more than 6.5 million orders a day. This was accomplished with scalable Exadata Cloud Services (ExaCS) for databases, which are available only on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
  • Office Depot had to mobilize 50+ IT folks in the past to handle a month-end / quarter-end close, but after the cloud migration, this is a non-event and they get the same thing accomplished with just two IT resources. The other IT personnel resources are now focusing on developing the company’s next-generation platform.

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