Some of India's most successful companies are conglomerates with large footprints, spanning multiple industries. Traditionally, group companies allow individual businesses to function as separate entities, perhaps to maintain the sanctity of their operations, or perhaps because they are afraid of disrupting established processes.
But today's technology landscape is challenging such conservative thinking. How can companies take advantage of big data, analytics, and mobility, among others, if they continue to maintain separate infrastructure stacks? How can IT support dynamic business plans if IT systems are carved in archaic datacenter architectures?
These were some of the questions that have troubled Vinit Thakur, group CIO, Dalmia Bharat Group. With a vision for holistic growth buoyed by technological innovation, Thakur led the company on a cloud transformation journey.
The Company: The Dalmia Bharat Group is one of India's most prominent conglomerates with business interests in cement, sugar, refractory, and power. The last few years have seen the company grow through a series of M&As besides organic growth. Some of its notable partnerships include big names such as Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, and Orissa Cement. In the last 12 months, the company has doubled its user base. In 2012, it acquired companies in the North-east (Adhunik Cement in Meghalaya).
"The entire IT organization was segmented," says Thakur. "Each business had its own infrastructure, applications, and ERP systems. There was no centralization." The Business Case: At the same time, Thakur could see the writing on the wall. He knew that in the future, all businesses would run on the cloud.
"The cloud is the future. We're moving quickly to a broadband-enabled, tablet-centric environment where work gets done from anywhere. The IT organization has to enable this by moving out of on-premise solutions. In short, the IT organization has to be cloud ready," he says.
Besides, with growth on its mind, the company needed fast, agile systems that could scale up and down and be responsive to the needs of the business.
At first, the public cloud seemed ideal. Thakur remembers wanting to bypass the whole virtualization layer and move completely to public cloud infrastructure. "But I realized that despite the buzz around the cloud, not all business critical needs can be met on the public cloud. That was a real eye-opener. Solutions that we wanted were not available in the AIX or HP UX platform, in many ways forcing us to consolidate."
The Project: Thakur led a taskforce comprising Dalmia's IT team and a few vendor representatives. They visited all of the company's locations and analyzed the needs of every business. What was initially visualized as a consolidation project for the cement business, was expanded to components of the group's other businesses.
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