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How Office Depot slashed operational costs with a “cloud first” strategy


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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, Ga., 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 co-founder and executive vice president John Ezzell about the Office Depot project.

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.

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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 6x to 10x improvement in system performance on both batch and on-line 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: 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.

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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 five-fold decrease in overall time to configure the various environments, while also reducing errors associated with manual provisioning.

VentureBeat: What capex 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 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.

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