Lessons from digitizing chemical industry
Should IT implementation have to be done quickly, how long does it usually take? One week, or maybe one month? Or a year? This is a pretty complicated question to which CIOs and IT Directors usually answer; “It depends upon multiple factors.”
We’ve been challenged many times by this question. One time, the requirement was building a foundation to harmonize the way third parties access the customer environment for a leading chemical brand in their Merger and Acquisitions integration. Among the challenges we faced was also building a basis for future Desktop and Application virtualization to customer end-users.
Such a project required a vast technical design alignment and compliance with a specific set of service requirements. But most importantly, it helped us to gain experience and grow our capabilities.
Based on previous experience with such challenges, an experienced group of engineers — Technical Architect, Business Relationship Manager, Information Security Consultant, Project Manager, ITIL Expert, and System Administrators accomplished the project.
Our team faced the following IT challenges to providing a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) platform:
In the beginning, the challenge was a full provision of Desktop Experience (Windows-based) on various platforms like tablets, Chromebooks, and Thin-clients. The second challenge was to interconnect a Cloud environment to the customer’s premises with the National Institute of Standards and Technology/International Traffic in Arms Regulations (NIST/ITAR) compliant datacenter and solution. Another brick in the foundation became the need for capacity planning with proactive monitoring of the infrastructure, and rapid increase of capacity based on usage, taking into consideration follow-the-sun (FTS) peak usage, thus decreasing licensing costs.
Not the only, but an essential impact for the company was the provision of a scalable & reliable environment for end-users and third-party access.
The impact affected tens of thousands of people since the solution was oriented to customers, employees, and all third parties accessing the environment and business applications. Our client evaluated the project implementation as providing a Substantial Financial Return, a High Strategic Alignment, and a Significantly High Increase in Effectiveness.
Some key lessons we learned from this type of implementation: When it comes to the rapid deployment of core infrastructure, possible obstacles can appear.
Initially, the deployment looked easy as it is a replica of already built environments for other regions, however, NIST/ITAR compliance along with Federal Information Processing Standards implementation required a redesign of key components and their configuration.
NIST/ITAR Hardened OS images do not run natively on a virtualization platform, which required re-engineering Group Policies and Security Controls to adapt them to run properly and securely in a Virtual Desktop and Application environment.
However, the expertise of the team helped us to do the deployment quickly and efficiently.
Also consider the impact of Covid-19 and the trend to utilize more and more a remote work approach, brought challenges to quick deployment and one-day scalability for large amounts of end-users. We had a chance to overcome such challenges using our expertise in running such environments on other continents, where we also provided contingency planning and rapid Business Continuity Planning (BCP) capacity to our customers.
High Quality, fast delivery, and security should go hand-in-hand if one wants to achieve long-term effectiveness and instant availability of the service without any compromise of security.