CCL’s Cloud Kickstarter programme and Architecture Review provide canvas for iconic paint company’s emerging picture in Microsoft Azure.

Cloud is the popular answer to most questions put to IT. But anyone who’s managed IT for a few decades or more will tell you that blanket adoption is a dangerous game inviting bill shocks, security holes, and questionable value.

Resene CIO Tim Simpson maintains a cautious position on the cloud. Rather than being “sucked into the vortex of hype and end up struggling to align invoices with commercial value,” as he says, Simpson has fixed his gaze on commercial value as he steers Resene through a staged migration to Microsoft Azure. CCL’s Cloud Kickstarter programme and Architecture Review ensure he sees through the hype to the places where cloud makes best sense and delivers most value.

Resene adds splash of cloud to evolving IT landscape

“CCL knows their stuff. They’re smart people and pushed us hard to think about what we wanted to do. It’s been a worthwhile engagement.”

Tim Simpson

CIO, Resene

Anyone with a paintbrush or a penchant for home decoration will be familiar with Resene and its eponymous retail outlet, Resene ColorShop. The 70-year-old business has built an iconic brand synonymous with colour and inspiration, providing premium paint and coatings to home decorators, and automotive and marine industries.

Resene’s coating products, some of which have slicked the hulls of Emirates Team New Zealand racing boats, might seem a world away from cloud technology. However, a group of companies of Resene’s size (approx. 1,000 employees; 70 retail outlets) requires a level of enterprise IT horsepower equivalent to other businesses also looking to do things better and smarter.

Around seven years ago, Resene established a rudimentary landing zone in Microsoft Azure. The environment needed a refresh, prompting Tim Simpson, Resene’s Group CIO, to consider Azure’s role in the company’s evolving technology platform and how best to institute controls and governance necessary for its continued development.

“You can’t just set up a cloud instance and walk away – it needs ongoing oversight,” Simpson said. “New investment in the cloud must put ongoing sustainability at the top of the list to avoid any degradation to functionality, performance, risk position, or cost efficiency.”

Resene accepted supplier Spark’s offer of a Cloud Kickstarter programme, a consulting service owned and delivered by Spark Business Group subsidiary CCL.

Weighing up options for a future in the cloud

Broadly described as a consulting framework that steers an end-to-end approach to cloud adoption, CCL’s Cloud Kickstarter programme considers technology workloads as they function today, what they could look like in the cloud, and how best to get them there. The idea is to move clients “up the stack,” from infrastructure dependencies to software-defined processes, in a manner that best matches the needs of legacy applications with relevant capabilities of public cloud infrastructure.

In Resene’s case, part of the programme involved a Cloud Architecture Review to better understand existing infrastructure, including formative work in Azure, interdependencies, and necessary resources to support the technical aspects of a modernisation programme.

Findings identified the usual suspects – pockets of aging infrastructure and soon-to-be unsupported systems. Nothing terminal, though enough for Resene to build from scratch a new landing zone in Azure, rather than remediate its legacy work.

“We’d reached the point where we wanted to put more into the cloud,” Simpson said. “But we had to back up the bus. Our early work was DIY at best. We could have reclad the house, never mind its bowed floors and shoddy foundations, but decided to start afresh on stronger foundations and with a better framework to ensure future integrity.”

Instituting cloud best behaviour

The crux of CCL’s work established policy-defined security protocols, including role-based access, and operating behaviour, which collectively function as guardrails for running applications in Azure. Documented, this body of work provides Resene with a mandate – or high-level rules – for base frameworks, Azure toolsets, and supporting operations.

The idea is that anyone in the project team performing work in Resene’s Azure landing zone is subject to guardrails that govern their organisational unit (OU) account. Guardrails will either ensure that behaviour remains compliant, because they disallow actions that contravene policy, or detect noncompliant behaviour and resources, flagging policy violations and alerting dashboards.

“We now know what we need to know to manage everything properly and operate a much better governance framework around security,” Simpson said.

Resene now has a handful of applications running in Azure, with more to follow.

Strong foundations set stage for solid build

When your core skills are in paint production, the idea of any sort of business transformation in the cloud is daunting. CCL’s work effectively provides Resene with a map. Or, to draw on Simpson’s house analogy for cloud environments, detailed plans to design and build a dream home, and to keep building as its business develops.

More than peace of mind, Resene’s newly minted knowledge and cloud practices ensure IT operations perform with greater maturity, and ongoing development is consistent.

“I deliberately retain some caution when it comes to cloud. Certainly, I’m up for it if it makes commercial sense, but it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of hype and end up struggling to align invoices with commercial value,” Simpson said. “We’re a big organisation with a small IT team, so we look for value. CCL knows their stuff. They’re smart people and pushed us hard to think about what we wanted to do. It’s been a worthwhile engagement.”

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