Property and construction practice RLB has rid itself of all infrastructure hardware by turning to the cloud across its business.
Mark Evans, head of IT for RLB, gave V3 an insight into the firm’s zero infrastructure strategy ahead of a video presentation on the project that will be broadcast during the V3 Cloud & Infrastructure Live event on 21 and 22 April.
Evans explained that the firm now uses Microsoft’s Azure platform to host all its core business software, such as document management and ERP, and AWS for its CAD rendering as the AWS platform is better at handling high-intensity workloads.
RLB previously used a private cloud environment for its infrastructure alongside some on-site hardware, but this proved costly and cumbersome.
"We were on a fairly heavy metered service with our old private infrastructure-as-a-service offering as we had a pipe into our virtual machines operating on a per megabyte of bandwidth and it was becoming quite expensive," Evans said.
"But with the public cloud the economy of scale means we aren’t going to hammer that and we can maintain our maximum message size with Office 365."
This has seen a huge cost saving for the company, which is now spending in 12 months with Microsoft what it spent in two months with its private cloud deployment.
However, while cost savings have been a key benefit of the cloud move, Evans explained that there has been a cultural shift at the business as the IT department can now help, rather than hinder, departmental entrepreneurialism.
“Now if someone comes to us with a crackpot idea, or a brilliant one, we can have a server up and running in minutes to try it out. If it doesn’t work, we just switch it off and the cost is minimal,” Evans said.
“People are really embracing that and it’s quite refreshing for us in IT to be in a position where we can mostly say 'yes' to ideas rather than just saying 'no' or saying 'yes' and then listing a load of caveats that make it unworkable.”
This would not have been possible under the old setup. "The growing prevalence of 'what if?' scenarios we're now dealing with would be a nightmare to manage if we were on a three- to four-month procurement cycle for new kit," said Evans.
He likened the growth of cloud computing to the evolution of electricity, something that all businesses need but rarely give a second thought to beyond the cost.
“I think the cloud is like electricity. Years ago businesses had to generate their own electricity and manage that. But now we’re seeing organisations like Netflix or Uber that have never owned a data centre,” he said.
“That’s similar to organisations that in the past set up and never ran their own electricity. They don’t need to build and maintain it themselves, just like the cloud.”
Evans is one of several high-profile end-user IT professionals taking part in the V3 Cloud & Infrastructure Live event on 20 and 21 April. Registration is free so make sure you sign up now.
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