G4S is moving much of its infrastructure into the cloud as part of a cloud-first policy, one immediate benefit being that the company has halved its UK data centre costs as a result.
Speaking to V3 recently, G4S group CIO Nick Folkes explained how and why the firm has taken the decision to move away from owning its own infrastructure.
"We're moving everything into the cloud in one guise or another. For each area [platforms, infrastructure and software] we're looking at the cost structure and how we can support the future growth of the firm," he said.
"What is the right platform in those contexts? Very rarely is it 'Let's go build the thing ourselves, or let's enter a multi-year support contract for something we've always done ourselves.'"
As a security firm that supplies many governments, G4S is responsible for some very sensitive data, and not quite everything is being placed in the cloud.
"With this cloud-first policy, we always assess the merits [before we move systems or data into the cloud]. We work for lots of government institutions who require data to be held in that country," Folkes explained.
"Sometimes the cloud doesn't lend itself too well to that. [Understanding the physical location of data] is getting better from the main cloud players, but that remains a challenge."
As part of the move, G4S is leaving its existing outsourced data centre in the UK, and moving to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
"We have a number of large contracts for outsourced data centres, the largest of which is in the UK. We're moving that to Amazon. We felt Amazon represented the most mature model over its rivals," said Folkes.
AWS is among the top cloud providers selected by UK firms, but recent research by V3 sister site Computing found that Microsoft actually tops the pile.
However, Folkes admitted that some legal wrangling had to be done first, as the initial terms presented by AWS weren't considered sufficient for G4S's needs.
"The default terms and conditions at face value aren't very enterprise-friendly, but we worked with them to help them understand what's important to us, so they were able to host our infrastructure," he said.
The outcome of the move to AWS has been a large cost saving for G4S. "We have more than halved our data centre costs in the UK by moving our biggest outsourced data centre to AWS," said Folkes.
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