"Our aim was simple — to establish a scalable and cost-effective infrastructure that meets not just the current needs but also the future needs of Fortis. Also, we as a company, were about to take up a whole host of new initiatives, which meant that the load on IT would go up further. Increasing overhead was another problem we faced. We had to be on our toes just to keep the lights on and that's not the situation I wanted my team to be in," says Sood.
Sood saw no sense in throwing more people and money at the problem. He instead decided to start with a clean slate. "We were open to all types of options — public cloud, private cloud, hosting or on-premise," says Sood.
With news of Sood scouting for cloud vendors, he quickly became the most popular CIO in town. He was approached by 19 vendors in the coming days, who opened out their long list of specs and benefits on the table. Not the one to get misled easily, Sood prepared a list of business priorities that needed to be met. Business was agnostic to the model of the cloud IT would use, says Sood. "The business wanted performance, availability, and security. From the IT point of view, we needed scalability, flexibility, and lower TCO and the public cloud met all these requirements," he says.
But one question lingered on: Who in their right minds would move completely to the public cloud?
This was the same question that was bothering Sood's team members. "Tech professionals typically have a hardware-centric mindset. They don't understand why you are telling them to stop worrying about things like adding more servers or more memory. People are used to "seeing" servers and having the latest and greatest tech and the best specs. It was this belief that needed to change," he says.
Sood badly wanted the team's support as they were the ones who were eventually going to execute the project. He worked with them closely and kept them motivated. Once he won that support, Sood's confidence doubled.
Along with the hardware infrastructure, Sood and team moved the bulk of the core applications to the cloud. Fortunately, for Sood, most of the applications used by the company were already built for a virtual environment. That made the migration easier. But it certainly was not trouble-free. The support from OEMs and ISVs was a challenge.
But the results were worth all the trouble, says Sood. But ask him about how happy the end users are, Sood quickly turns into a philosopher. "User expectation is a moving target. Their benchmarks keep moving up," he says.
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