Like many IT teams these days, the IT department at facilities solutions specialist ABM has to do a lot with constrained resources.
With more than 350 offices in the U.S., British Columbia, Puerto Rico and various international locations (in Europe, Africa and Asia), and 115,000 employees, the IT staff numbers only 19 - down from 36 a few years ago. At the same time, the company has been growing rapidly since 2000, mostly through acquisitions that introduced a plethora of technologies to the company's IT assets. ABM provides facility solutions, including energy, commercial cleaning, maintenance and repair, HVAC, electrical, landscaping, parking and security services across a whole range of markets.
"This topic turns heads. A lot of people are comfortable running on VMware. We just want to do things better. — Andre Garcia
Its rapid growth, combined with limited budget and staff, made it difficult to rapidly deliver and manage IT services where they were needed, says Andre Garcia, assistant vice president, Global Infrastructure Services, ABM. IT services were in ever greater demand, but the team did not have the staff to manage those services or the budget to hire more people.
ABM Virtualized Its Servers With VMware, Struggled With Data Center Automation
The company had already begun its virtualization journey: It had virtualized its server estate with VMware, but had not yet achieved the level of datacenter automation required to help its staff keep up with the growth in the company's business and IT infrastructure.
"We needed to figure out how to provision services globally wherever our customers and business partners operated," Garcia says. "It took too long to deliver servers to the business. We needed more automation to amplify the talents of our small staff. The number of projects continues to grow while our IT staffing stays flat."
Garcia says he believes in being an early adopter in new technologies because vendors typically work closely with early adopters and shape offerings to their needs (it helps staff-retention too, he says, because engineers want to learn and grow).
When Microsoft launched the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, Garcia made sure that his team participated. He wanted to evaluate the possibility of using System Center to manage ABM's virtual infrastructure since his team already used System Center 2012 for installing and managing applications on ABM's desktops and servers.
At the time, Garcia's team was already struggling with VMware's software in certain areas. Then he received a $1.6 million proposal from VMware to upgrade to vCloud Suite.
Cost and Licensing Complexity Headaches for IT
"The issues were cost, licensing complexity and sometimes the technology just didn't work," he says. "We rolled out vCloud Director trying to implement a hybrid cloud, but vCloud Director wasn't working for us because we had an Active Directory with .local at the end of it."
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