FMCG

Consolidate the FMCG’s Digital Platforms.

Client: FMCG

Category: Azure, CMS, Cloudinator

Date: January 2019

A large FMCG company had their brands and business units operating in a federated manner. While this is not uncommon it has created a scenario where shadow IT was occurring, most especially in the digital space, making GRC and execution against an overall IT strategy impossible. Each brand within the group was running its own digital policies (or none at all!) and operating on whatever platform they wanted. More often than not these decisions were not being made by knowledgeable technical staff but by marketing or digital agencies. This created a significant governance concern and posed a significant IT security risk to the group. This situation came to a head when an external incident caused severe damage to one of the brands. This incident had the potential to damage the main holding company’s brand as well as the financial well-being of the entire group.

Business Challenge

Shortly after the incident the company began to bear a barrage of hacking attacks on its various websites. Because of this situation there was a need to consolidate all the different brands’ hosting onto a single environment which was governed and monitored by Group IT. In this case, Azure was chosen due to the recommendations of Tangent Solutions. Azure enabled Tangent Solutions to implement a hardened and secure hosting environment and monitor all the websites on a single toolset and perform speedy and advanced disaster recovery if needed.

At the time of the consolidation project the Azure data centres had not yet arrived in South Africa and as such the websites were deployed into the data centres in Europe. Through Tangent Solutions’ in depth knowledge of Azure and how to use the cloud to its full capability the remotely hosted websites were able to outperform locally websites in South Africa.

The consolidation project did face significant challenges due to the federated nature of the company and engagement with business units was initially difficult. Some of this was caused by resistance to a perceived ‘loss of independence’. Additional complexities arose when engaging with businesses who had implemented websites but did not understand their chosen technologies or had not kept these technologies up to date.

The way the company had been operating highlights the risk of having a federated business where Group IT does not thought lead the group on technology and thus resulting in risky shadow IT. The role of a modern Group IT needs to one of a centre of excellence, of governance, thought leadership and business enablement, taking into consideration the need for agility of their internal customers.

How we helped

It took Tangent Solutions two months to consolidate this FMCG’s digital platforms and align them all onto one platform via Azure. Once Tangent Solutions had its formula in place to migrate the various websites onto one platform, the process flowed efficiently. As time was of the essence Tangent Solutions developed a tool called the ‘Cloudinator 4000’ to automate the deployment of the websites into Azure and upload the digital assets into the newly created Azure environment. Once the base architecture was in place and the buy-in from all the stakeholders was achieved, Tangent was able to scale the deployment of the digital platform to the cloud rapidly.

Results

After the migration the company suffered no breaches of their security with regards to the hosting of their brand websites. Additionally, the overall performance of the websites was vastly improved resulting in a better customer experience. Group IT established a governance framework for the business units to adopt for their digital assets that took best practices and security into consideration ensuring the digital strategy of the group was on track and secure.

This scenario illustrates the dire risks that can arise when you do not take ownership of the company’s total digital footprint. Valuable digital assets need to be managed effectively and given the care and consideration they deserve. Consumers operate on digital platforms constantly. Well known brands need to ensure their digital presence is secure and drives customer engagement. While the hosting costs were greater than the hosting used prior to the consolidation, the costs were still reasonable. If the company accounted for the costs of the risk and brand damage, the cloud costs were insignificantly in comparison.

Conclusion

The critical lesson the FMCG entity learnt was the importance of maintaining the business’s digital asset on a mature and secure cloud platform. Much complexity of operating in today’s connected and fast moving environment is managed by Azure. It realised that its digital assets have a high value to the company. And as high-value assets, it needs to be looked after and maintained effectively and efficiently.

Technologies Used

  • WordPress
  • Redis Cache
  • PHP
  • Linux App Service
  • Containers
    • Azure CDN
    • Azure WAF
    • Varnish