Frucor gets cloudy

Frucor gets cloudy

Paul Miller says the beverage company's move allowed the IT team to add value to the business beyond 'keeping the lights on'.

Paul Miller, CIO of Frucor, says moving to the cloud has been about refocusing to core business goals, and on some level, securing his desired career path. Frucor is the Pepsi bottler for New Zealand, and the producer of the V line of energy drinks. The Auckland based company has 900 staff around the world, with 600 based in New Zealand.

In November 2010, Frucor began moving its ERP, business intelligence, and email infrastructure to the cloud.

Before this Frucor was running locally hosted or co-hosted versions of SAP ECC6, BusinessObjects, APO Server, and also its email, file and print networks. By May 2011 everything but the file and print network were hosted at an Australian datacentre.

Miller says the project was kicked off by budgetary constraints, and the previous hardware coming to the end of its life, but a significant amount of his decision was based on a desire to move IT towards providing more business value.

Before moving Frucor’s infrastructure to the cloud, his 19-member team were focused on maintaining IT infrastructure and “keeping the lights on” instead of working on IT solutions for business goals, says Miller.

Maintaining a modern server room would have required a high investment in money and IT manpower, and would have represented a backward step for where he wanted his team to be in the business.

“You may as well admit it’s not your core focus, it certainly wasn’t ours, so maybe it’s something you should get someone else to look after,” says Paul Miller.

For Miller there was also an element of personal ambition involved in the decision.

“I asked myself where do I want to be as head of IT? Do I just want to be the guy the executive team comes to when they want an iPad or do I want to be someone who is a critical part of the business team influencing business decisions?

“I didn’t want to be the head of tech like the way it was going. I wanted to be head of innovation, and I couldn’t do that if we were bogged down maintaining infrastructure.”

Since the move, Miller has been able to refocus his team on business objectives by restructuring two previously required technical support roles, and replacing them with a project manager and user support position.

His key advice for CIOs considering a similar move is to have a dialogue with their incumbent vendor. “We went and talked to SAP’s technical architects before fully tackling this,” he says. They recommended the datacentre provider for Frucor in Australia.

“They were really supportive, but it’s not a service they really advertise,” says Miller. “You can demand it and you should demand it, and it will do you a world of good.”

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