Follow the money -- Revlon's private cloud

By Georgina Swan, CIO Australia |  Cloud Computing, private cloud

Think of a brand such as Revlon and words such as 'glamour' and 'excitement' are far more likely to come to mind than terms such as virtual machines and private Cloud infrastructure. Behind the alluring corporate image, however, senior vice-president and CIO, David Giambruno, and his team have enabled the business using a global private Cloud that runs across more than 100 countries and six continents.

"If you need lipstick, I'm your guy," he joked.

Speaking at VMware's VMworld 2011 event in Las Vegas, Giambruno outlined how the organisation's move to the private Cloud has saved the company $US70.4 million over the last two years and delivered uptime of 99.9999 per cent.

"The Cloud almost runs itself," he said. "Our Cloud makes 15,000 automated moves a month with no human intervention. We don't really have 'server people' anymore -- what used to take six to eight weeks to get a server in the data centre now takes five minutes. Our ratio of physical servers to virtual servers was 1:7. We're 1:34 this year. That's a 500 per cent increase in capacity, without cost."

Those savings are transferred to the organisation to develop new business, new products and advertising. Giambruno is pragmatic about the role technology plays in a manufacturing company that is a household name worldwide, referring to himself irreverently as "the help" rather than a part of the business that drives revenue.

"We have essentially taken the infrastructure out of the way of the business," he said. "VMware is the core of our Cloud; it is really the centre of our ecosystem of our partners and allows us to be very fast. Simplicity equals speed," he said. "Speed equals competitive advantage."

Ensuring systems work for people rather than making people work for the systems creates the necessary confidence between the lines of business and the CIO.

"We do pretty Cloud. We have to." One of Giambruno's well-worn catchphrases -- he has a few -- is "faster, cheaper, better". The IT department started the move to a private Cloud in 2005 and the systems went live globally in 2008. Then they started quantifying the benefits.

"In terms of faster, our project throughput globally is up 300 per cent in two years; we get more done for the business," he said.

"Better? We're running six nines uptime. We are a manufacturing company and we can do that, and it lets us turn forward and help the business."

As for cheaper, the $US70.4 million in cost avoidance and savings speaks for itself.

"And that wasn't me counting -- that was the finance department because my controller runs my life. We have a simple saying: Follow the money. And he follows every penny I spend."

Another Giambruno saying -- trust by verify -- typifies how the CIO runs the technology department.

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