The internal benefits have been clear. The company is consolidating nine data centers into two, which will cut IT infrastructure costs by 30% through the elimination of 1,000 servers. It will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 16,800 tons (the equivalent of taking 3,350 cars off the road), helping the company achieve its 2050 goal to reduce total energy consumption by 87.5%.
But Winham now sees the cloud as a revenue-generator for Ricoh's services arm. One of the first cloud-based apps it developed internally--an electronic invoicing system in line with the European Commission's newest push to regulate invoicing across the European Union. "That moved up the agenda in the infrastructure project as something that has real value for ourselves and our customers," Winham says.
It's a new approach that Winham is bringing to Ricoh. "If we're going to build something for ourselves, there has to be a value chain for us both internally and externally," Winham says. Besides "It's embarrassing when you're selling a solution that you're not using yourselves. You look stupid."
Navigating the European regulatory environment has been the most difficult part of moving to the cloud, says Winham. "The data protection directive is interpreted differently in every country so you have to figure out what standard you should apply while also staying up to speed with your customers," Winham says.
Legislation regarding the location of financial data is even trickier. Ricoh had to get approval from the government of Luxemburg before it could decommission its data center there. "I never want to build a data center in Luxemburg again," Winham says. "Those nuances are the real pain. And it has nothing to do with the actual technology."
Of course, having figured out how to navigate the difficult terrain, Winham sees a new service line there as well--helping customers set up private clouds in Europe. "You've got to eat what you sell, and we've developed a lot of experience. One of the things we're looking to do is work out where the synergies are between Ricoh, Infosys and other partners to bring those skills to bear," says Winham. "Anyone can deliver the infrastructure or make it secure, but the process of how you do that within your business is key."