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Godrej Secures Its Future With The Cloud

by Vivek on September 8, 2015

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Since its origins in 1897 as a lock manufacturer, the Godrej Group has gone on to firmly establish itself as one of India’s most trusted brands. Godrej Industries and Associated Companies called GILAC majorly operate in five different industry verticals – chemicals, real estate, agriculture, food, and consumer products. Godrej enjoys the patronage of over 600 million consumers in India alone with a significant chunk of business coming from overseas. Over the years Godrej has been bold with its business strategies, and it was no surprise seeing them becoming an early Cloud adopter. Shailesh Joshi has served as the CIO at Godrej for the last six years. Having worked for 25 years, 15 of which were in IT, has seen him take the organization to new heights as Godrej focuses on fulfilling its ‘Vision 2020’ objective of scaling the company 10x before 2020. Shailesh, who has tasted success with brands like Tata, Johnson, and Shell in the past, discusses how moving to the Cloud has supported Godrej’s progress.

“I was one of the first CIOs invited for the launch of O365,” begins Shailesh. Shailesh was always convinced
that working on the Cloud was the future – the way forward. In his exact words, he – like many other CIOs – was ‘gung ho’ about its arrival to the subcontinent, leading to Godrej becoming one of the early adopters of Cloud. This decision was made easier by Godrej already having an enterprise agreement with Microsoft. However, just like with any culture change, discernment is the key. Shailesh wasn’t going to jump onto the Cloud bandwagon without testing the waters first. “We started with email,” he says, “then slowly adopted the rest of the platform.”

Easy Choices
Although Shailesh was convinced about the advantages of O365, it was necessary to test alternatives too. His research showed that no other Cloud provider could match the same services at an enterprise level. Additionally, considering Godrej’s international presence, scalability too was a factor. “Our Vision 2020 objectives will see us acquire several companies around the world. And with O365, I won’t need to worry about upgrading systems wherever we go. O365 would enable us to acquire a company today and give all new employees a new email ID tomorrow. It is that simple,” says Shailesh. Moreover, Microsoft’s familiar and user-friendly interface meant Godrej wouldn’t be disturbing the natural system in the company and training wouldn’t be required. Thus, opting for O365 was a no brainer for Godrej.

Early Hiccups
The Cloud was uncharted territory in India back then. However, Microsoft had multiple success stories from companies all over the world. And if it worked everywhere else, Shailesh was sure it could do wonders for industries in India too.

“Our Cloud journey began three years ago in phases and eventually all employees were on the Cloud,” says Shailesh.
However, their active directory and other tools were still on-premise. This brought about the first challenge – In the initial stages, syncing the on-Cloud functions and on-premise tools was difficult.

Secondly a prompt support agreement signed with Microsoft rectified the major challenge when Godrej faced
huge multiple outage issues. “Although we weren’t aware of the need of signing this support agreement in the initial
stages, and therefore hadn’t allocated funds for the same, post the agreement we haven’t had any issues so far,”
says Shailesh.

One Step At A Time
Adoption of Outlook was a speedy process with minimal hindrance. But Lync, Microsoft’s instant messaging service
for enterprises, didn’t quite take-off as expected. “Microsoft was aware of this and once we signed the support
agreement, we were given extra credits to make up for the initial stages,” says Shailesh. Godrej has now also gone ahead with Microsoft’s Enterprise Social Network tool Yammer, and is currently developing an intranet on Sharepoint. This goes to show that, with some persistence, it is easy to adopt the Cloud and the good it is doing for Godrej.

Immediate Gains
“We considered many nuances of the Cloud versus hosting an on-premise solution – increasing bandwidth, license
pricing, upgrade requirements, and server refreshments – and concluded that the Cloud was the best solution for our requirements.”

Talking about the migration to the Cloud, Shailesh comments, “We weren’t required to buy any new servers.” This
was a big boon as Godrej didn’t need to invest in any infrastructure whatsoever. Everything was handled by Microsoft. The only concern Godrej had to address was increasing the internet bandwidth, so as to accommodate the new dependence on the Cloud – a forecasted expense. Thus the TCO for adoption was much more viable and the economic returns were immediate. Additionally, speedy upgrades and latest software meant two less things for Shailesh to worry about.

Learnings
Through adoption and migration to the Cloud, Shailesh has some valuable feedback.

  • Firstly, don’t be in a hurry. Shailesh recommends that CIOs take their time testing the suite thoroughly before making any decisions
  • Shailesh maintains that it is essential to test it in one’s own environment. As seen by Godrej, Lync worked
    everywhere else, but surprisingly took time to function within Godrej’s set-up
  • Evaluate deeper intricacies so that the entire end-user experience is hassle free
  • Lastly, he says, it’s important to check whether the suite can work in sync with the on-premise active directory

At times moving to the Cloud may have some challenges, but Godrej’s story tells us that the Cloud is really the way forward. For this, Microsoft and Godrej worked together as a team and Shailesh’s leap of faith in Cloud paid off. Godrej’s Vision 2020 objective is well on track, and has even been accelerated by Shailesh’s decision to migrate the entire company to the Cloud. Shailesh contently remarks, “Now, I’m happy.”

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