How Rentokil drives business innovation with Google Cloud VMware engine
The pest control specialist is using the cloud and a range of VMware technologies to ensure employees across the organisation can scale-up IT resources on-demand.
Rentokil is using VMware technology to support a safe and secure move to the cloud that’s helping to boost staff productivity and business agility.
Ed Higgs, Group Director of IT shared services at Rentokil, explains that his company is investing in technology platforms that create a standardized and reliable platform for product innovation, such as using IoT-connected traps at client sites to spot signs of infestation automatically.
in this, VMware plays a crucial role in the company’s technology stack. Rentokil has been using the virtualization platform vSphere for about 10 years. The company also uses the device and application management platform Workspace ONE and the endpoint protection technology Carbon Black.
Other technologies used by the business include VMware SD-WAN, the hyper-converged infrastructure technology VSAN and the network virtualization and security platform NSX. Two months ago, VMware moved its EMEA data center to the infrastructure-as-a- service platform Google Cloud VMware Engine.
The adoption of VMware technology at Rentokil has been a continual process that has almost happened by stealth, according to Higgs:
We were a customer of Carbon Black before they were acquired. We were an AirWatch customer before they were acquired and turned into Workspace ONE. I guess this shows we had the same ethos – we liked these tools and so did VMware, and then we ended up on the same journey.
In terms of the move to Google Cloud VMware Engine, Rentokil had been looking to move its workload to the cloud for several years, but the business was keen to avoid a big transformation project, where it would have to recreate all its servers on a new cloud platform. Google Cloud VMware Engine provided the right solution to the challenge, says Higgs:
Every time we've had a hardware recycle coming up, we've looked at whether there’s a better option in the cloud. But it had always been cost-prohibitive. It always meant too much work in terms of the transformation of the environment. So, Google Cloud VMware Engine was what we were waiting for. And the success of the migration process was testament to that approach.
The team started planning for the move to Google Cloud VMware Engine about 10 months ago. Rentokil’s UK hosting provider then went into administration during this planning period and his team had to expedite the pace of the shift significantly. The result was the completion of a data center migration in just four months, which would normally have taken 12 to 18 months:
The only reason that we could do that was because of the technology. It was literally, ‘right click, highlight 20 servers, move’. And the next morning, it was done. No downtime, no outage, perfect. It was all up and running.
Higgs says the company’s shift to the cloud is important because it allows him to make more effective use of IT resources and to ensure his staff are focused on activities that deliver value to the business, such as the innovative use of data and the IoT:
Having people doing overtime at weekends and in the evenings patching the hardware environment is an absolute necessity, of course, but it doesn't add intrinsic value to the business – it isn’t a differentiator. What we want to be doing is focus our workforce higher up the stack and deliver innovations that are really going to make a difference to our customers.
Another benefit is agility. Previously, if people on the product team wanted to develop a new solution, they were limited by the amount of hardware resources they could access. Now, with the cloud, they can scale-up new resources on-demand. Higgs explains:
We don’t want to have to say, ‘I'm sorry, we've run out of space, come back to us in three months and we'll have a new server in place.’ We're not bound by those limitations anymore. Within 24 hours, we can start provisioning new solutions.
Refining the stack
When it comes to the other VMware products that Rentokil uses as part of its technology stack, Higgs cites Carbon Black as a “big one” for the company. Rentokil is a fast-growing business and part of his team’s role is to ensure systems and data from newly purchased firms are quickly and securely integrated into the wider organisation. The team uses Carbon Black endpoint protection to ensure this integration process is completed effectively:
What we do now, from day one of any acquisition, is that we enforce the implementation of Carbon Black. And immediately – 99 times out of 100 – we get reassurance that everything's all right. And that one time out of 100 when we need to act, we get very quick visibility of anything we need to do to make sure that the new business is secure.
Higgs also refers to Rentokil’s implementation of Workspace ONE, which he says provides a much higher level of visibility and control. The company used to have to rely on time-intensive manual audits of its estate to ensure devices had the right security patches applied. Higgs points to the approval for investment into Workspace ONE as a game-changer:
We use that platform across all our devices globally. And now we can see where we've got issues, we can make sure everything's patched on time, and I can look the CEO in the eyes and say, ‘Yeah, we're in a good position'.
Higgs says Workspace ONE makes it easier to manage the provisioning and updating of group-wide apps on an ongoing basis. He gives the example of new entrants to the firm – his team use the platform to ensure employees have access to the right applications quickly. More generally, he adds, the wide portfolio of VMware tools used by Rentokil gives the business a strong foundation for technology-enabled change:
With our desire and ability to be early adopters, the relationship with VMware has really given us some big benefits, especially as the applications we originally implemented are now part of the same company, as opposed to lots of different technology companies.