Arun Prakash Goyal
Sr VP - IT
Insights of Your Company and its IT Straregies
We are a publishing services company with over 30 years of relevant experience with major publishers worldwide. We help publishers navigate this new market with high-quality solutions designed to transform and enrich their content for print, online and mobile media. We handle everything from the production of publishers’ book, journal, or magazine right through to subscription management and BPO services. Our expertise spans digital publishing, interactive learning and multimedia, and creative design. The number of employees is about 1900 and IT Infrastructure management staff is about 35 and application software development staff is about 60. Apart from this, we have IT product development team of about 60 persons.
We’ve developed a suite of technology solutions designed to introduce efficiencies into the production workflow and help cut costs. IT Strategy is to help publishers make the digital transition. Publishers and corporate entities looking to shape their digital strategies turn to MPS to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by digital media, from eBooks to eLearning.
IT also continually scans the new technology landscape and bring the technology inside after doing cost benefits analysis and doing POC to reduce the cost of operations and help the business units to win more business.
Views on Cloud and Virtualization
Moving to AWS cloud platform gave the right path to our success for the business and future endeavors. It gave us greater cost effectiveness, scalability and flexibility.
As cloud computing is a technology which came into existence recently not many people are equipped in it, hence support remained a major challenge for us which includes a proper guidance of what all tools to be implemented to optimize things and result into a good end-solution for us. Until we decided to go with a direct support from AWS, the vendors who tried to support us ended up into lot of rework and a financial loss for us to some extent.
Also there was a challenge with the lack of input of knowledge and guidance to us which resulted into a factual knowledge “we would not be able to convert our current RHEL instances to reserved instances” which would save us a lot and might bring our current invoices to one-third. The solution for this which as chosen by us is to convert all our instances to Amazon Linux with the instances suggested by the AWS team, this includes lot of initial effort from the IT team (even more than what we did during our shift from Reston to AWS).
Keeping Pace with New Technologies
I take time to learn about the various technologies, applications and program software in the market today that is commonly used. I attend different seminars, workshops organized by vendors and various technology forums. I also read various magazines about the technologies.
I take advantage of social media platforms like Twitter/ Facebook/ LinkedIn and other IT related forums in order to expand the learning experiences. I ensure that I do not focus myself on a single technological advancement and explore more options.
IT Infrastructure management staff is about 35 engineers which includes the L1 L3 and the senior staffs and application software development staff is about 60. Apart from this, we have IT product development team of about 60 persons.
Biggest Pain Point
The biggest pain areas faced by us is on the daily support services handled by the helpdesk with most of the calls related to desktops/Laptops/and applications becoming slow due to various reasons like the hardware configuration not sufficient to handle some of the newer applications or the latest Operating systems requires the higher configuration of the CPU/RAM/HDD .
The IT Hardware equipment like servers/SAN/NAS gets absolute in a shorter span of time as they become incompatible for the latest apps to work on them.
The next major concern is with the ISP’s where there is a business requirement to have an uptime on the internet and the P2P links with 100%.
Another major concern is with the data handling of the organization where the data growth is more and takes space on the SAN/NAS devices. Also, it is difficult identify the end users who is owning the data to scavenge their oldest data and shrink or delete them to make a comfortable space.
Changing user needs – Organizations are constantly evolving for responding to customer needs and positioning their systems to meet future market demand. This evolution translates into technology changes to respond to new usage patterns and end user requirements. As the system changes, however, problems often follow. Changing usage patterns will force traffic from one server to another and from one part of a user-facing application to another. Systems that are too complex or too difficult to maintain cause downtime and, therefore, pain. Battling this technology evolution has become a regular activity for system administrators and a leading cause of system downtime.
Upgrades, patches and versioning – Another source of downtime is component upgrades. New component versions are released regularly, and many organizations update their systems to better meet demands of internal users and customers. Patches are also an eventuality of software-based solutions. We have to deploy patches on a regular basis to keep their infrastructure secure. Patch deployments, however, sometime lead to downtime in several ways. One is the downtime involved in actually deploying the patch. The most costly outages though are caused by the incompatibility of newly patched applications with other system components. We have procedures in place to test patches and updates pre-deployment, but the urgency of many security patches means that updates must be deployed before thorough compatibility testing can be performed. Incompatible upgrades and patches sometime cause many unforeseen side effects, among the worst of which is downtime.
Technology to Address Pain Points
Yes, considering today’s emerging technological development on the virtual and cloud services, we are confident that we will be able to fill the gaps.
Slowdown Impact on IT
Innovation has been a part of today IT strategy and to drive innovations across all functions that includes IT Infrastructure services / Facility Management/ Security services. For instance, the current virtual technologies/ cloud computing /thin client etc. have been adopted.
A slowdown comes every few years; it is part of the business cycle. For us, the slowdown was about measures to ensure that we stayed alive as a company, and now, a year-and-a-half later when things are heading back to normal, we are still around. Concurrently, we figured we could undertake initiatives that our weaker competitors could not. When the upturn begins, we are sure that we will come out stronger than the competition.
Currently we are not having any challenges in securing our information since we have a robust security system in terms of networking / firewall / system level and application level.
Adoption of Cloud in the Organization
When we were to add new servers to replace the old lot, we stared to work on moving the physical to cloud based servers. The key factors considered were Hardware/ software/ licensing /Systems Mgmt. Cost, Scalability and reliability. We considered options like buying our own servers, Buying private dedicated cloud and other public cloud. We had provided a proper justification report comparing different solutions, the POC and other benefits of moving physical to the cloud. We did the POC of the solutions considered before selecting AWS. Currently, we have migrated a part of our datacentre and found it to be very cost effective. We would like to take it forward for some more IT Infrastructure.
The key concerns of the hosted environment are the cost control and the manageability.
Role of Cloud in Securing IT System
Yes, security was a major concern, which was been cleared by having a detailed study of AWS solution. We found that it has most of the audit requirements in place and has very stringent security policies which can take care of our data.
Expansion of IT Budget
This purely depends on the business growth comparison with the past.
IT Leader - Manager or Technologist
It’s important to understand that IT leader needs to be the “alpha tech” in the office and needs to be business leader. After all, except in very small organizations, the IT leader probably won’t be configuring switches, creating LUNs on a SAN or making sure that VMware is configured to fail over. However, the IT Leader should: Know what is and is not possible - to a reasonable extent - with the network hardware on hand.
While the IT leader must speak the language of the business in order to be taken seriously, without the respect of the IT staff, getting behind the IT leader may be difficult. Most IT people want to work for someone that understands their daily work, what it really takes to get a job done and appreciates the effort and challenges that are inherent in the work.
- Understand - at least at a basic level - what it means to create a LUN and how much capacity there is in the organization.
- Realize that VMware can be configured for automated failover to meet disaster recovery requirements.
ROI on Technological Investment
On the cloud computing perspective our capital expense is zero. While, our operating expenses reduced by 20% by moving some of our servers to the cloud services.
Anticipating New Technologies
We would be interested on virtual office and a working environment, virtual classroom for students and teachers which would ideally reduce the road traffic and would definitely increase the cloud traffic where the technology would be emerging over IT expenses compromising with fuel and public movers.
Relationship Between a CIO and a CEO
I love interacting with CEOs (including my own CEO); they are the better barometer of IT progress and use within their company than the CIO is. As the primary leader of the enterprise, s/he sets the behavioral norms and culture of the company. Their belief system percolates down the spine of the company influencing processes, process discipline, technology deployment and use, risk behavior and finally the cohesiveness of the Executive Committee that runs the company.
Advice or Suggestions
Always look for new and better ways to operate, and innovation through technology which can help your organization to get in the forefront and keep it there. Maintain a balance between budgets and new technology, as well as between reliability and high technology.