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From data center to cloud with compressed timeline and non-negotiable deadline

DuPont Capital Management

DuPont Capital Cloud Migration

Migrating to the cloud

  • Category: Financial Services

DuPont Capital Management (DCM) is a subsidiary of Corteva Agriscience, which has operated as a registered investment manager for nearly 20 years. The firm now manages investments for clients across a range of business domains.

DCM’s office lease was due to expire, and management decided to move DCM into a building already leased by Corteva. DCMs information technology (IT) department, a completely separate function from Corteva's IT department, would need to move the company's digital assets to the new location.

A key challenge was that the new space could not accommodate the on-premises data center and its servers. It was time to move to the cloud. With Corteva IT already in the cloud with the Microsoft Azure platform, DCM IT would create a home for itself on the same platform with support from Corteva's Cloud team.

Challenges: Time, Scope, Expertise

Any move from a data center to the cloud is challenging. Security, time, and cost are just a few of the common road bumps businesses can experience. In DCM’s case, the team faced additional hurdles:

  • A compressed timeline. To avoid a roll-over of the lease which would have extended DCM’s commitment to continue paying for its building, the move had to be completed by the lease expiration date, which was year-end.
  • The need for complete separation. Though DCM would leverage Corteva’s Azure cloud platform, as a financial business it was imperative that all data and apps be completely and securely separate from Corteva.
  • Limited cloud experience in DCM’s IT. DCM IT had limited exposure to the cloud platform and minimal time to learn alongside their “day jobs.” This meant that along with moving from on-prem to cloud, the team would need training in the new environment.
  • Limited bandwidth to support the move. Corteva IT has extensive Azure expertise, but the DCM migration was not accounted for in their annual capacity planning so there was limited bandwidth to support and train the DCM IT team.
  • A non-negotiable deadline. A mid-December weekend was the only time transition to the cloud could be accomplished. As a financial company, DCM had to close on Friday using the data center and open on Monday using the cloud—without anyone noticing the difference.
  • Business Application landscape. Commercial off-the-shelf applications and legacy database platforms are typical in the Financial Sector and present project risk factors that require extensive and broad expertise to mitigate.
  • Integrated Systems. Complex interdependent systems require careful orchestration of the migration sequence.

Proactive Solutions: Collaboration

With the short timeframe, limited access to in-house expertise, and the impending deadline, DCM brought Kin + Carta into the project during the early stages given the DCM and Corteva IT departments’ knowledge of Kin + Carta’s familiarity with Corteva’s Azure cloud environment and extensive knowledge in a range of solutions.

Kin + Carta applied their Azure expertise and knowledge of the particular requirements in the financial sector to anticipate issues for DCM and proactively offer solutions. They also provided insights about future improvements that could take full advantage of the cloud and benefit DCM’s IT and business functions.

The company coached and enabled in-house staff to operate successfully post-transition. Given the compressed timeline, training took place on the job, working alongside DCM and Corteva engineers toward successful completion.

Outcome: Foundation for Future Opportunity

Somewhat like plumbing or electricity, IT components aren’t noticed until something doesn’t work. When DCM opened on the Monday after transition, IT worked smoothly. People were able to do their jobs just like they had the week before. When the significant IT infrastructure changes went unnoticed among the DCM users, the project team noticed that no one perceived a change despite all that was required to get the job done and marked this as a badge of success.

The move to Azure resulted in a 25 percent reduction in the number of virtual machines and has cut infrastructure costs by a third. DCM IT now is in a good position to implement improvements that take full advantage of the cloud environment. Management plans to launch modernization efforts over the next few years that are expected to continue costs savings. DCM’s previous planned capital investments, such as an imminent SAN replacement project, also have been avoided contributing to cost savings.

DCM IT management is confident disaster recovery capabilities also have significantly improved in comparison to those available in the self-hosted server environment. Moving to the cloud removed the need to send someone to physically archive and backup tapes, which resulted in the elimination of DCM’s smaller, but redundant, disaster recovery data center and added to DCM’s cost savings.

And, perhaps most significant, this project now has opened up more professional possibilities for the IT staff. Rather than having to attend to day-to-day commodity-type tasks which the cloud environment now handles, team members have opportunities to engage in new and challenging initiatives that further improve IT’s contribution to the company.

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