Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud

Susan Nunziata, Director of Editorial | 11/9/2012 | 19 comments

Susan Nunziata
Would you like to have 531 applications supporting 3,000 users running in the cloud with 99.9999 percent uptime? Do you want to avoid spending around $70 million in the next two years?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then Dave Giambruno is the man to see. As SVP/CIO of Revlon, Giambruno built an internal private cloud that has transformed operations for the cosmetics manufacturer.

Giambruno is humble about his work. "I make lipstick. I do not have the regulatory complications that a lot of other companies have. We're a manufacturer," he said during a case study presentation at last month's Gartner Symposium/ITXpo.

While that may be the case, Giambruno's experiences and strategy hold lessons for manufacturers -- as well as other enterprises -- that do have tighter compliance and regulatory constraints.

Let's start with Giambruno's personal management philosophy: "My job is to make systems work for people, rather than people working for systems." In addition, he said, he looks to command technology to provide competitive advantage for business, and provide the company's management teams with the information they need to make good decisions.

Giambruno applied these five key principles for creating value for the business:

  • Increase capability
  • Increase agility and speed
  • Increase security
  • Enable consumerization
  • Reduce costs

It's from this foundation that Giambruno undertook the effort of moving the company's global operations into a private cloud infrastructure. Revlon IT is over 90 percent insourced, according to Giambruno. "I'm a huge proponent of owning the intellectual property my team uses," said Giambruno, who has enough certified developers on staff to make IT a business unto itself. "I can roll my team outside of Revlon and start a company."

IT operations are determinedly insourced. This approach has allowed Giambruno's team to build a global disaster recovery site in the US that replicates all sites around the world, eliminating 99 percent of external DR costs. DR test are conducted quarterly.

"I think I have seven physical servers left on Revlon, everything else is done in the cloud," said Giambruno. Those servers are running some legacy ERPs that Giambruno says will be "going away."

The project incorporates products from 11 vendors, including Aruba, Dell, Juniper, Microsoft, NetApp, and VMWare. Now in its second year of deployment, the results are already notable, including:

Speed and business alignment: 295 percent increase in the number of projects completed, compared to the period before the private cloud deployment.

Agility: 70 percent reduction in cycle time to deploy applications.

Green: 72 percent reduction in datacenter power consumption.

Simplicity: 531 applications now on the cloud, all but seven of these globally. In addition, the insourced disaster recovery setup reduced the number of steps to 10 required for activating DR anywhere around the world.

Self-management: capacity management and geographic management is automated, enabling auto build/destroy of servers in the cloud as well as auto-provisioning.

Automation: Applications make 15,000 "human-less" changes per month and process 14,000 transactions per second. In addition, 21 terabytes of data are replicated per week. There is no interaction required from IT for business activities, they use it as they need it.

Cost reduction/avoidance: $74.6 million in two years.

Satistfaction: business gets what they ask for, on time and on budget.

The project involved a massive 18-month data categorization effort that Giambruno described as "like chewing glass." The result is real-time data pushed to any device in a secure manner. "Apps never leave the datacenter, data never leaves the datacenter, data cannot be printed, screen shot, emailed unless explicitly allowed, " explained Giamburno. "We have the ability to encrypt the entire datacenter."

Next on the agenda for Giambruno's team is projecting storage and apps to the edge from the core. This would enable users to view apps via any device, regardless of location. In addition, the company's application portfolio will be reduced by 78 percent over the next two years, including the collapse of 21 ERPs into a single global instance.

In terms of user experience, Giambruno's team will move users from applications to a "marketplace" functionality. This would create an internal marketplace for users that will integrate mobile device management, mobile business intelligence, Active Directory, and trusted computing platforms.

"The streaming and viewing of apps is where the world is going to go," said Giambruno. "I can put it on an internal marketplace, [users] get their app, they're happy, and move on."

His views shake up some traditional IT perspectives. To Giambruno, everything is a file: "A server is a file, an app is a file, the data is a file. Physical infrastructure doesn't really matter. If you gave me a 2 petabyte key fob, I'd just load my datacenter on it. It's the frame of reference change, it commoditizes a lot of things people have spent a lot of time doing over the past 20 years."

One of the keys to making this ambitious undertaking work was breaking down the longstanding functional silos of servers, storage and networking -- with their very clearly defined roles and responsibilities for employees within the IT organization, according to Giambruno. The biggest challenge was in managing the changes among the staff and redistributing workloads.

"Technology is easy," said Giambruno. "People are hard. I tell [my people] 'You're a geek. I pay you to wield technology. Command the technology, use it effectively and figure out what it can and can't do.' "

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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Syerita Turner   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/25/2012 5:21:00 PM
Re: funny

Change is always good with technology. Using cloud capabilities to increase the growth of business is where it is at now days. Just to see this as being an increased presence on the cloud is good and shows that it is moving along the way it was intended to.
singlemud   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/19/2012 10:35:09 PM
Re: funny
So true. People lived in their comfort zone and are reluctant to change. It is good to see such a success use case
kstaron   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/14/2012 10:22:01 AM
What results have you seen?
The results revlon has seen by getting on the cloud is amazing. that data could really get some people on the fence excited about reworking their system to the cloud. for others that have switched to mainly the cloud a revlon has, what results have you seen?
Henrisha   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/14/2012 3:15:41 AM
Re: principles
Agreed. These are five pretty generic (or general) principles that is applicable is most fields and industries nowadays. What's interesting is how Giambruno went from making lipstick to setting up an internal private cloud. Kudos to him (and good for Revlon!)
soozyg   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/13/2012 11:19:00 AM
Re: principles
@ Susan, I just think it's, i don't know, rhetorical maybe that he listed those things as his principles. Kind of like a biz listing "make a profit" as their goal. But I guess those 5 principles are key and do have to be constantly repeated--especially for those human beings that get in the way! And I guess I'm just used to hearing them so much on here that I assume them! (I can't seem to come up with a metaphor to continue with the beating....)

soozyg   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/13/2012 11:06:35 AM
Re: funny

When I think of who's getting in the way, tho, I actually think it's the non-IT decisions makers. In my past, the IT people were happy to take on challenging projects and create awesome solutions. It was the decision-makers that got in the way of IT. But that was back before the dot coms.....
Susan Nunziata   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/12/2012 8:40:52 PM
Re: Global DR
@Hammad: Do you agree then with Giambruno's comment: Physical infrastructure doesn't really matter. ?
Susan Nunziata   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/12/2012 8:39:10 PM
Re: How many shades of red do we need anyway?
@LuFu: would love to know if other cosmetics companies are this advanced, I certainly never thought much about the IT infrastructure behind my lipstick choices. If we can get Estee Lauder or any other cosmetics firms to share their IT stories you'll be the first to know. Meanwhile, for those Trivia buffs among us: Anyone know the name of the town in which Ms. Estee Lauder was born and raised? (no Googling, kids, let's keep it fair).
Susan Nunziata   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/12/2012 8:33:18 PM
Re: Global DR
@Keith: Thank you. Yes, Giambruno is very diligent about DR. I did not have space in the article to relate his tale of what happened in 2011 when a fire damaged a substantial portion of Revlon's Venezuela facility. All the DR testing paid off, according to Giambruno: In one hour and 45 minutes we moved data while the factory in Venezuela was burning; we had the Venezuela data center running in DR. We spun up hundreds of virtual desktops and sent out Riverbed mobile so our employees could get to work, communicate, and focus on business. This was executed fully remotely out of the [company's Edison] NJ facility.
Susan Nunziata   Revlon CIO Puts Lipstick on the Cloud   11/12/2012 8:24:55 PM
Re: principles
@soozyg: As with any list of principles, it's one thing to say them and another to put them into practice. In my experience, many companies echo these principles on paper but when it comes to where the rubber meets the road, that list of principles gets thrown out of the vehicle window. And then, inevitably, the tires fall off at some point down the highway (forgive me for beating the metaphor to death here).
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