Delmar International has grown quickly through acquisitions around the globe, but with that growth came limited agility related to the challenges of managing and maintaining multiple data centers with disparate data analytics, development and ERP applications.Solutions Cloud, Cloud Management & Operations, Applications, Application Management & Operations, Digital Experience Platforms Applications, Microsoft Office 365, Cloud, Microsoft Azure
Growing globally while preserving local partnerships
Over the course of 53 years, Delmar International Inc. has grown from a small customs broker in Montreal to an international customs and logistics service provider with 1,500 employees in 45 offices around the world.
Expansion via mergers and acquisitions is nothing new in the world of logistics. But while expanding around the world in an industry as partner-centric as logistics, the leadership at Delmar International believes it has to earn its place at the community table through careful stewardship of its local offices.
“Each of our overseas entities has local partners,” said Ron McIntyre, CTO of Delmar International. “So, when we acquire a company in a new region, we work hard to ensure that we’re not only being consistent with the Delmar brand and the Delmar corporate culture, but that we’re also being considerate and respectful of cultural mores and requirements,” he added. As part of its commitment to local cultures, Delmar International has extensive involvement in local philanthropy.
To McIntyre, as a CTO, part of that consistency means making sure it’s still easy for local partners to engage with Delmar International through familiar technologies, when possible. And as the company acquires more and more new employees, it’s looking for new and better ways to integrate disparate IT systems.
Shifting mindsets in a successful business
By virtue of its presence in the U.S., Canada, China, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, and Mexico, as well as new locations in Brazil, Delmar International has seen a lot of growth and success over the years. And it has maintained that success with a relatively small IT staff of approximately 40 people.
This staff divides responsibilities for network and data center infrastructure management, security, legacy system development, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Power BI, web development apps and some smaller development niches associated with its legacy systems. But with the manpower required to manage and monitor all of this, Delmar International can foresee some challenges coming down the road.
“We wanted to own everything,” McIntyre said. “We didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone else be part of our technology ecosystem. But there is a downside to this approach, with penalties that include a lack of scalability and agility.” McIntyre added that oversight of corporate governance and business continuity planning would become more and more challenging over time, and that the technology landscape Delmar International was locked into wasn’t conducive to growth.
“As the CTO, my biggest goal is helping to lead Delmar into the next phase of growth,” McIntyre said. “Delmar was a traditional type of technology shop that grew up in the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s, which is to say it was inward-centric. Technology wasn’t about enablement — it was about making sure that no one did things that they shouldn’t be doing.”
The shift away from inward-looking IT to a model that allows for growth required a shift in thinking. “My personal belief is that the heads of IT can no longer be the biggest geeks in a company,” McIntyre said. “IT leaders have to be business leaders — they have to be focused on product and service enablement.
“My biggest challenge was convincing people that we needed to evolve,” McIntyre said. “What got us here was great — we’ve seen a lot of success with it. But what got us here is no longer sufficient for the growth we want to experience moving forward. Do I really want to throw more money at infrastructure that’s near its end of life? Or do I want something better — something that’s going to give us stability, agility and scalability, while allowing me to offload some work from my overloaded staff?”
“With the help of Rackspace Technology, we were able to come up with a technology stack that is usable and sustainable no matter where we need to deploy it.”
Taking the cloud for a test drive
When Delmar International started experiencing degraded application performance, McIntyre started troubleshooting the ecosystems within his infrastructure. But he and his team couldn’t find a solution to their performance challenges, so McIntyre decided to move an application to Microsoft Azure as a proof of concept.
“We moved that exact same application out into the Azure Cloud, on a VM that was less robust and not provisioned as well as the VM that we were running within our local environment,” McIntyre said. “All of a sudden, reports that had been timing out in 1,200 seconds were now running in 12 seconds. It was a light-bulb moment that, again, pointed to issues with our infrastructure. Were we overprovisioning our VM? Was there something that we didn’t know about?”
He added, “We were so subscribed and oversubscribed that we were at a saturation level that was unacceptable. We had to augment our infrastructure at a time when it wasn’t prudent to spend more money inside our data center.”
By upgrading and modernizing their infrastructure, Delmar was able reduce their report run times from 20 minutes to only 12 seconds.
Seeking a partner for growth
“We want to be a global leader not just in terms of our services, but also in terms of our technology,” McIntyre said. “We have to make a shift away from legacy systems, and toward more global platforms. And to make that shift successfully, we need to have buy-in from every level of company leadership.”
In addition to internal buy-in, McIntyre needed a partner he could trust. That’s when he went to his CEO to discuss moving away from legacy infrastructure and into the cloud.
“We started looking at Rackspace Technology for numerous reasons,” McIntyre said. “I didn’t necessarily want to focus on the public cloud because that would’ve required that my staff continue to focus on maintaining and servicing that infrastructure.”
McIntyre said that instead of focusing on a specific solution first, he really wanted to proceed based on his company needs. “Rackspace Technology has this omni-platform footprint that allowed us to go to them with every single one of our projects and say, ‘How can you help us?’”
He added, “With the help of Rackspace Technology, and especially the applications team, we were able to come up with a technology stack that is usable and sustainable no matter where we need to deploy it. Rackspace Technology is also cognizant of the fact that we don’t need to rip out legacy systems in a company that we’ve acquired.”
Moving forward with Rackspace Technology
Through its partnership with Rackspace Technology, Delmar International is positioning itself for future growth while instilling confidence and minimizing the impact on local partners affiliated with acquisitions.
McIntyre and his team have numerous plans that require the engagement and support of Rackers. Rackspace Technology is currently migrating and supporting its Microsoft Dynamics ERP workflow, including all supporting custom applications, and migrating Delmar International’s Microsoft Exchange footprint to Office 365. McIntyre also has plans for a global BI data analytics backbone and a global data warehouse.
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