Transforming a global manufacturing powerhouse, like Southwire, to a cloud provider is a significant decision. But with 30 years of experience in IT and manufacturing to pull from, Dan Stuart knew the right questions to ask to drive the right decision for Southwire as it navigated a cyberattack, refreshed its hardware, and was in growth mode. As a result, in July 2020, Southwire migrated its SAP environment to Google Cloud Platform, setting a benchmark in the industry for successfully moving an entrenched manufacturing business to the cloud.
“Southwire is building a foundation for growth and innovation with the cloud, beginning with the migration of its core SAP business systems and services to Google Cloud,” said Rob Enslin, President at Google Cloud. “We’re proud that Southwire has selected Google Cloud to power its digital transformation.”
But how was that decision made? Weren’t there concerns about the business, and more importantly, how secure is it? C2C sat down with Stuart, the senior vice president of IT services at Southwire.
“So, I was looking at security, scalability, and modernization of our whole industry, which needed to be fast, flexible, and agile,” Stuart recounted. “But I also wanted to replace our current data centers and move into a more standard Cloud Platform cloud environment, and Google was the right one for us.”
A bright brick backyard offset Stuart’s tall frame and created a perfect yellow hue surrounding him, perhaps the light or his proud disposition; Stuart’s confidence in the decision beamed through the Google Meet window. After all, the decision was tough and occurred at an even more challenging time for Southwire, but it proved to be profoundly beneficial, especially when it came to security.
“When it comes to security, and you look at the competition out there, Google surpasses,” Stuart said. “From the encryption piece of it, right up and down to their security monitoring, they know what they’re doing.”
Google Cloud truly does take security seriously. Their data centers are built with custom-designed servers that run their own operating systems for security and performance. With more than 500 security engineers, Google also has the best minds focused on thwarting risks and is focused on continuous improvement.
“As we all know, security just keeps getting more complicated and complicated, and having a partner like Google that you know will stay on top of their game is exactly what we needed,” Stuart said.
Completing the Migration
To complete the migration, Southwire ran through four major cycles of testing, which occurred over more than ten weeks and involved more than 4,000 scripts. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they did the entire operation remotely via conference calls and Microsoft® Teams.
The move to Google Cloud will ensure that Southwire remains up to date on the latest supported systems, improves security protocols, and provides a solid foundation for future upgrades, tools, and services to benefit both the organization and its customers.
“By moving the SAP environment to Google Cloud, this creates a secure, flexible and scalable environment for Southwire to embark on new projects that move the company forward in areas of strategy important to the long-term growth of the company,” Stuart said.
Making the Decision
Beyond Google Cloud Platform’s reputation, there were a handful of critical decisions and lessons learned. Among them, which will be shared in more detail in the upcoming Navigator, Stuart said the ability to have a fast and seamless migration was the most important.
As they prepared to migrate, the Google Cloud Platform move wasn’t the only major IT project happening. They updated the enhancement pack, the process orchestrator, updated to BW/4HANA.
“We didn’t miss a production beat,” Stuart said with emphasis. “We kept on track of our outages at our manufacturing shops, and everything went seamless. Google brought the support; they put the people that needed to be there on this team from the beginning, middle, and at the end.”
The 71-year-old manufacturing business just made history.
Despite not having any Google experience, they were able to make it happen, and it’s been proven to be a wise decision.
Google provided training, education, and a strong governance program, too. But, setting up a governance program earlier in the process is one lesson Stuart can offer others making a lift and shift like this,
“Make sure you got the governance in place, make sure you got the right architects helping you build your bill of materials for your deployment of Google and get that training and education upfront for your associates,” Stuart said. “It'll make them more relaxed at knowing what Google's doing, why they're doing it, and what they can expect, and it's helped set the expectations.”
Stuart sits down with Chief Customer Officer Sean Chinkski for a C2C Navigators discussion on May 18. Register below and bring your questions; Stuart will be answering them live.