A Coast-To-Coast Merger and Redefined Systems Births a New Hybrid IT Market Leader
In a world with an irrefutable appetite for data, two data center firms, one based in Denver, CO and the other in Charlotte, NC, merged in 2017 to become the market leader in hybrid IT solutions in Northern America. Despite its new branding, this organization has a 20-year history helping data-intensive businesses transform their IT departments from a cost center to an asset – promising innovation, improve speed to market, and lower risk.
The enterprise has a robust suite of satellite companies, spanning over 20 domestic and international markets, 40 data centers, 10,000 cross-connects, and 13 cloud nodes. This footprint encompasses 31 industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, technology, financial, retail, and logistics. As you can imagine, this global reach also requires the team to support co-location, cloud, and network point of presence (PoP) capabilities, as well as support over 1,000 dedicated employees, and promise steadfast service reliability for their 5,000+ customers.
This promise demands more than just a technical infrastructure. It means connecting the technical with the personal and ensuring that customers feel valued every step of the way.
Putting Their Customers First: How One Merger Offered an Opportunity to Break Away from Legacy Processes and Systems
For the team, this merger served as a time of reflection, allowing the two firms the time to realize their pain points. It also forced the newly united organization to form new process and decide how they could work together, ultimately to create a unified solution targeted at delivering outcomes and top-notch service for their growing, joint customer base. They had to ask themselves, how can we create the best experience for our customers to ensure they have the answers where and when they need them?
With the lofty goal, the project included its unique challenges. While one half of the merged organization was mature with ServiceNow, the other needed further education. And the differences of the organization’s didn’t just stop at the technical maturity: they also embraced fundamentally different operating models. One was process-heavy and disciplined while the other was more autonomous and individualistic.
One of the largest obstacles towards unification was the fact that the former East Coast data center used ServiceNow’s ITSM solution to solve for their Customer Service needs. However, that instance had some structural challenged for the new merge. Prior to ServiceNow’s CSM solution being invented, they operated in a domain separated IT environment, with over 2,400 domains, inhibiting their ability to scale effectively and proving to be costly. In order to ensure maintainability, upgradeability, and scalability in the future, the organization required a single, non-domain separated instance.
Bringing the two companies processes and assets together would require more than just an “implementer”. They needed a ServiceNow consultancy, one who would be able to guide the merging organization not only through the technical part of a project rollout but also the “people” and “process” portions, too.
By starting with a rock-solid foundation and reorganizing ServiceNow ITSM and building out a risk-free CSM solution, the two organizations could then consolidate their data centers without having room for error (or headaches) typical of their previous, domain separated environment.
Additionally, the organization looked to:
- Add GRC and SecOps to improve the existing level of security
- Migrate and enhance their ITSM solution with best practices to dramatically improve their ability to audit, protect, and secure internal and external customer data, improve process
- Improve process visibility and automation of common requests by enabling more efficient overall operation and platform management with ServiceNow
- Maintain a robust, secure integration to Salesforce and other high priority applications to ensure key data continued to flow and be leveraged in light of their merge, and therefore, changes in their core architecture
Expanding their Use of ServiceNow and Finding Acorio
Since the East Coast data firm was a mature ServiceNow ITSM user and they had already made an investment in the platform, the organization didn’t consider another Service Management solution during the merge. Knowing they needed guidance during this merge, a ServiceNow sales representative recommended looking into Acorio as a trusted consultancy in the ecosystem.
The data center organization needed a partner who could ensure they were driving the best possible business outcomes for their complex ServiceNow needs and in a demanding timeline – just 8 months. With a project of such a large scale, plus a strict budget, this timeline was extremely risky. They needed a partner they could trust – someone who would get the job done on time, within budget, and without cutting any corners. So how did Acorio and this organization build that trust?
Acorio and the organization built a true partnership by working together as one unified team, taking the time to ensure everyone was on the same page and understood the value in the ServiceNow solution Acorios was proposing. From the beginning during pre-sales meetings, Acorio was very transparent about the lift involved with uniting two significantly disparate systems in a short timeframe. They worked as partners to understand everyone was in the project (and merge) together.
Real-World Results: Migrating from Domain Separation to Deploy a Leading CSM Solution
Rather than remain domain separated which inhibits scalability and adds costs, complexity, and time-to-resolve, Acorio was the only partner to recommend a unique solution that leveraged ServiceNow’s robust Customer Service Management.
CSM, compared to a domain separated ITSM environment, risks no cross pollination. Plus, rather than configuring requirements per client (thus repeating the same processes over and over), with CSM, you only had to configure once, saving the firm time for more valuable work. This also allowed the Hybrid IT solution center to provide an increased level of security for their 5,000+ customers worldwide.
With domain separation this organization was struggling to deliver the data their clients wanted, often forcing customers to travel through a maze of different systems, with plenty of clicks in between. Now, with CSM and Service Portal, customers can request information – like firewall changes, service reboots, and change requests – all in one place. During a rare occurrence that they can’t find what they’re looking for, they can easily use chat to connect with someone real-time. For the data center’s internal team, Acorio created a better user experience by implementing an internal customer Service Portal so they had better visibility into their own tickets.
Outside of CSM, Acorio also worked with the organization to align with ITSM best practices for the following; Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Project Management, Knowledge Management, and CMDB. Additionally, Acorio implemented a salesforce integration, which serviced as a contract management system so contracts would automatically get routed to the data center’s internal customer implementation project management teams. Once a project was completed, they could easily use ServiceNow as their one-stop-shop and bill their customers via the integration.
Acorio also created two custom apps. As a data center firm, security is of the upmost importance, so creating a visitor check-in app to manage visitor security and permitted controlled access through a simple, user-friendly application This allowed the organization to obtain a history of visitors and their credentials. The organization even has the efficiency to scan license which will automatically populate the visitor form.
The second app Acorio worked on was “rounds,” which automatically inspects equipment three times a day – which was a necessary requirement for the company to ensure everything was running smoothly, for example, making sure a server room wasn’t reaching above a certain temperate.
During the engagement, the biggest surprise for the Acorio team was the organization’s request to add SecOps (Incident, Vulnerability, GRC) during the contract process. While it wasn’t intended to be a part of the original solution, it was a component of the platform that got their team excited. It enabled them to realign their assumption of the platform and proved that ServiceNow can have an impact for the overall business. With 13 SecOps integrations, they’re now actively tracking customer vulnerabilities in a single dashboard.
Business Outcomes and Future Roadmaps for the Hybrid IT Provider
Now, the two merged data center firms are working in harmony, and all 1,286 fulfillers are working under best practices with their ITSM and CSM solutions. Acorio finished the project on time and under budget, which allowed the organization to add on more ServiceNow projects. Acorio worked with the organization to build a 12-month contract for Acorio’s Virtual Assistance program so that they could take advantage of our ServiceNow experts, whether it be our advisory team or our architects and technical consultants helping check boxes off their backlog.
The team also signed for an additional IT Business Management (ITBM) project; performance analytics, project, idea, and demand management. Overall, this $1.5M project delivered major digital transformation outcomes, including CSM revisioning and unification, platform enablement to deliver critical capabilities across the business, and optimization of internal technical staff.
What’s next on their roadmap? Right now, the firm is looking forward to working with Acorio and our AVA program to evaluate their CMDB health and start on yet another migration and merging project with an organization they acquired over five years ago. Working in a silo since then, they are looking to create overall harmony between the three merged organizations to continue to deliver world-class hybrid IT solutions for their customers.