How did colony brands transform its data warehousing interconnections – the equinix blog electricity png

Colony Brands was founded in 1926 as The Swiss Colony, where we started small, shipping cuts of cheese to a handful of customers. Now over 90 years later, we have experienced our fair share of digital transformation. Today, Colony Brands is one of the largest, most successful omni-channel direct marketing companies in the U.S. general merchandise and food sectors. We consist of 11 affiliated U.S.-based catalog brands and 10 other subsidiaries/affiliates, including marketing, credit, data center, wholesale foods and aviation businesses.

As Vice President/CIO of SC Data Center, Inc., an affiliate of Colony Brands, my organization delivers the IT infrastructure and contact center services for all these brands, including supporting thousands of our employees. Our goal is to continue to build upon a tradition of delivering the best customer experience possible. We do this by capturing real-time business intelligence from our growing amounts of customer data. However, to increase our revenue, we needed to develop more effective marketing campaigns. This meant better leveraging our customer data and gaining real-time business intelligence via big data analytics.

Right away, we saw that we needed to transform our data warehousing management and back office systems from an on-premises IT model to a more high-performance, secure, scalable and reliable hybrid IT (on-premises and cloud) infrastructure. In addition, we needed to cost-efficiently tie eight remote sites into this new hybrid IT infrastructure.

We migrated our on-premises data warehousing and customer analytics systems to AWS by leveraging an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy, deployed on Platform Equinix™, to create an interconnected, hybrid IT infrastructure. This allowed us to tether our corporate data center with an Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Chicago and replace our MPLS network backbone with a “super highway” of redundant, point-to-point 10 gigabits per second (Gb/s) connections. From there, we were able to more cost-effectively interconnect our on-premises IT infrastructure with AWS and access Equinix’s dense ecosystems of network, cloud and SaaS providers.

We used Equinix Performance Hub™ to directly interconnect our on-premises and Equinix data centers, as well as eight of our remote sites. This gave us the bandwidth we needed to optimize the network and application performance across our hybrid IT environment. And by establishing virtualized, high-speed, low-latency connectivity with AWS through the Equinix Cloud Exchange™ (ECX) Fabric, we were able to seamlessly integrate AWS with our super highway for a more consistent QoS when accessing both on-premises and cloud services. We regularly perform data backups of our virtual machines and databases in the cloud for more scalable and economic BC and DR.

Equinix worked with best-of-breed partners, providing my team with professional services that included telecom strategy and cost modeling, as well as WAN assessment and architectural design, which optimized the network, Equinix platform and AWS consumption. Working with Equinix and its Professional Services team gave us a seamless, interconnected, high-availability fabric for our company.

After one year in production, we reduced our data/voice networking costs by 50% and realized an 81% internal rate of return (IRR) by transforming to a digital business model with Equinix and AWS. In addition, we increased our voice/data throughput from 200 MB/s to 10 Gb/s and optimized data warehousing, QoS, and back office and analytics capabilities by directly and securely accessing proximate data and networking and cloud ecosystems.

IT transformation is really about creating new value by leveraging new technology, rather than spending time managing legacy systems. Equinix allowed us to unlock the value of AWS for greater agility and innovation with our data warehouse and customer analytics, accelerating our productivity like never before.