Tepco Glass Migrates to Azure, Increasing Reliability and Setting the Stage for Future IT Modernization

Faced with aging on-premises servers and an unsupported operating system, Tepco Glass moves all applications to Microsoft Azure with help from Lightstream.

Business Challenge

Tepco Glass is one of the top glass and glazing contractors in the United States. Founded in 1982, the Dallas-based company specializes in commercial glazing and architectural design, as well as the installation of curtain walls, window walls, storefronts, entrances, motor operable windows, glass railings, and other façade enclosures.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the construction industry stalled. Many projects were postponed, delayed, or canceled. And the global slowdown cascaded to suppliers and contractors, including Tepco, negatively affecting revenues and cash flow.

Although business was slow and cash flow was tight, Tepco’s business did not stop. The company continued to operate, serving its customers and addressing operational challenges. One challenge they faced involved the company’s IT infrastructure.

Tepco’s core business applications ran on Windows Server 2008 R2 servers located in the company’s small data center in Dallas. The hardware was over five years old, and Tepco’s IT manager was concerned that the aging hardware could lead to equipment failures. In addition, Windows Server 2008 R2 had reached end of life, and the company was no longer receiving support from Microsoft.

Solution

Company executives knew they needed to address the issues. But given the economic realities during the pandemic—business slowdown, a global microchip shortage, and supply chain constraints—they did not want to incur a large capital outlay to purchase new hardware and upgrade to a supported operating system.

They decided to explore the cloud. Moving to the cloud would eliminate the need to refresh hardware. And Microsoft offered an added incentive: if they migrated their Windows Server 2008 R2 environments to Microsoft Azure, the company would receive an additional 36 months of extended security updates for free.

The solution seemed viable, but the company wanted to ensure that it would work. Tepco’s IT manager knew one of Lightstream’s account executives from a previous working relationship, and reached out for help.

The first step was to assess the plan. Lightstream linked Tepco’s VMware environment to Azure Migration to evaluate the feasibility of moving it to Azure. This showed that the migration was viable and that Tepco could save money over the long term. Tepco’s executives were pleased with the findings and approved the project.

Over a period of 12 weeks, Lightstream experts worked with Tepco to plan, configure, and test their Azure environment. Finally, when all testing had been completed and issues resolved, Lightstream moved all of Tepco’s core applications from on-premise servers into the new environment. For ongoing support and optimization of their Azure environment, Tepco will use Lightstream Cloud Managed Services (CMS).

Business Outcomes

Increased Reliability and Availability

Tepco Glass has four locations—two in Dallas, one in Carrollton, Texas, and one in Oklahoma City—as well as other remote users who need access to applications. The Dallas headquarters is located in a section of the Dallas area that doesn’t have the most reliable power or internet service. Consequently, when the headquarters site suffered a power or internet outage, no one could connect from any locations, and their business was disrupted.

By moving all applications to Azure, Tepco no longer has this problem. Even if the Dallas location experiences an outage, users from the other sites are not affected. They can continue working without interruption.

Shift to a Consumption-based Operating Model

Tepco no longer maintains on-premise server hardware. By moving to Azure, they eliminated the need for large capital outlays in the future to address product upgrades and hardware refreshes. And they now have a more predictable operating expense model for IT.

Better Positioned for Future IT Modernization

Tepco is no longer limited by their data center environment. With all server infrastructure now in Azure, they have more flexibility, making it simpler for them to pursue future modernization efforts like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and others. For example, with all workload in Azure, they don’t need to buy high-end gaming computers for people to do product designs anymore—the heavy processing can now be done in the cloud.

Ongoing Infrastructure Management and Cloud Optimization

By moving to Azure, Tepco no longer has to worry about infrastructure management. Lightstream Cloud Managed Services supports the company’s infrastructure, ensuring servers are patched and maintained, and oversees the company’s Azure environment to make sure it is optimized both for cost and performance.

A Large Design-Build Construction Company Saves Azure Cloud Migration with Help from Lightstream

Security gaps threatened the company’s cloud migration, but crisis was averted with services from Lightstream.

Business Challenge

A desire to stay innovative, modern, and operationally effective—three critical attributes in today’s competitive construction industry—led a large design-build construction company in the Midwest to explore the cloud. The company’s IT leadership team chose Microsoft Azure as their platform and purchased Prisma Cloud, a multi-cloud security offering from Palo Alto Networks, to provide added security protection for their cloud environments.

Once its Azure environment was implemented, the company began migrating applications. The team’s goal was to move as many applications as possible to the cloud, knowing some applications would have to remain on-premises, and their operating environment would result in a hybrid configuration.

After months of moving applications and deploying them into production, however, the company discovered problems. A security assessment revealed there were serious security gaps in the way Azure and Prisma Cloud had been implemented. If not addressed, the gaps would allow external entities to gain access to their environment, leaving the company’s systems vulnerable to breaches. This forced the company to stop its cloud migration and move applications back into its own data center.

Solution

With its cloud migration on hold, the company looked for a solution to solve its security problems and contacted Lightstream for help.

Once engaged, Lightstream Azure Cloud experts began gathering information. They reviewed the company’s business requirements, technology environment (infrastructure, data services, security landscape, application portfolio, and operations tools), and processes to gain a clear understanding of the company’s operating environment.

Next, the team evaluated the company’s existing Azure environment. They reviewed the company’s core cloud configurations, standards and governance, identity and access management (IAM), network interconnectivity, security, and monitoring, provided recommendations for changes to address issues, and then created an operational run-book with as-built documentation.

The next step was to review the Palo Alto Networks NGFW (next-generation firewall) configuration. The team reviewed the overall design of the appliances, assessed the Azure routing configurations, network placement, and connectivity, and recommended changes to remediate issues and ensure high availability.

The last step was to address the Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud implementation. The team evaluated the existing deployment, including policies and settings for resource configurations, user activities, network traffic, and host vulnerabilities, and made changes to resolve problems and ensure the environment operated correctly.

Business Outcomes

Remediation of Security Gaps and Reduced Business Risk

After completing the project with Lightstream, the company was able to eliminate its security gaps. External entities were no longer able to gain access to the company’s Azure environment through the known security vulnerabilities. This increased the confidence in the company’s cloud platform and lowered the risk of security breaches to the organization.

Secure Azure Environment with Next-Generation Firewalls

The company gained a secure Azure environment protected by Palo Alto Networks NGFWs in a high availability configuration. This enabled the company to resume migrating applications safely to the cloud and ensured its firewalls would be resilient.

Successful Prisma Cloud Implementation

With help from Lightstream experts, the company was able to overcome its initial problems and successfully implement Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud in its environment. This provided added security protection for the company’s cloud infrastructure and cloud-native applications.

A Large Dairy Co-operative Turns to Lightstream to Help Save Its ERP Migration in Azure

Microsoft Azure and Palo Alto Networks NGFW design and implementation services from Lightstream help the company overcome edge security issues and deploy ERP in the cloud.

Business Challenge

Dairy is a complex, regulated industry. Since the 1930s, the U.S. government has regulated milk prices. Minimum prices are set for fluid milk (based on several factors, including the price of butter, cheese, nonfat dry milk, and dry whey), and all processors must pay it. Different prices are set for milk used as an ingredient in dairy products, though the process is the same: the government sets the price, and processors pay it.

In addition, milk is a perishable product. As a result, the government sets strict standards on its use. Processors are unable to stockpile product to meet fluctuating consumer demand, which in recent years has been shifting to dairy alternatives like oat and soy milk.

These market realities put pressure on dairy processors. To address these challenges, a large dairy co-operative in the Pacific Northwest decided to expand its operations beyond its regional customer base with the goal of becoming a national brand. But to do that, the company first needed to modernize its systems by moving away from its on-premise legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to Microsoft Dynamics 365 to establish a more flexible operating platform.

Midway through the project, however, the company ran into security problems. It turned out the company didn’t fully understand how to implement native cloud security controls available in Microsoft Azure and did not have proper edge security protection in place to satisfy governance and compliance regulations. After months of trying to correct the problem with the help of a 3rd -party firm, the company was unable to deploy its ERP solution and was faced with either seeking additional help or shutting down the project.

Solution

Prior to contacting Lightstream, the company had attempted to implement Palo Alto Networks NGFW (next-generation firewall) in Azure to provide edge security for its users. The company’s IT team was committed to the solution and its capabilities, but they had struggled with the implementation.

Once engaged, the Lightstream team reviewed the company’s requirements. They evaluated the existing Palo Alto NGFW configuration, executed an ingress and egress assessment, developed a security plan for implementing the company’s ERP system in the cloud using Azure native controls and Palo Alto NGFW as the edge inspection point, and architected the design to ensure high availability and resiliency. This was done by performing a customized Cloud Foundation Framework engagement.

After the design was completed, Lightstream built the Azure environment per the design blueprint, including VNets, network security groups, platform logging, and all native security controls. Then, the team implemented the Palo Alto NGFWs in a high availability configuration.

The final step was testing and validation. Lightstream’s Azure Cloud engineering experts helped test traffic flow, routing, and connectivity, as well as security functionality to ensure the solution provided the edge security protection the company needed.

Business Outcomes

Next-Generation Edge Security Protection

The company now has next-generation security to protect its systems. This includes IPS (intrusion prevention system) that examines network traffic to prevent vulnerability exploits, APT (advanced persistent threat) intelligence and detection, and other security capabilities that help keep data safe from cyber attacks.

Successful Migration to Microsoft Dynamics 365

With edge security in place, the company was able to move forward with its ERP project. Now, the company has replaced its legacy ERP solution with Microsoft Dynamics 365, providing the enhanced computing platform the company needs to expand its operation.

Lightstream Helps Major Software Provider Achieve Business Growth with AWS Even During Pandemic

Industry:  Technology

Cloud Managed Services Empower MasterControl through Business Optimization, Cost Control and Enhanced Security within AWS

Business Challenge

As a leading provider of Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS), MasterControl prides itself on maintaining the highest standards of quality and operational excellence. In fact, the organization’s cloud-based QMS system is titled MasterControl Quality Excellence™. With some of the largest regulatory agencies and life-science companies in the world depending on MasterControl to help them expedite the process of providing people with life-changing products, they can’t afford to leave quality and compliance to chance.

MasterControl is an innovator in the use of cloud technology and started down the path of public cloud with AWS in 2010. They eventually became overwhelmed with the day-to-day contractual management of AWS and sought out a technology provider that could help them streamline processes, fine-tune security and contain costs. They found that partner in Lightstream, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner that offers a variety of services to assist organizations in assessing, designing and managing their AWS environment.

Over the years, Lightstream has helped MasterControl to find better ways to grow their business with AWS while controlling costs. Lightstream’s assistance with onboarding new accounts and achieving savings discounts has enabled the company to overcome obstacles as they bolstered software development initiatives. AWS and Lightstream supported MasterControl as the company expanded into Europe and Asia Pacific, which expansion was made much faster and more seamless due to the cloud.

As most business leaders know, this magnitude of expansion is almost always accompanied by growing pains. MasterControl’s IT team found that it was being stretched thin and no longer had time or sufficient resources for the ongoing monitoring needed to detect potential cloud security issues. They had to find ways to manage security and reduce cloud spending as they worked to establish a strong global presence. Travis Ruiz, Director of Cloud Services at MasterControl, once again collaborated with long-time partner Lightstream to come up with a solution.

Solution

Lightstream knew that its Cloud Managed Services offering could provide MasterControl with enhanced financial optimization along with the security oversight that is critical in order for the company to prosper even during times of crisis. Cloud Managed Services helps companies to improve the day-to-day administration and management of their cloud infrastructure through a flexible mix of consulting, integration and managed services. Lightstream’s gold level service package identifies changes that must be made in MasterControl’s cloud environment for security, technical and financial optimization. Lightstream then implements the changes necessary to remediate the financial aspects of those optimizations, while MasterControl’s in-house team is able to remediate any security and technical issues Lightstream detects.

Lightstream negotiated an Enterprise Discount Plan (EDP) with AWS on behalf of MasterControl in order to achieve a considerable expense reduction. Cost optimization measures have been amped up with additional savings plans and in-depth reviews and revisions to its Reserved Instances contracts. Extensive tagging features and Lightstream Connect customized reporting were established to help the company save time and gain greater visibility while analyzing expenditures and appropriately allocating costs.

Business Outcomes

Since Lightstream began providing Cloud Managed Services to the company in 2017, MasterControl has been able to meet their stringent budget constraints, even during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Like most organizations, MasterControl faced many challenges in 2020 as customers weren’t as active as they once were, which was negatively impacting the company’s revenue stream.

Financial Optimization

Despite this, they’ve managed to stay on track with the help of an eight percent discount on AWS costs along with additional savings. A dedicated team at Lightstream has ongoing interaction with MasterControl’s executive officers, regularly delivering detailed reports and savings summaries that demonstrate how Lightstream is helping the company reduce expenses.

Enhanced Security

MasterControl’s internal IT team is able to focus on keeping its cloud environment safe and secure with the help of Lightstream’s ongoing monitoring, analysis and reports that give insight into potential technical and security threats and concerns that must be remediated.

Business Growth

While MasterControl’s cloud journey with AWS propelled the company’s international growth, Lightstream has ensured business optimization and significant ROI along the way. Lightstream has helped MasterControl to scale down spending without lowering their high standards for quality, compliance and security. The company has managed not only to remain viable during this tumultuous time, but it’s starting to grow again even in the face of an economic downturn.

As MasterControl continues its steady expansion, Lightstream is unwavering in its promise to add value and foster growth within the AWS cloud environment. Lightstream stands ready to support MasterControl well into the future, with ever-broadening service offerings that can continue to help it succeed in its quest to maintain the highest standards of quality, safety and operational excellence.

What MasterConrol had to say:

“We appreciate that Lightstream goes above and beyond to enrich our AWS cloud environment. Our long-term partnership with them has allowed us to keep customer success and innovation at the core of our operating philosophy without compromising on the cost and efficiency of our cloud infrastructure. We’re on track for continued growth with cloud technology firmly at the center of our product and services map.”

-Travis Ruiz, director of cloud services at MasterControl

UBC Successfully Migrates Windows and SQL Servers to Azure

Industry:  Trade Union

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters is one of North America’s largest building trade unions, with over a half-million members. The union leads the way in training, educating and representing the next generation of skilled construction professionals.

Business Problem

  • Development of Cloud migration plan to Azure.
  • Meet security and regulatory compliance requirements for migrating core legacy applications, including Personify running on Windows Server and SQL Server.
  • Provide ongoing Azure optimization and management.

Solution

  • Lightstream Cloud Foundation Framework Workshop and guided Foundation Build aligned with Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF).
  • POC stand up, Security Planning and Design, Network Architecture and Design, App Validation, Automation and Implementation.
  • Lightstream Cloud Managed Services for ongoing Azure management and optimization of financial, technical, security and operational aspects of environment.

Business Outcomes:

  • Successful workloads migration to Azure.
  • Compliant governance and security posture for workload environment enabling UBC to safely deploy applications via Infrastructure-as-Code.
  • Ongoing management and optimization including 65% cost savings through RI management and successful networking providing full direct interoperability between on-premise resources, Azure resources via ExpressRoute and AWS resources via Direct Connect.