Becoming one of the most connected companies in the world
When Slalom set out to become one of the most connected companies in the world, we created a world-class portal.
Our CEO, Brad Jackson, has an ambitious vision. He wants Slalom to be the most connected company in the world. We've got a ways to go, but we’re making continuous strides toward that goal. A key ingredient in our connectedness journey is our internal portal, SlalomONE.
When it came time to upgrade our internal SharePoint environment, we turned to two of our trusted partners: Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Together, we designed and built a new high-performance SharePoint farm on AWS—improving maintenance, ensuring stability, saving money and supporting continued growth. Maybe most importantly, we've provided our people with a dependable tool for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
“There’s not a lot physical time at the water cooler. This solution helps us share knowledge and build culture.”
SlalomONE in action
As a consultancy, the majority of our people spend most of their time on-site with their client—not in our offices. So we need a collaboration and document storage solution that really works. With continued business growth—our headcount has more than doubled since 2010—that need has amplified.
The answer is our portal, SlalomONE: part collaboration space, part personal sites, and part BI space.
Originally built on Microsoft SharePoint 2010, SlalomONE was ready for an upgrade to SharePoint 2013 for two key reasons:
Scalability: Over the course of three years, our user base and content usage jumped dramatically. Daily unique site visitors climbed from 300 to 1,600, and content usage jumped from 300 GB to nearly 850 GB.
New features and functionality in SharePoint 2013: The heavy customizations in our previous environment proved difficult to maintain over time. SharePoint 2013’s out-of-the-box features allowed us to catch up with our previous customizations and make ongoing maintenance easier. Taking advantage of the product’s BI improvements, productivity enhancements, and a fresh new design also enabled our users to be more productive.
Upgrade enhancements fell into three general categories, each one enabling greater user adoption and better collaboration.
Productivity: Improvements to Office Web Apps, search, and document management were big productivity wins for our users.
Business intelligence: A coordinated upgrade to SQL 2012 enabled the introduction of in-browser PowerPivot interaction. We added other BI tools as well, like interactive visualizations and querying.
Design: UI improvements—including a flatter, more modern look and feel, increased customizability, and themeable sites—made the user experience friendlier and encourage people to engage and collaborate.
The SharePoint migration from 2010 to 2013 didn’t require any significant changes to the information architecture. As with any system upgrade, most complications and nuances arise from customizations and add-ins to out-of-the-box functionality. Where possible, we replaced custom functionality from the old system with new out-of-the-box functionality. One of the most visible customizations within the SharePoint environment is NewsGator Social Sites—a plug-in for social media, microblogging, RSS, ideation, and social analytics. With added functionality such as badging, ideation, and daily digest, the plug-in drives social and collaboration functions within SlalomONE.
“Using AWS lets me spin up instances more efficiently and at less cost.”
We diversified our environment by selecting AWS as our cloud provider—a more stable solution than our previous hosting environment.
“The decision was based on functionality and flexibility,” says Michael “Ski” Cierkowski, our development manager. “We have assets on our other cloud site and on premises. AWS was the only cloud provider that enables multiple persistent site-to-site connections so we can maintain those connections.”
We provisioned Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to run the SharePoint 2013 environment, and AWS Direct Connect acts as the authentication source on AWS and read/write connection to our domain. Our SharePoint farm runs on five Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and includes two web front servers, an application server, and a SQL server.
Over the course of the project, we successfully migrated more than 1,300 SharePoint sites to AWS, making this the largest deployment of its kind on AWS.
The upgrade and migration went live without a hitch—most consultants didn’t even notice the change in platform. They have, however, noticed the new features and the improved ability to sync content and share documents. Most importantly, the new, best-in-breed solution allows our people to better support our clients. Operational advantages include:
Cost savings: Hosting our SharePoint farm in the cloud has saved 14%—even with the addition of three servers and more storage.
Increased efficiency and knowledge sharing: Users can use Microsoft OneDrive to share documents without email; Office Web apps improve the document preview and edit experience; and enhanced search capabilities provide quick access to the content that matters most to the user.
Better data visibility: Thanks to the enhanced BI space, leaders can access workbooks, reports, cubes, and dashboards in-browser using PowerPivot and PowerView.
Partnerships matter to us. We've built relationships with the best organizations in the industry that offer our clients solutions they can count on. In turn, we also rely on our partners. For this project, we relied on solutions from two of our trusted partners, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Our Amazon Web Services expertise helps our clients leverage the capabilities of AWS to achieve economies of scale and access resources when their business needs them, delivering results faster and at a lower cost. As an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and AWS System Integrator, we are able to design and implement solutions with any of the 21 different AWS services to meet our client’s individual needs—from compute capacity and storage to networking and content delivery.
Our relationship with Microsoft runs deep. As a Microsoft Gold Partner—and five-time Microsoft Partner of the Year—we have we have deep expertise implementing Microsoft technology and a partnership built on years of collaboration. Our teams help some of the largest companies in the world drive innovation, improve their businesses, and win more customers with Microsoft solutions.