The New New Internet recently reported Unisys had won $7.2 million to transfer 4,500 employees at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to Google Apps for Government, a cloud-based email and collaboration solution.
PV Puvvada, Unisys Federal Systems group vice president for civilian agencies, caught up with ExecutiveBiz to discuss the NA cloud transition.
The executive covered his company’s relationship with Google and Microsoft, previous cloud transitions with government agencies and ways in which Unisys aids the end user after the transition to the cloud is complete.
ExecutiveBiz: How does this contract compare with previous work concerning Google cloud applications?
PV Puvvada: We have had a number of contracts where we have moved federal government customers to could collaboration. It’s pretty similar. When you look at agencies, the scope differs a bit in terms of where they are and in terms of prior and current policies.
It’s pretty much in line with the previous work that we have done and the good news for us is that, we were able to put in a world class delivery capability in practice and our e-mail and collaboration practice that have been doing these thing successfully. All of our previous engagements have been done on time, under budget or on budget.
The transition to the cloud needs to be very thorough. It pretty much compares to our prior experience and having done not just one, not just two, but several of these successfully was an attractive proposition to other federal customers.
ExecutiveBiz: What specific challenges will Unisys help the National Archives with?
PV: They have an aged legacy e-mail infrastructure that’s very expensive to manage and maintain, not a whole lot of flexibility.
Transitioning to a new cloud based e-mail system that gives a lot more capability and collaboration capabilities.
The organizational challenge is part of it and technology transition challenges is also a part of it.
Also, understanding the full potential of the capabilities of the e-mail collaboration and the cloud environment that comes from Google, making them aware of it and making sure they are trained and prepared to take advantage of all those capabilities.
ExecutiveBiz: What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
PV: The obvious benefit is you’re taking advantage of a leading edge capability that goes beyond e-mail collaboration. Your taking a large user based commercial offering that’s really good and that’s aligned to the government and certified for the government.
The other is the cost savings. If you imagine with these aged e-mail infrastructures, just the cost of maintaining software license is sometimes more than what you paid for on an annual basis for cloud based e-mail systems. It’s a significant efficiency from a cost perspective.
It also allows the agency to focus on managing through contractors, not your employees. You focus on where your strategic initiatives are.
The other benefits are the Google based, cloud based Google apps for gov is really a platform to collaborate, work on initiatives within the agency, work on documents, create sites, be able to search things, able to get the e-mails a lot easier because it’s over the cloud because it’s web based.
You get into not only the cost benefits but you now start moving into a collaboration environment and you change the culture of your organization because you don’t have to have to have an IT create permissions to be able to share documents, to be able to do video chats, to be able to do all the other things that you do as part of a socially enabled collaborative environment.
ExecutiveBiz: Since you have worked on these transitions with Google before, could you talk about your relationship with that company and how it’s evolved over time?
PV: We have great relationship with Google. It’s built on obviously on us working together and similarly we have really good relationship with Microsoft as well, because we do both Office 365 as well as Google.
Specifically about Google, I think part of how you build a relationship is to help each other. When we did the GSA e-mail, that was a first enterprise-wide implementation for Google apps for gov. When there are issues, we’re able to find common ground working with the customers to be able to address specific challenges.
As a result of that they appreciate the broader experience that we bring about the customers’ infrastructure, how it works and how that security needs to be looked at and how do you perform the organizational change management?
On their part, I think they were able to learn quickly in how you adapt their practices to suit with the government market which they haven’t seen before on that large scale.
One of the things we really appreciated is during some of the deployments, Google employees volunteered their time to be (large customer sides) so that they’re there to hold hands with the end users that may not be feeling comfortable yet.
So, it’s really good relationship. Like you said, for transition to work it has to be seamless, it has to be one team and you got to understand what each other’s strengths are. They have a great product and they have a global scale in terms of hundreds of millions of users. So they understand the change management from a product perspective, they understand integration and we understand customers’ environment, e-mail and collaboration.
ExecutiveBiz: In terms of winning more of these contracts, how are you positioning your company?
PV: I believe Unisys is one of the very few companies that has successfully migrated several of these. That is more important to the customers because at the end of the day, e-mail system is a critical system. That’s how you communicate within the organization and outside the organization.
That positions us really well because we have a lot of credibility moving large organizations to the cloud within the constraints of the transition being smooth and thoughtful.
We really have a world-class Google practice and Microsoft practice. High-end professionals that understand how to design an implementation, how to do a data migration, how to operate it, how to share best practices. We are very aggressively going after the e-mail as a service deals across all civilian DOD sectors.
The other thing that we’re also positioning is through GSA e-mail as a service. BTA has been awarded and we’re one of the 17 vendors, but we believe we have edge over many of our competitors. We offer both Google and Microsoft solution, but we’re also the only one that has done multiple implementations successfully and clients speak very highly of it.
Part of the position that we’re in is not just to move e-mail and a collaboration suite to the cloud, its to kind of partner with the customers to take advantage of the new paradigm. The old paradigm is you want to share documents, you go make an attachment and send it around to everybody where it inevitably grows in size.
It makes for a lot of confusion, a lot of time. The new paradigm is you share the documents, you send the links and they’re sitting in different places and working on it at the same time. In a matter of seconds, they can see the updates, they have the latest and the greatest document, right?
How do you create these collaborative teams and sites and how do you take advantage of the tools that are there? We’re really good at managing the organizational change and organizational transformation to open the full breadth and the capabilities that are there.
We just released a “one year after” with the GSA e-mail implementation and there are specific cases where the organizations, the business lines, the mission organizations enable themselves and are taking advantage of this tool.
What we’re really good at is, yes, initial migration but staying there and understanding how to maximize the capabilities of the tools is just as important. We believe that positions us really well.
We are the lead company in the federal market for e-mail and collaboration on the cloud and moving the critical applications like e-mail to the cloud requires that expertise combined with that innovative thinking.
ExecutiveBiz: After you’ve transitioned an agency to cloud and Google apps, how do you aid the end user? How do you organize your team to best suit that end user?
PV: There are a number of things that we do. We have a touch point throughout the life of the contract through our program management office that is looking at cross – we have dedicated teams for each one of the implementations, but they’re also looking at cross multiple customer instances, sharing better ways to enable certain things.
Unisys has a methodology called continuous service improvement and innovation program. We call it CSIIP.
We use that type of structure to go look at what are the new services that are rolling out updates that these vendors make and what is that capability and what do we need to do? What are some of the things that need to be done?
We do a lot of workshops, training to the end users and bring the tools and the things that they use to the forefront and talk about the future roadmaps and things like that.
The other thing that we do is we work on a number of other migration projects. The e-mails include a lot of legacy applications. How do you first get rid of those legacy applications that were built on the e-mail systems that you don’t need any more and how do you migrate so that the ones you do have can have some of their business processes embedded into them?
We go to the next stage and basically have a broader enterprise view of the portfolio and try to help give solutions whether it is in the realm of mobility, new mobile devices or how do we enable them into the environment to the workflow business process.
It’s a very rich menu of items that we work with the customers and that’s the advantage of having multiple simultaneous operational engagements across the globe of these kinds, is that you get to bring those best practices.