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Arkema: A migration to Amazon Workspaces as part of the AWS Migration Acceleration Program

Amazon Workspaces migration

Arkema is a major player in specialty materials (advanced materials, coatings, adhesive solutions, etc.). Established in 55 countries, Arkema has migrated its IT infrastructures to the Cloud with the aim of improving its IT agility and reducing its carbon footprint.

Arkema has migrated its VMWare Horizon virtual desktop solution to Amazon Workspaces, with the benefits of automating and accelerating provisioning, better cost control and improved performance thanks to location closer to users.

The Devoteam teams supported Arkema in this migration, which is part of the AWS MAP ( Migration Acceleration Program ) program. This support focused on the migration to Amazon Workspaces, on the automation of provisioning in connection with ServiceNow , on support for change, and on increasing the skills of Arkema teams.

Bertrand Sève, IT Cloud & Hosting Manager at Arkema , answers our questions about this migration alongside the Devoteam teams.

In what context does the migration to Amazon Workspaces take place?

Since 2019 we have been engaged in a move to Cloud, with the objective of eventually closing our data centers .

As part of this migration, we needed to find a new virtual desktop publishing solution to replace VMware Horizon, and we chose AWS Workspaces.

What made you choose Amazon Workspaces?

Our IaaS strategy is to use the Cloud provider’s native solutions , before looking for alternative solutions. Amazon Workspaces met our specifications, so naturally our choice fell on this service.

We mainly have two types of virtual office users: needs related to office automation and classic applications for our business users, and office automation and infrastructure for our partners in the Digital domain. Finally, we have a third specific use case, for technical management which uses 3D applications . The subject was a little more complex, we wanted to ensure that workspaces supporting 3D graphics acceleration would have the expected level of performance. We conducted a POC which responded positively to this question, and we therefore validated the choice of Amazon Workspaces.

What benefits have you seen following the migration?

The virtual office service is also used by outsourcing partners located in different geographic areas worldwide . The migration to Amazon Workspaces has addressed access performance issues for users outside of Europe. AWS regions allow us to locate the service as close as possible to the user and no longer have performance concerns.

More generally, the benefits of the migration are part of our flexibility strategy : our on-premises capacity was limited to several hundred users, we now benefit from the availability and elasticity advantages of the Cloud. We also manage our consumption as close as possible to our needs, with the ability to hitchhike, and therefore to better manage the costs of our virtual positions . Pay-per-use on the Cloud requires greater rigor, and therefore to monitor changes in usage on a daily basis. This is more responsible consumption than in an on-premises environment where verification campaigns are annual. We now use fewer machines due to this close monitoring.

What are the contributions of the Migration Acceleration Program?

The first interest is financial, the MAP makes it possible to reduce the cost of the migration project. The program also provides a methodology and a structure with clearly identified stages and a timing. We know where we are starting from, and what the objective is. The disadvantage is that this framework can also be rigid and it is sometimes complicated to deviate from it to integrate specificities. In our case, this was largely compensated by the quality of the Devoteam speakers who supported us well on these subjects.

What are the transformation challenges brought by a large-scale migration?

The needs and objectives of the move to Cloud are known to everyone, however we still encounter resistance to the Cloud and the new working methods it implies. The Cloud is reshuffling the cards in terms of roles, responsibilities and processes ; this can cause a culture clash between a very traditional vision of infrastructure, and partners like Devoteam who are far ahead of Cloud culture.

This can create a gap, but here again the empathy and relational qualities of those involved in the project, Devoteam or AWS, make the difference, and help to successfully support the change.

Did you encounter any difficulties during the migration?

We started the project with certain security assumptions. At the same time, other projects were progressing, and security rules evolved , so we had to integrate these new rules. To integrate these new security rules into Amazon Workspaces, we had to modify network access. This therefore had a strong impact on the project, and forced us to postpone the schedule. We put the project on standby with Devoteam, which was really able to adapt to this constraint, and reorganize the resources until we were ready.

Another challenge is end-to-end automation of provisioning. Our goal was to be able to trigger an automated workflow for validating and creating resources, in response to a request from Workspaces in the Service Now tool. It was a challenge because it involves several teams on different scopes : Service Now, Active Directory, Windows, Workspaces, etc.

But it is a challenge that we were able to successfully meet, with the help of Devoteam.

What was the added value of Devoteam’s support?

I take away from our collaboration a strong capacity for adaptation .

The Devoteam teams were able to be responsive to constraints that arose during the project, understand and evaluate their impact and continue to move forward. On a human level, we also appreciated having speakers with very good interpersonal skills. On a technical level, the Devoteam teams have a very broad skills base that goes beyond the scope of AWS and includes topics related to AWS and Amazon Workspaces, such as security or Active Directory.

To conclude, what assessment do you draw from migration?

A move to Cloud is an ambitious approach on a human and technical level .

This involves all teams and technologies and leads to a review of all processes. In our case, despite the integration of additional security constraints during the project, we managed to respect the schedule of the migration program with the support of Devoteam. The results of the move to cloud approach are very positive, and we are aligned with the IT deadlines that we had set for ourselves.