Whirlpool Corporation: Why not move everything to the cloud?

By | 3 minute read | October 10, 2017

When I buy kitchen appliances, I want them to work flawlessly. I want the refrigerator to keep things cold, the oven to cook food evenly and the dishwasher to get my glasses spotless. And I want all of them to stand up to years of daily use. I hope that the manufacturer is so focused on quality and performance that I become a customer for life. I don’t think about which accounting, collaboration or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems the company might be using.

Whirlpool Corporation is in the business of manufacturing and marketing innovative home appliance solutions for our customers. Our customers expect us to focus our time and energy on what’s important to them, creating great products. But, we also know that, like any organization, we have to spend time and money on our infrastructure and systems. To perform well for consumers, we need to function well internally as a company. That means we need to constantly address what I call our “technology debt,” the systems that need to be retired or that are beyond their lifetime support. Only by having the best systems can we make the most reliable products for our customers.

Choosing the cloud

We had the ideal opportunity to explore a new way of working when replacing our collaboration and productivity suite. Knowing that our technology was already fairly old, we wanted to take advantage of new solutions in the marketplace. So, we decided to take the leap not only to upgrade our technology and applications, but also to deploy our new system in the cloud.

Our employees suddenly had a new range of capabilities and tools at their fingertips. And, we gave them this new functionality without the cost and headaches of a huge infrastructure overhaul. That made us think, “Why not move everything to the cloud?”

When it came time to upgrade our SAP system to HANA, we naturally turned to IBM for cloud-managed services. We found that IBM was one of the few SAP-certified cloud-platform providers at the time. Plus, we knew from past experience that we could count on IBM to provide thought leadership and skilled technicians.

We tested the SAP cloud migration in one of our smaller businesses, and went live in late 2015. It was a great experience! We’ve since rolled it out globally and continue to migrate our workloads to the cloud.

Embracing a new delivery model

Cloud delivery means letting go of control over onsite system tweaks and infrastructure management. There’s less visibility and you can’t touch a box or the environment. Because someone else is doing it for you, you need faith that they’re doing what’s right.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been a big change for our organization. But we’ve found that the technology is our friend in terms of organizational service delivery. We haven’t missed our service level agreements (SLAs) for performance or processing times, and our remaining on-premise solutions work just fine with our cloud-based systems.

Creating new opportunities

I think it’s critical to point out that the IBM Cloud gives us a huge opportunity to accelerate the introduction of new capabilities and new technologies without taking our focus off what’s really important — our products and our customers. We’re no longer buying 18 or 24 months of capacity or locking ourselves into a solution. Now we’re buying into a service, which can continue to grow and evolve.

It’s clear to me that cloud service delivery and cloud-managed services are the future of application and technology delivery. In a world of limited time, resources and cash flow, we’re letting IBM do the heavy lifting for data center and platform management. That gives Whirlpool the opportunity to apply our time, money and energy to innovating and delivering better products to our customers.


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