Collaborating to deliver new hybrid cloud solutions
Ricoh USA unites with IBM to move insurance giant’s workloads to IBM Power Virtual Server in the cloud
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Ricoh Company, Ltd. is a digital information management company with a long legacy in both office print and workplace enablement solutions. While these solutions are staples in the brand’s offerings, the company, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, encompasses an array of business lines across its 200+ international subsidiaries.

Ricoh USA is one of those subsidiaries. In 2014, the company, which had been focused primarily on industrial and commercial printing, acquired an IT provider as part of its strategic evolution from hardware provider to digital services innovator. “We brought in managed IT services, outsourcing IT, cloud services and data center services,” says Nick Mattera, Vice President, Hosting Operations, Ricoh USA. “We operated independently for a while. Since then—for almost 10 years—IBM has served as a delivery partner for us.”

The foundation of the relationship between Ricoh USA and IBM is built on mutual trust. “We have a great relationship with IBM,” says Mattera. “We’re not just partners. We’re also vendors of one another’s solutions. IBM buys and uses Ricoh printers and devices globally. And Ricoh purchases many products and services from IBM to support our offerings to our customers. So the relationship is very deep.”

Ricoh USA is also an IT managed services provider for IBM® Power® server environments, primarily covering customers in SMB markets while IBM focuses on large enterprise markets.

Each of Ricoh’s customers has unique needs. In 2020, a longstanding customer and multinational insurance giant came to Ricoh USA with a request. The insurance company had two data centers in Europe where Ricoh was managing the insurer’s IBM i applications on IBM Power servers.

To save costs and increase efficiency, the insurance company planned to shut down its data centers and move its workloads to the cloud. Ricoh USA was tasked with figuring out a way to help it do so.

Ricoh USA didn’t have data centers in the European countries where the insurance company was operating. It did, however, have a strong relationship with IBM, which in turn had IBM Cloud® data centers in Europe.

“The biggest advantage of IBM Cloud was that it was already built,” says Deepak Kohli, Regional Vice President, Cloud Hosting and IT Managed Services at Ricoh USA. “We didn’t need to worry about starting from scratch. We could layer in our services—what we were doing for the customer—and provide 24x7 coverage. The IBM Cloud made perfect sense.”

The stage was set. Now it was time for the real work to begin.

Up to 40%  

potential savings in eliminating annual data center operating costs

4 hours

possible reduction in customer’s daily data backup time

 

We have a great relationship with IBM. We’re not just partners. We’re also vendors of one another’s solutions … So the relationship is very deep. Nick Mattera Vice President, Hosting Operations Ricoh USA, Inc.
A powerful partnership

The migration began in July 2022. Moving IBM i applications from IBM Power Systems on premises to IBM Power Virtual Server on the cloud was relatively straightforward, in that it required no refactoring. Ricoh was responsible for the overall migration, but worked closely with IBM to tap into expertise that only IBM could provide.

“We were familiar with IBM Cloud,” says Mattera. “We had deployed services within our own IBM Cloud instance for other customers. On the infrastructure side though, we hadn’t done any IBM Power Virtual Server deployments yet. So there was a bit of a learning curve, and IBM was there to help throughout, which was great.”

The insurance industry has strict governmental requirements for data management, including a provision that all data be stored for at least seven years. To accommodate this requirement, IBM called upon IBM Business Partner FalconStor. With the FalconStor StorSafe VTL solution, the team could convert physical storage tape drives into a virtual tape format and back them up to IBM Cloud Object Storage for easy storage and retrieval.

Since FalconStor’s VTL solution was already embedded on IBM Cloud, implementing it was relatively straightforward. “Again, it was a new platform for our engineers on the Power side,” says Mattera. “Once we got past that with help from FalconStor and the IBM team, we’ve become very comfortable with it.”

“So the learning curve, while it was there, wasn’t tremendously painful,” he continues. “There were a lot of lessons learned. Now we feel fully confident in deployments going forward.”

In September 2022, the insurance customer’s workloads were fully migrated and went into full production on IBM Cloud. The insurance company users are now able to connect privately from on-premises office locations to the hybrid cloud environment in Europe—running its IBM i applications on IBM Cloud while also subscribing to a variety of other independent software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

New skills, new opportunities

Today, Ricoh USA is reaping multiple benefits from the successful implementation. It continues to enjoy a strong relationship with the multinational insurance company, which remains a satisfied customer. Not only can the insurance company continue to run the IBM i applications to which it is accustomed, but it also can focus on its core business rather than on maintaining and paying for IT infrastructure: with IBM Power Virtual Server, the company pays only for the services and bandwidth it uses.

By moving the insurance company’s workloads to IBM Cloud, Ricoh USA has positioned the company to save up to 40% in annual data center housing and operating costs worldwide. What’s more, the elimination of the space and energy required to run those data centers has reduced the company’s carbon footprint.

With FalconStor StoreSafe VTL in place, Ricoh USA has enabled the insurance company to improve its data backup and storage capabilities with greater scalability and speed. The company is now able to meet its regulatory requirements for storing data for the long term and has the potential to help reduce the backup time for its insurance customers’ workloads by up to four hours.

Ricoh USA has also developed new capabilities and skills in its IT managed services business, expanding its expertise of IBM Power systems into IBM Power Virtual Server environments. It also can apply its knowledge of FalconStor StoreSafe to implementations throughout the world.

The relationship between Ricoh USA and IBM is stronger than ever. “The available diverse applications and resources within IBM Expert Labs services increases our chances to close even more opportunities,” says Mattera. “This is yet another game changer for Ricoh ITS.”

The implementation has opened doors not only to new possibilities in running IBM Power Virtual Servers in Ricoh USA’s own cloud, but also the ability to offer it as a managed service in Europe. “The ability to operate within the IBM Cloud has given us a global reach that we never had before,” says Mattera. “It enables us to go after a whole new market segment.”

Another exciting opportunity is that of extending the reach of the Ricoh USA cloud through collaboration with IBM Cloud. “Our own cloud is made up of physical infrastructure,” says Mattera. “So the intent would be to downsize the physical footprint of our data centers by utilizing IBM Cloud.”

“A customer with a global reach might want to have geographically diverse data recovery capabilities or a high-availability environment—availability in North America, production in Europe or the Pacific Rim, wherever it is. IBM Cloud gives us that flexibility,” he concludes.

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About Ricoh USA, Inc.

Ricoh USA (link resides outside of ibm.com) is an information management and digital services company that provides IT services and commercial and industrial printing solutions. Its parent company, Ricoh Company, Ltd., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a global leader in imaging and electronics that serves more than 1.4 million businesses, 84% of which are in the Fortune 500.

About FalconStor Software

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, IBM Business Partner FalconStor (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a leading provider of data protection optimization software, including FalconStor StorSafe VTL (link resides outside of ibm.com), that modernizes disaster recovery and backup solutions in hybrid cloud environments. The company was founded in 2000 and currently serves more than 1,000 organizations worldwide.

IBM i and IBM Power Virtual Servers

IBM i is an operating system for IBM Power servers, a family of servers that are based on IBM Power processors. IBM Power Virtual Servers are configurable multi-tenant virtual IBM Power servers with access to IBM cloud services.

 

 

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