Rentokil Initial is the number one pest control company worldwide and the world’s leading hygiene and well-being services business. With more than 57,700 staff based in 90 countries, it has acquired more than 250 businesses since 2016, enabling it to provide local operations to 4.9 million customers in every major global market.
Notwithstanding its impressive scale and global reach, Rentokil Initial prides itself, above all else, on being a people business. Its focus on leveraging innovative new technologies, such as AI and IoT, is underpinned by the aim to support and facilitate staff to deliver their best work. This approach ultimately adds value to the business.
Despite most of the organization’s application development now native on Google Cloud using serverless technologies, the company still manages hundreds of applications across traditional VMs worldwide. Rentokil Initial needed to secure and modernize its VM platforms while optimizing its serverless and VM technology streams.
The company also wanted to fully embrace the cloud and work toward the closure of its data centers. This would only be achieved through the successful migration of workloads to Google Cloud, but every time a hardware recycle was due, the cost of moving to the cloud was prohibitive. Until it discovered Google Cloud VMware Engine.
A people-first partnership
“The first time we saw Google Cloud VMware Engine was at Google Cloud Next in 2019,” says Mike Howell, group head of infrastructure, Rentokil Initial. “We had our development and infrastructure teams watching remotely and, for the first time, I was receiving messages from both teams saying, ‘Have you seen this technology?’ Both teams simultaneously realized that this could really help accelerate our transformation.”
The company was keen to avoid a prolonged, complex rearchitecting and migration project, and Google Cloud VMware Engine provided an ideal alternative. The solution also meant Howell’s team could leverage existing investments from Google Cloud services across data analytics, network and management.
Due to the organization’s UK hosting provider going into administration, the team had to accelerate the migration. Rentokil Initial completed the move in just four months, despite initially planning for 12 to 18 months.
Howell describes the positive experience Rentokil Initial had: “The key thing with Google Cloud VMware Engine is that we maintained consistent operations, along with the familiar look and feel of the VMware platform. This meant we were able to move fast and we didn’t have to reskill engineers.”
This people-centered approach to a major transition has also impacted the engineering team. “Going back six or seven years, our infrastructure engineers were worried about how cloud would impact their role within the organization and what their job might look like in the future,” says Howell. “Today, we’ve realized it gives them more freedom to grow and they are as critical as ever to the success of our organization.”
The shift to the cloud enables the infrastructure team to deliver greater value rather than getting sidetracked by low-level commodity items such as managing hardware failures or applying patches. Many of the company’s best infrastructure architects are now its best cloud architects—a testament to how well this major transition has been managed.
A “work from anywhere” strategy
Looking to the future, Rentokil Initial will continue to explore new ways to ensure that technology matches its people’s ambitions. As a business with a “work from anywhere” strategy, Rentokil Initial staff are often field based, using mobile devices to update records and print paperwork on the go. By deploying VMware Workspace ONE® and VMware Carbon Black Cloud™ at its hybrid security operations center, it now has even more control over these devices, centralizing device management for greater visibility while reducing the threat of cyberattacks.
This benefits not only Rentokil Initial customers through faster and more responsive provision of new services but also internal teams, who can now access data quickly and efficiently. Now, employees can focus on adding real value to the business and Rentokil Initial customers, such as through the development of innovative IoT-connected traps that can automatically detect pest infestations.
Partnering with VMware has helped Rentokil Initial integrate innovative solutions while taking a thoughtful approach focusing on user experience, business continuity and digestible, incremental change. VMware is continuing to support Rentokil Initial to achieve its digital transformation goals while having a positive impact on its single most important resource—its people.