Much has been written about the entrance of the “Millennial Generation” into the workforce. For them, the Internet has been a fact of life since their formative years. For those of us who did not grow up with the Internet, it is nevertheless difficult to remember how different life was in the days when the (land-line) telephone was the fastest way to reach someone, and the best way to transmit documents was something called the facsimile.
The Internet has indeed transformed how life is lived, and it seems that the Internet transforms itself every few years, providing new challenges and new opportunities.
Building Brazil’s Internet
Paulo Scrideli’s career has mirrored the history of the Internet in Brazil. In 1996, at the age of 24, he was involved in the startup of Universo Online (UOL). “The Internet was not yet in Brazil at the time,” he recalls. “We were in fact a pioneer commercial ISP and content provider in Brazil.”
In those days, Scrideli explains, “one of my first jobs was to create systems that were able to convert information from newspapers to HTML for use on our portal. We had to build the system from the ground up, as there were not specialized tools for this at the time.”
From that auspicious beginning, Scrideli has surfed the Internet wave, taking advantage of new opportunities each time the technology has matured to the next level. After UOL, he operated his own company for two years, helping businesses build their presence on the Web and developing some of Brazil’s first e-commerce sites. As broadband access became more in demand, he helped to launch NetStream, a company that developed “last mile” fiber networks in Brazil’s major cities.
From hosting to outsourcing
When NetStream was sold in 1999, Scrideli and six of his colleagues left to form a new startup, Optiglobe, with the help of U.S. venture capital firms. “Our American partners had a business plan to build Internet data centers and provide hosting services for all of Latin America,” Scrideli explains. “My first mission was to lead the technology infrastructure creation for the data centers.”
After Optiglobe secured $600 million in capital and vendor financing and built massive data centers in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires, the Internet bubble burst. “We had to reinvent the company to use our data centers’ capacity,” Scrideli remembers. “We converted our non-stop architecture to support mission-critical IT operations for non-Internet related business and started to build an IT outsourcing company.”
Over time, properties outside Brazil were divested and Votorantim Novos Negócios (VNN), which had owned approximately 5 percent of Optiglobe’s total shares, bought a 100 percent stake of the Brazilian operation and began building one of Brazil’s largest outsourcing firms.
VNN merged Proceda with Optiglobe to form TIVIT in 2005, and TIVIT merged with a BPO over voice company named Telefutura in 2007. Today, the company provides IT solutions integrated with call center and business process outsourcing services to some of the most important firms in Brazil.
And Brazil is just the starting point. In the last two years, TIVIT has signed its first offshore contracts for remote infrastructure management and systems development. “Creating the same kind of differentiation in this new competitive environment is a big challenge,” Scrideli notes.
Managing rapid data growth
TIVIT’s revenues are growing by 50 percent annually, and “our data volume has grown by 180 percent in the past year to 1.7 petabytes” says Scrideli. “We have no agenda when it comes to hardware and software platforms for our customers’ data. As a result, we look to standardize on infrastructure solutions that are compatible with a variety of systems.”
For data protection, TIVIT standardized on Veritas NetBackup, with a variety of agents and options to optimize backups and provide disaster recovery. The firm has maintained backup-and-restore success rates well over 99 percent while minimizing backup staff time. “Our success depends on our ability to scale efficiently,” Scrideli says, “and NetBackup is an important piece of our strategy.”
Symantec storage management and high availability solutions work together to help TIVIT meet its service level agreements, which promise 99.99 percent availability and provide maximum flexibility for its customers with regard to storage allocation and data migration. “Veritas products from Symantec have enabled us to meet our high standards with relatively simple administration,” asserts Scrideli. “In the typical environments that TIVIT supports, these solutions are necessary to assure the service levels required to win our clients’ business.”
Securing and managing endpoints
TIVIT has standardized on Symantec Endpoint Protection for security for servers, desktops, and laptops. “If a customer wants to use another antivirus product for their hosted servers, we will let them,” Scrideli relates, “but Symantec is our standard.”
Altiris Client Management Suite helps TIVIT to roll out applications quickly and efficiently across the company, but the solution is even more valuable in the firm’s helpdesk and field services lines of business. By enabling administrators to deploy, manage, and troubleshoot systems remotely, “Altiris helps us be more competitive by allowing our staff to solve more problems remotely and on the first call,” says Scrideli. “Without it, I would have to hire 20 to 30 percent more field service staff.”
A diverse career
Scrideli, who holds Mechanical Engineering and International MBA degrees, has worn a variety of hats over the years at the firms he has served—from operations and support to IT infrastructure and telecommunications, from information security to strategic alliances and marketing.
“In 1996, a 64K link was everything that UOL had available to provide information to thousands of users,” Scrideli recalls. “Now, the scale, the numbers, and the Internet itself are something completely different.” Nowadays, UOL has about 1.7 million subscribers and a monthly average of more than 15 million unique household visitors in Brazil.
“In the same way, eight years ago, it was very difficult to convince CIOs to have their IT environment not 5 or 10 meters from their desk, but rather miles away. Today, a lot of them see the value in having a strategic partnership with a company like ours.”
“The CIO role itself, I believe, is completely different today,” Scrideli adds. “A good CIO today is not just an IT manager, but it’s someone who understands the business and tries to find ways to use IT to create differentiation for the business.”
And you can bet that as things evolve further, Scrideli will be riding the next wave.
Mark L.S. Mullins is a managing editor of CIO Digest and manager of Symantec’s Global Customer Reference Program team.