Henkel's DevOps triumph - a boost of agility, clear focus and team engagement

Henkel embarked on a journey to enhance quality and engagement across their different business units and functions. The Adoption Framework was meticulously implemented, involving a sharp and precise organizational setup. All stakeholders were actively engaged.

Henkel is a German multinational company specializing in consumer and industrial products. Founded in 1876, Henkel operates globally with a diverse portfolio that includes adhesives, beauty care, and laundry and home care products. The company is known for popular brands such as Persil, Schwarzkopf, and Loctite. With a focus on innovation and sustainability, Henkel is committed to delivering high-quality solutions for both consumers and industries worldwide.

Recognizing the need for improvement, Henkel embarked on a journey to enhance quality and engagement across different business units and functions. Their strategy involved creating a new DevOps team and platform for all IT projects within Henkel's digital business unit, Henkel dx. The goal was to boost development velocity and enhance project quality.

The Challenge

Until 1-2 years ago Henkel had a managed service where the services and development was managed centrally by the cloud architects and all requests for cloud infrastructure were handled manually. This was a time consuming process with lots of manual work and it could take up to several months to get an answer to your request. This led to a lot of frustration and slow progress in projects and an unsatisfying way of working for everybody. Henkel realized that they had to change process and technology to improve engagement with the various business units and allow them to work in a more decentralized way. The task and strategy was to create a new DevOps team and platform for all IT projects in Henkel dx and increase the velocity and improve the quality of the development of projects.

The Solution

cVation suggested a new organizational structure with a Platform team to build and operate enterprise-scale landing zones and a cloud adoption team to assist individual application teams cloud journey. This allowed Henkel to change the operating model to become decentralized and allowed the business units to build and operate independently from the central.  

The model applied with the cloud adoption team means that there's a sharp and precise organizational setup with all the different stakeholders of the projects. The adoption team acts as a project support stream which can scale with different demands from different parts of the business. For the platform team, it was important to build a standardized practice to design, develop and operate the central platform components. The most important paradigm shift for Henkel was to become more agile and incorporate a DevOps practice with a "you-build-it-you-run-it" mindset. 

  • Azure Cloud

  • Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework 

  • Enterprise-scale landing zones 

  • Infrastructure-as-Code (Terraform) 

  • Azure DevOps 

  • Powershell 

  • Azure Policies 

  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud 

  • Azure Update Manager 

  • Virtual WANs and Hubs 

  • Virtual Networks and Network Security Groups 

  • DNS private resolvers and Private DNS zones 

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Simon van Stiphout, Head of DC & Cloud Architecture Team, Henkel

The Process

The process was smooth and the combination of the new organizational setup combined with an experienced partner who has experience helping clients incorporate DevOps practices, helped drive the new ways of working.

The process started with several workshops to align with all stakeholders from Henkel and decide how the new solution should be build, both from an organizational and a tooling point of view. By working closely together on a daily basis, the team was able to quickly solve problems and collaborate with the wider Henkel organization.

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Before I was forced to use my time on networking and security issues which disturbed my focus, whereas now, I can put all my time into the support of our core business units and focus on product development.

Marina Gateva, Head of Data Science Engineering, Henkel

The Result

Using Enterprise-scale landing zones, the individual business units are able to work independently without the constraints imposed by a central IT team. The organizational model with a cloud adoption team that can scale depending on demands, allows the application teams to get support for architecture, provisioning and configuration of resources and deployment of code. By this you can bypass a lot of the hurdles when starting a cloud journey and adopt a proper devops mindset using Infrastructure-as-Code and appropriate logs, monitoring and alerts. This paves the path for scalable and stable applications which are easy to operate. 

The close collaboration between Henkel and cVation ensured that organizational and technical obstacles were quickly overcome. The agile development model used also allowed the team to adapt to changing requirements and change direction when needed. 

The goal for Henkel is to enable and empower individual teams. To achieve this, Henkel and cVation are constantly enhancing the capabilities and security of the landing zones which are then immediately available to all the teams and users.  

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