American retail chain PetSmart sells pet products and services in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico from over 1,600 physical locations and online. Until five years ago, the business had its key systems on servers located in a datacentre. When competition from the cloud forced the datacentre to close, PetSmart decided to move those servers to Microsoft Azure.
“At the time, it was essentially another colocation data centre for us,” said Ryan Adams, senior information security architect for the information security team at PetSmart. “We started with a lift and shift of those servers previously run to a new home in Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). We managed and were responsible for patching these servers, while IaaS for configuring network security groups. We then put some web application firewalls from Barracuda in front of those systems to replace those from the physical centre.”
PetSmart soon began taking advantage of other services offered by Azure, making use of Microsoft’s software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service solution to build new capabilities natively within the cloud. The Barracuda CloudGen WAFs were designed to integrate directly into the Azure fabric, so PetSmart could leverage built-in security features without sacrificing any cloud resources. Matching PetSmart’s “lift and shift” mentality, Barracuda CloudGen WAFs allow for the same security architecture used to secure initial data to be applied to new data and apps that are lifted to the cloud.
“Once you have cloud resources available to you, people want to start using them,” says Adams. “There was quickly a development push to use Azure more as a platform. So, for the last five years, we’ve been continuing to learn and mature in this space, moving to what is now a massive underpinning of our e-commerce and physical retail presence. We’ve had to grow quickly, but we’re now in a position where Azure gives us the ability to abstract away some of the underlying management, giving us the time and building blocks to build on top of those systems.”
These capabilities have become more important in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic creating greater pressure on PetSmart’s online systems.
“We’ve moved a significant portion of our corporate associates to work from home,” said Adams. “That means that a lot of those security controls which historically have relied on your location in the office no longer work. However, because we’d migrated our security away from that approach long before 2020 to cloud-based solutions, it doesn’t really matter where the associate is. The same controls apply wherever they are, which has been a big help for us.”
This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.