How Cintas Migrated to Google Cloud with Help from Lemongrass

CIO Matt Hough discusses a lift-and-shift migration that took a year to complete and helped prep Cintas to take advantage of AI and other innovations.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Editor

November 21, 2023

With a history that stretches back multiple generations as a provider of work apparel rentals and sales, first aid supplies, cleaning products, and training services, Cintas is a fixture in many uniformed workforces. It is common to see the company’s trucks across country transporting uniforms and equipment used by medical personnel, safety teams, and facilities services professionals. Serving more than one million customers through more than 11,000 distribution routes, managing IT operations at Cintas is a substantial task -- and a lift-and-shift cloud migration is likewise no small feat.

In this podcast session, Matt Hough, CIO at Cintas, discusses the year-long project with Lemongrass to get some 200 servers and an uncompressed database that clocked in at more than 130 terabytes onto Google Cloud without suffering any downtime.

Cintas has quite the history in business products and services and pretty extensive operations. Matt, can you give our audience more of a sense of Cintas’ scope?

Yeah, I sure will. Cintas is the leader in business services, which means we rent rental garments. We provide first aid equipment, we provide fire inspection and bespoke clothing called design collective, and we help our over 1,000,000 customers get ready for the workday.

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Can you talk about what the IT operations for Cintas were like before we discuss the idea of the migration that you undertook? Cintas’ operations, since you have a very, very real-world component to what you do, how might that be a bit different in terms of the needs and handling all that you go through in terms of the IT side of things?

IT at Cintas was classically a data center type of organization and that was manifested because of the extensive use of legacy hardware and systems. Think AS400 servicing our over 500 locations. With the modern technology today precipitating an ERP system to help us become more efficient, it really pushed the IT organization to change from an order taker, data center type organization to be more of a business partner or business minded IT person. So, we can help provide the technology and the processes to fuel our growth.

As much as you can share with our readers without getting into state secrets, what was the structure of things for you before going into migration and what led to the initial conversations to even begin thinking about the idea?

Well, we had a very large SAP footprint hosted by a partner that had a bare metal type infrastructure. You know, the challenge was we weren’t as nimble as we could have been when it came to increasing business capabilities. We had to make requests to try to increase CPU or hardware or spin up new systems to try out new things. And that was pretty costly and timely. We were kind of stuck in terms of trying to provide value in a quick way. So, we were looking for a partner to help us become a little bit more agile so we can actually add more capabilities quicker.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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About the Author(s)

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Senior Editor

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth covers tech policy, including ethics, privacy, legislation, and risk; fintech; code strategy; and cloud & edge computing for InformationWeek. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years, reporting on business and technology first in New Jersey, then covering the New York tech startup community, and later as a freelancer for such outlets as TheStreet, Investopedia, and Street Fight. Follow him on Twitter: @jpruth.

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