SunPower has been providing clean, sustainable energy to U.S. households since 1985. With a diverse portfolio of products—including industry-leading solar energy systems, battery storage that can power the whole home and electric vehicle chargers—the company is a leader in home energy solutions.
SunPower empowers its distributed workforce while keeping data secure using VMware Workspace ONE—a VMware Anywhere Workspace solution delivered as a VMware Cross-Cloud service. During the pandemic, Workspace ONE made it easier for SunPower to maintain customer engagement and sustain sales.
To support quickly evolving IT and business needs, SunPower built a private cloud using VMware vSphere and VMware vSAN hyperconverged infrastructure. These solutions improve IT flexibility, enhance business agility and provide the resilience SunPower needs to keep its business running 24/7.
Empowering remote workers while protecting data
A few years ago, SunPower began shifting from a primarily in-person sales model to a hybrid model that incorporates a digital sales process. With the shift, safeguarding sensitive customer and enterprise data online became an even higher priority. SunPower’s information security team needed to give remote employees simple ways to access email, collaboration tools and other resources while reducing the possibility of data loss or theft.
The team wanted to apply security policies consistently across the distributed workforce. “For us, it doesn’t matter what state or country you’re in, whether you are on premises or off. We want to apply the same level of control everywhere,” says Homero Torres, global director of information security, SunPower.
To deliver the right balance of simple access and security, the SunPower team implemented VMware Workspace ONE as a cloud-based service. “VMware Workspace ONE enables us to better protect our email, our data and our largest repositories, including SharePoint and OneDrive,” says Torres. “At the same time, single sign-on capabilities and the app catalog make it easy for our employees to access what they need, securely.”
Staying productive and boosting digital sales during the pandemic
When the pandemic forced more employees to work remotely, SunPower was able to scale up quickly. Workspace ONE enabled teams to keep working and collaborating, whether from home or anywhere else. Today, most of the company’s more than 1,000 employees use Workspace ONE.
The digital workspace solution allowed SunPower to continue to ramp up digital sales at a time when in-person selling was difficult. At the beginning of 2020, only 5 percent of SunPower sales were digital; by the end of 2020, 85 percent of sales were done online.
As more employees worked remotely, the information security team retained control over data and security. Workspace ONE helps keep data secure even when employees are using personal devices. “Workspace ONE allows for separation of personal and work,” says Torres. “That became even more important when everyone went remote.”
Increasing agility and improving business resilience
Just as Workspace ONE helps keep SunPower employees productive during major business disruptions, VMware solutions in the data center give the company the agility and resilience needed to navigate change. Before the pandemic, SunPower implemented VMware vSphere and VMware vSAN, creating a private cloud for running essential enterprise applications.
The VMware-based environment enables flexible operations while reducing costs. “We can run new operating systems on old hardware, and old operating systems on newer hardware. We can also move apps from one place to any cluster or any data center—with just one click,” says Jose Gonzalez, global director of business technology at SunPower. “We worry less about budget because we can better utilize our hardware.”
The SunPower IT team can also respond quickly to support new business priorities. “We constantly get new requests for new resources,” says Gonzalez. “We need to make changes and deploy new systems fast. VMware gives us the flexibility to react as needed.”
Importantly, the VMware solutions also bolster resilience, which is critical when your company helps keep the power on for thousands of customers. “With vSAN, we can easily implement redundancy. If a hard drive fails, we have multiple other hard drives that can take over without losing data or creating any downtime,” says Gonzalez. “We can make sure our enterprise apps stay up and running and our customers always have the support they need.”
Building a flexible, multi-cloud strategy on VMware
As SunPower gradually expands its IT environment into public clouds, VMware technology has provided a strong foundation for a multi-cloud strategy. “The experience of managing a VMware-based private cloud made it easier for us to begin using public clouds,” says Gonzalez.
SunPower initially ran greenfield apps in public clouds but subsequently migrated existing apps from the data center. The public clouds offer increased capacity and resilience for resource-intensive apps. “We have one application that monitors all of our residential solar panel installations—we monitor every panel, every minute. And for that application we need very large capacity and reliability,” says Gonzalez. Today the company runs approximately 40 percent of apps in public clouds, including AWS and Google Cloud, with the rest in the VMware environment on premises.
Looking ahead, the SunPower team expects to deepen its commitment to a multi-cloud approach. “In the next few years, we want to continue developing a strategy that can fully leverage our private cloud and public clouds,” says Gonzalez. “And thanks to VMware, we get to do just that.” ▪