FortisOntario, first Canadian company to implement Linke AWS Connector for SAP

 

The utility company FortisOntario has achieved, thanks to the implementation of Linke AWS Connector for SAP, a new electronic invoicing solution in the cloud that offers annual savings of approximately 40%.

FortisOntario is a Canadian electric company operating across Canada and based in Ontario. It has strategic partnerships with other companies in its sector and in addition, owns and operates other electricity distribution companies: Canadian Niagara Power Inc., Cornwall Street Railway Light & Power Company Ltd., and Algoma Power Inc. In total, it serves around 65,000 customers in the north of this region.

With a client base of this size, the company issues around 50,000 electronic invoices a month, a process that has so far been carried out by an external provider. However, they would now like to manage this internally, integrating the system with their new self-service portal for customers. It was during this project that Linke AWS Connector was adopted, a SAP and AWS certified solution developed by Linke´s I+D department.

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The Challenge

FortisOntario uses SAP systems in an on-premise model, specifically the company's solution (SAP IS-U) for the utility industry, from which its IT team supports not only the daily operations of FortisOntario but also to the distribution companies it owns.

One of the critical processes is the issuing of invoices that, for years, has been carried out as follows: the invoice is created in the billing module -SAP IS-U Billing-, the documents are sent from the management platform using Adobe Document Services, and through SAP PO, to an external print provider that prints, sends and stores the full PDF version for bill presentment.

However, FortisOntario decided to perform these processes internally to increase their reliability, reduce costs, and allowing the invoices to be integrated with tools that improve the customer experience, such as the self-service portal, from which you can monitor electricity consumption, view payments, etc. Ultimately, the idea is that the PDFs generated in SAP IS-U Billing are managed within the company, stored and made available to the customer.

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The Solution

Taking over the internal administration of the operation required a new approach to document management, so the client chose to migrate SAP Content Server from its facilities to the cloud to achieve the flexibility, scalability, and agility that was needed to store and ensure the availability of such large number of documents.

Among the platform options, the service chosen was Amazon S3, from AWS, and following the suggestions of its consulting partner, Linke’s AWS Connector for SAP was implemented, which allows the systems to be integrated with the native cloud services of AWS cloud platform. “Our partner suggested that the total cost of development and integration would be much lower if we used out-of-the-box technology, such as the Linke add-on, to take full advantage of SAP features, without having to develop a custom solution" said Geoff Visentin, Manager of Information Technology.

Linke's solution, which is based on the SAP NetWeaver platform, allows FortisOntario to use the AWS storage service as an extension of its SAP systems to store documents and archived data through the SAP Archivelink interface – that is to say, it allows the storage of all invoices in Amazon S3 and the ability to take advantage of lower costs and better reliability.

FortisOntario carried out the project in a matter of days with Linke´s support. The implementation process of the add-on was "quick and easy", said the company, which describes the support of the Spanish firm as "incredible". “The product installation time for each SAP environment lasted, on average, one day. Even with Linke's staff in Spain, we worked together efficiently to achieve the results that we needed in just a few weeks”, added Visentin.

The Benefits

Since then, FortisOntario has seen a number of advantages, one of them being the low cost of invoice storage in the AWS service, at around $0.50 per month. As well as a great price, there are also the benefits of the control over the billing process and the high availability of data.

As Visentin explained, "we hope to see a significant cost reduction when opting for this 'in-house' solution, and also greater reliability and control over our document storage. In addition, the costs of storing in AWS are much lower than if we opted with an on-premise storage system to achieve the capacity we estimated. Finally, the security and availability of data in the cloud is much more than what we could achieve in our facilities”.

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Overall, the new e-billing solution brings a savings of approximately 40% per year compared with the legacy solution, and the savings will increase as more customers opt for the paperless option.

The Future

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Given the results achieved in this project, the Canadian company is evaluating the possibility of moving the archiving of business data to AWS using Linke´s AWS Connector for SAP in the future.

Furthermore, in the short term, they also have plans to migrate their SAP environment to the cloud.

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