Madrileña Red de Gas Case Study

 

What really convinced us to migrate our data centre was our vision for the future. Moving our infrastructure to the cloud is just the first step.

In 2018, Madrileña Red de Gas (MRG) decided to migrate its data centre to the public cloud. The gas supply company, founded in 2010, today supplies gas to 59 municipalities in the Madrid Autonomous Region, including the capital itself, and already has more than one million customers. In terms of supply points, it is the third largest gas supplier in Spain, currently servicing more than 898,000.

The company, which has been steadily expanding its business and increasing its customer base since day one, is clear that customer focus is key to its continued development and, consequently, efficiency and innovation is not just something it insists on, but an integral part of its DNA.

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The Challenge

In the beginning, the company looked to increase its responsiveness through an IT strategy based on data centre outsourcing. “We are not a business that wants to focus all of our time and effort on technology, so we opted to find a partner who could manage our systems and infrastructures for us. Similarly, we didn’t want to invest in owning IT assets, so we needed an all-in-one solution”, explains Glen Lancastle, the company's Director of Systems and Customer Operations.

Working with a reliable service provider is a strategy that remains viable today, but as time passed, the model proved unable to offer the scalability the firm needed. “Although the service was 100% outsourced, every time we asked for something new, we had to go through the whole process of negotiating costs and delivery times again. We needed to operate within a more flexible framework and move beyond those limitations”, adds the director.

The organization also wanted to reduce recurrent infrastructure costs by broadening its options and moving away from a flat-rate tariff towards a pay-per-use model. “It’s a more equitable and advantageous model for IT management. We were looking for more transparency and flexibility because we knew our usage requirements would change”, says Lancastle.

It was for those reasons that Madrileña Red de Gas invited service providers specialising in private cloud, hybrid cloud, and public cloud to submit their proposals for the company. The proposal put forward by Amazon Web Services (AWS) was selected as the winner. On this decision, the Systems Director explains, “What really convinced us to migrate our data centre was our vision for the future. Moving our infrastructure to the cloud is just the first step. We assessed all the possibilities available to us and considered the response times for our new requirements”.

But, given that 80% of its business is managed by SAP systems including the critically important SAP Utilities (IS-U), the cornerstone software for the sector, and SAP NetWeaver, the development, provision, and management platform for applications across a heterogeneous software environment, it was also imperative for the energy supplier to find a partner who could reliably deliver on specialist SAP cloud consultation and solutions.

To find this specialist the company put out another request for tender. Proposals were submitted by two large consultancies and two smaller businesses. “We found Linke, the chosen firm, through a web search and we thought its knowledge and experience in SAP systems would make it a good fit. We were also attracted by its size. We believed a smaller business could be more responsive and fit in better with our way of working. We might be a large utility company, but in IT we want to match the spirit of innovation, responsiveness, and efficiency you would normally find in an SME”, states Glen Lancastle.

The Solution

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Under the guidance of its partner, MRG moved towards the new model with its sights firmly set on the advantages to be gained from moving its systems to the cloud. In just over two months it had completed 90% of its data centre migration. This was followed by a period of stabilization during which it fundamentally concentrated on the challenges posed by certain applications which, as a result of their architecture, were not compatible with cloud environments.

Both MRG and Linke are aware of the complexity of the project they undertook: “All the systems were moved, including the critical ones. This was a bold move because, as yet, there have been very few one-shot data centre migrations to the public cloud”, reflects the Director.

Now that its journey to the cloud has come to an end, the organization advises that, with any initiative of this kind, it is essential to bear the following in mind:

System up to date

To facilitate the process and ensure the correct transfer of knowledge, it’s important that the original system setup is well documented and up to date.


Preventing delay

Do not regard it as just a technical process. It requires methodology and coordination between different business departments and a multitude of suppliers. This will prevent delays.


Fast solutions

Not all applications will be cloud-friendly, and this should be dealt with before it becomes problematic.


Double check

When the project is finished, a system audit should be carried out to confirm that everything is working as it should be, identify possible areas for improvement, and, of course, to document the new setup.

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“The data centre migration was much more than just a mere technical procedure and it required coordination between many MRG providers and departments. As a result of this, a great amount of business sensitivity was required, both on our part, and from Linke”, summarizes the Director.

The Benefits

Having completed the “lift and shift” process the company is satisfied with the result. “At this moment in time the objectives behind our move to AWS have been achieved and we are where we wanted to be” he continues. Madrileña Red de Gas has cloud consolidated its systems and is now starting to reap the rewards of improved responsiveness when adapting its infrastructures to its changing needs.

Furthermore, the project enabled the company to change its SLA models (Service-level agreements), which are now focused on user experience and linked to business performance. From now on, the company intends to look to the future by taking advantage of a series of capabilities offered to it by AWS.

The Future

In the short term, Madrileña Red de Gas wants to capitalize on cloud by optimizing those areas receptive to increased scalability, flexibility, and responsiveness, whilst at the same time looking to drive down costs. Working alongside Linke as its partner in these new initiatives it aims to rethink its architecture, be able to switch equipment on and off more dynamically and begin using the reservation model offered by the cloud platform.


Additionally, as Glen Lancastle explains, having opted for the cloud the company will consider the services offered by AWS before going ahead with any developments because “in doing so we achieve simplification”. Also featuring in its plans is the use of the cloud to promote initiatives around the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, and other areas, all of which will give the company a competitive edge.

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