Simon renews its technology infrastructure, migrating SAP to AWS cloud

 

The industrial group has multiplied by 4 the performance of their systems in all areas and, in some transactions, it has even been multiplied by 17.

Simon is the head of an industrial group specialized in the design, manufacturing and distribution of electrical equipment, control systems, smart connectivity solutions, architectural lighting (interior and urban), and electric vehicle charging. Behind all this, there is a leading company in its sector in Spain, with presence in 90 countries, of which they are based in 15 and have production facilities in 9. Simon´s team is made up of more than 4,000 people worldwide.

Simon´s success in the market has been forged over more than 100 years of history and is a combination of work and vision to create experiences for their clients, for which it is essential to invest strongly in innovation and technology. Both of these elements have been key in allowing the company to evolve and adapt to the needs of their customers and the market at all times.

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To achieve their objectives, Simon envisioned their digital transformation more than 10 years ago, and this went hand in hand with the Internet of Things (IoT), making them a pioneer in their sector, which materialized in a successful product that was launched for the celebration of their centenary: Their Simon100iO series of mechanisms. Simon sees this process as a continuous one which implies the constant launch of new digital solutions and services that allow the spaces and facilities to be digitized, as well as enabling new ways of relating and interacting with different stakeholders, and its particular focus on society, with the aim of generating a positive, sustainable and competitive global impact.

This demonstrates the constant effort of the firm to develop new products and cutting-edge solutions.

In this evolution, the IT department has been key because “it has gone from being a support area to be an active part of the business. It has had to move forward to offer the flexibility and agility that the company needed, catching up on the latest technological advances and favoring the transition from a centralized systems model, to exercising decentralized control in which IT offers a framework ", explains David Xicota, Simon's CIO.

The challenge

To accompany Simon in their digital transformation, it was clear that the IT area had to renew its technological infrastructure while modernizing management systems, to improve its performance, reduce maintenance and management costs, as well as support corporate innovation initiatives, an essential key to respond to market changes.

At the time, Simon was managing its operations with a on-premise SAP ERP software, and in view of the possible adoption of SAP S/4HANA, the company had to carry out a cost-benefit analysis to prepare for the migration, either on-premise, or in a private or public cloud environment. The last was the chosen option, since all of Simon's management, the CIO and its Chief Technology Officer (CTO), David Cepa, opted for this alternative: “Not only this solution had to host and maintain SAP's ERP, but also to be able to extend a layer of services around the platform in the near future”.

The solution

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"After this evaluation phase, the organization decided to bring its entire SAP environment to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud platform, because it met the requirements that were being sought" says the head of technology.

It was AWS who recommended Linke as a supplier and technology consultant to plan and execute the project, which included the migration of the production, development and quality environments of the ERP, SAP ECC 6.08, as well as Content Server, SAP Router, and the installation of SAP Solution Manager (SolMan) 7.2.

It was a very ambitious initiative in which a large number of AWS solutions and services were used: Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon Security Groups, Amazon IAM, Amazon VPC, Amazon Systems Manager or Amazon Transit Gateway, among others.

"The project was carried out between mid-2019 and early 2020, with a two-month stand-by period due to internal needs," explains David Xicota.

The migration was carried out using heterogeneous copy process, and in the following phases:

1. Migration from SAP ERP to Sandbox environment, taking an estimate of export times, upload to the AWS platform and import.
2. Migration of the development environment.
3. Migration of the quality environment.
4. Migration of the production environment and Content Server in a simulated environment to re-validate the migration processes of the productive environment and new analysis of the times after having carried out set-up tasks in the ERP on-premise.
5. Definitive migration.

Following Linke´s proposed methodology as a result of their experience and the involvement of their team, they totally make easier the migration with high guarantees of success, minimizing the risks and meeting the deadlines set” says the IT director.

Linke also helped with the overall AWS architecture of Simon's environments, outside SAP, with organization´s ticketing, naming, or access policy level, among other tasks. 

The company has not finally moved yet the process integration tool SAP PI to the cloud, since it prefers to install SAP PO and address the change in a different independent project throughout 2020.

Benefits

Throughout their journey to the cloud with AWS and Linke, Simon has already seen a number of significant improvements. On average, the performance of the system has been multiplied by 4 in all areas and, in some transactions, it has even been multiplied by 17. With these increases, productivity improvements are evident, especially in departments were SAP processes are used on a daily basis, such as the financial department or the marketing department, among others.

Also, as David Cepa points out, there are improvements in navigation and access to the system, since "access times have improved greatly in all units". In addition, new projects are now underway to further define the creation and removal of environments based on usage, as well as to add more computational capacity to perform some of the processes quicker.

"We hope to keep the architecture updated in a more agile way, make integrations with other systems much faster and, above all, facilitate the implementations in other subsidiaries", adds the CTO.

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The future

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The company's intention is to start taking advantage of other AWS services to automate SAP systems and to analyze the ERP data in a much shorter time. "Now we can be more efficient in processes and apply, for example, measurement parameters in manufacturing centers based on production, to assess time/costs through AWS cloud services," says David Cepa.

This has been another important step for the organization and, as David Xicota adds, "our future lies in migrating many more solutions to the cloud and taking advantage of the potential that we now have to integrate our ERP with more SaaS services." In line with this new capacity, the company believes that it will be able to experiment with new tools for business units and digital services "with less effort and at a much more competitive price," he highlights. 

Therefore, today Simon has more flexible architecture and systems that will allow it to respond to the needs that the company requires now and, in the future, in a faster, more scalable and secure way.

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