November 28, 2022


ERP systems are the core of nearly every large and mid-sized company, and I know from my personal experience that an ERP disruption can hurt business and even the stock price.

Syngenta is a company that has hosted its business-critical applications in what it describes as “traditional, high-cost data centers” and has transformed this into what it sees as a reliable, future-proof, and scalable environment in the cloud.

Syngenta is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of seeds and crop protection solutions with a presence in more than 90 countries and is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. I recently spoke with Christian Bayer, Global Head of ERP/SAP, Data and Analytics at Syngenta, and Infosys Partner, about moving SAP to the public cloud.

Cloud First Strategy

Syngenta made a strategic decision to adopt a cloud-first IT strategy. Hence, Syngenta has decided to end its long-standing data center hosting partnership and move everything possible to the cloud.

The most important and risky part of this move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the ERP system which contains more than 50 SAP systems, including four ERP platforms and multiple SAP terminal systems, providing the backbone for IT To manage Syngenta’s business.

There were many severe outages in core ERP systems before Christian Baer became responsible. Part of the reason is old technology with a track record of not keeping up with hardware updates. Second, hosting in a shared data center environment included shared components that were complex and difficult for the provider to manage.

Christian Bayer’s cloud-first strategy was to get to a place where it had enough control to “ensure that the ERP is as reliable as the water coming out of the tap”. This is a really big goal.

There were other benefits to Sygenta’s move to the cloud. First, it had more flexibility and scalability to support seasonal agribusiness. Syngenta has less than six months of the year that result in 80% of sales, depending on the hemisphere. In the previous hosting model, servers were partially idle during this year’s slow season. The flexibility that Syngenta can get from the cloud is attractive for seasonal businesses.

Additionally, Syngenta can take advantage of cloud provider technology when migrating from existing SAP systems to S/4HANA.

Last but not least, there was an expectation of cost savings. SAP’s move to cloud-enabled infrastructure resulted in cost savings of 28% per year, with a return on investment of 1.5 years. These are impressive savings made mainly through “lift and change” with some update and version upgrades. I was surprised by any idea of ​​saving money in the cloud because this is rarely a reality but makes sense as the company’s infrastructure had to factor in this 80% rise all year.

The most important benefit comes from resilience in the cloud. The speed of building a new test system allows Syngenta to deploy only a three-tiered SAP landscape across development, QA, and production, and roll over more test systems when needed.

The multiplicity of clouds spreads risks

Like many companies I speak with, Syngenta manages workloads in both AWS and Microsoft Azure. Azure is used for commercial applications simply because most of them are based on Microsoft technology. AWS hosts ERP, all R&D, and a data lake.

With fully understood managed cloud infrastructure comes fewer risks. It is not completely risk-free, as evidenced by the outages in the Frankfurt area due to the high temperature.

But designing and designing best practices for managed cloud infrastructure with AWS provides future improvement opportunities such as multi-zone setup, additional layers of security, and improving connections with the network architecture. With a highly available ERP environment, the focus is now on the location of the network architecture, cloud data center communications, and network hub. The entire network architecture is equally important in ensuring the resilience of the IT infrastructure.

AWS Migration – Old World to New World

The project took a year and a half, with more than 50 applications and more than 600 terabytes of business data migrated to the cloud. Many systems required upgrades to the latest versions, and some were discontinued (eg BW BI Accelerator) that were not cloud compatible. Other applications have required discussions with SAP to enable support on AWS (eg Business Objects Financial Consolidation (SBFC)) or are in the process of migrating to cloud-supported versions such as Master Data Management (MDM to MDG).

Establishing a connection with more than 300 third parties from the cloud data center was a major effort that involved relaying FTP servers and VPN tunnels.

Smooth operation during the transition phase and updating of the integration layer with more than 1,500 interfaces was a critical phase of the project. Syngenta said Infosys was able to manage this smoothly.

The SAP PO environment has been updated and upgraded to the latest version (7.5) and migrated to AWS using infosys. This initial step was carried out in three phases: 1) server upgrade and migration to AWS, 2) external interfaces migration and validation, and 3) internal interfaces migration and validation. This phase was the basis for the rest of the relocation project which took over a year but established a platform for success.

Infosys . relationship

Infosys has been a strategic SAP partner of Syngenta for over 19 years.

The long-term partnership included several major transformational projects. Christian stated that Infosys will “always do whatever it takes to cross the finish line and never let you down” – that’s a strong endorsement.

Syngenta worked with Infosys to bring Agile DevOps into SAP support, the first company to offer scale-to-scale capability in SAP

Highlighted by Vibhuti Dubey, Senior Vice President and Head of SAP Services at Infosys “Our primary goal was to implement this complex transformation in a risk-free manner. We positioned our architects to assist the project with wave planning, leveraging our extensive experience and leveraging Infosys Cobalt, a suite of services, solutions and platforms that act as a force multiplier for cloud-powered enterprise transformation. “

The IT team at Syngenta and Infosys conducted systems validation and testing to reduce the need for business engagement.

wrapping

Syngenta’s Migration is a wonderful story. I talk to many clients, and a few of them have saved money that goes to the cloud. Syngenta operates in a highly seasonal domain, so the ability to add and remove computing capacity at will, without restrictions, leads to cost savings. Syngenta can ride demand curves and don’t always pay for peak usage.

Syngenta can scale the infrastructure to support peak season but also reliability. Christian notes, “When was the last time Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook were down? We should expect availability close to 100% from a hardware perspective.” All sites go down but not by much.

Syngenta continues to update its software. Step by step, old systems are being replaced by new technology. The Finance Department was the first to successfully launch S/4 Hana Central Finance. Each business unit aims for a single global SAP instance. Working with Infosys, the transition to S/4HANA has already begun.

Disaster recovery scenarios and operability of platforms with near-zero downtime are now potential next targets. The goal is to run an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, so that production lines don’t stop anywhere in the world – just as dependable as water from a tap.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

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Moor Insights & Strategy founder, CEO, and chief analyst Patrick Moorhead is an investor in dMY Technology Group Inc. VI, Dreamium Labs, Groq, Luminar Technologies, MemryX, Movand



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