Case Study: Stemcell Technologies

Trinimbus assisted Stemcell Technologies in evaluating its work strategy by proposing several solutions for an intricate system that will pool in the entire data into a central data warehouse at AWS. The project allowed Stemcell Technologies with the assistance of AWS to automate the network infrastructure and backend services like databases making it easier to deploy environments in another region and set-up test beds and sandboxes for validating major updates for certain services.

Stemcell

Challenge

Stemcell Technologies IT runs their own centralized infrastructure to support the organization's 600+ employees in several locations in the world. To support the manufacturing process and enable different parts of the organization run their business processes, Stemcell uses a number of databases (mostly Oracle and SQL Server), backend/middleware systems (ERP server and various integrations running on Oracle's SOA Suite) and a host of applications supporting the manufacturing and business processes. Most of the infrastructure is virtualized in an attempt to make it easier to manage the growing needs of the organization.

However, with the current growth rate, the infrastructure is showing its limits and needs upgrade. At the same time, the number of systems that need to be integrated to support the business has been increasing over the past years, requiring a number of sandbox and test environments to be created for the validation of software upgrades and new integration development before pushing the changes into production.

 

On top of that, as the business is trying to optimize some of the processes and requires an increased number of analytical data and regular reporting, the current reports based on linked databases, stored procedures and materialized views refreshed at various intervals are not able to sustain the increased number of report requests. A strong need has been identified to bring all of the data into a central data warehouse. This is a significant challenge given the number of internal systems and the strategy to embrace SaaS solutions like Salesforce, which host additional data outside the internal databases.

Evaluating AWS

Prior to engaging TriNimbus, Stemcell evaluated a number of proposed solutions for some of the above mentioned problems, including upgrades to the existing infrastructure, deploying a new infrastructure in a co-located facility or using private cloud/on-demand options from certain vendors. Before deciding if any of those solutions would be suitable, they felt that they should explore the opportunity to run their infrastructure on the cloud.

Together with one of a Trinimbus senior consultant they decided to explore AWS as the cloud infrastructure option that is worth validating. Two key factors contributed to the decision:

  • The availability of a secure networking service, VPC, that could isolate the Stemcell cloud resources and prevent public access, while using a secure VPN tunnel to connect on-premise resources with the cloud resources in a hybrid solution that allows them to gradually implement certain services into AWS without replacing the existing infrastructure entirely
  • The availability of a managed database service, RDS, that supports the major databases like Oracle and reduces the need for IT to manage the database environment and worry about maintenance and backup

TriNimbus helped Stemcell successfully run the following evaluation stages:

  • Testing the feasibility of running the Visual ERP system in a virtual private network inside AWS connected to the on premise network via VPN
  • Implementing a BPEL-based integration between the Visual ERP database and Salesforce, using the Oracle Fusion Middleware within the previously established hybrid environment
  • Implementing a Data Warehouse and BI solution using RDS and Redshift inside the same hybrid environment
  • Researching and evaluating different ETL vendors for building integration pipelines between the on premise or cloud data and the central Data Warehouse

TriNimbus has been able to help Stemcell compare the value of hosting their infrastructure with AWS and envision how can a hybrid cloud strategy help the company grow their business and implement advanced reporting, integration and business process management solutions that would be hard or cost prohibitive in their current on premise environment.

Moving into production

After the evaluation phase, TriNimbus was able to define best practices and policies for implementing and maintaining the AWS infrastructure and design a network architecture that would satisfy the organization's requirements for security, access policies and further growth. Using CloudFormation, TriNimbus was able to automate the network infrastructure and backend services like databases, allowing Stemcell to deploy their environment in another region or easily set-up test beds and sandboxes for validating major updates to certain services. On top of that, TriNimbus helped componentize the architecture and decouple configuration like firewall setup in the various CloudFormation templates, allowing the organization to version their configuration and easily roll new updates or rollback changes to the network stack.

Once the hybrid environment was established, TriNimbus further helped in implementing various development, testing and production stacks for the ongoing BI, BPM and other integration or business process improvement initiatives. Stemcell relies on TriNimbus to provide insight and help build a strategy for migrating additional workloads into the AWS environment and continues to work closely with our solution architects to build further plans for taking advantage of the opportunity that AWS has enabled for the organization. Stemcell has recognized early in the process that moving into the cloud requires proper planning, reliance on best practices and architecture effort to ensure the cloud environment can meet their needs and the use of TriNimbus's expertise with AWS is a key part of their continuous improvement strategy.

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