The First Large Productive
SAP on AWS, Globally

SEACO Global Ltd

“Our performance of SAP on AWS is off the scale. We reduced our monthly billing cycle from four days to one day, and have significantly reduced our overall annual IT costs.”

Carlos Galiano, Chief Information Officer, Seaco Global Ltd

The Benefits

With the migration to the cloud led by Lemongrass, Seaco now runs its entire IT environment in the cloud – including its SAP Business Suite and its other management tools and applications previously hosted in the UK-based datacenters. The majority of these workloads are hosted by AWS in the Singapore region, with additional workloads hosted by AWS in Tokyo and the UK.

By moving its IT environment to the AWS cloud, Seaco has saved more than 50 percent in IT infrastructure and maintenance costs, while obtaining greater business flexibility.

“Our performance of SAP on AWS is off the scale,” says Galiano. “We can provision infrastructure much more quickly and have reduced our costs by $600,000 per year. I couldn’t be more pleased with this transition.”

In addition, the company has significantly improved many of its core business processes. For example, in its previous IT environment, it took Seaco four days to complete its monthly billing process for the 1.2 million shipping containers it leases, presenting a growing problem for the business. By running its SAP systems on AWS in combination with virtual load balancer Mass Data Runtime (MDR) from Basis Technologies, the company has reduced the billing process to less than one day—a time saving of more than 75 percent.

Migrating to AWS has also provided Seaco with a solid platform for growth. And with the ability to obtain and boot new server instances in minutes, Seaco is now positioned to quickly scale capacity both up and down as its computing requirements change.

Another advantage of using the AWS platform is quicker data recovery. Company data, which in the old environment took one week to recover in a disaster recovery scenario, can now be retrieved in less than one day using Amazon EBS, giving Seaco heightened security in the event of a power failure or natural disaster. Moreover, running its systems on AWS has provided the company with greater agility. In the hosted datacenters, when it was expensive to add new infrastructure, employees put off important software upgrades, confining themselves to older versions of software. With the ability to quickly and inexpensively provision more compute capacity, employees now have access to the latest software, opening up more opportunities for innovation. Seaco is also exploring the use of SAP HANA, which will enable the company to harness the power of big data analytics to innovate faster and gain important insights into the business.

“We are constantly looking for innovative solutions to improve our operations and be responsive to our customers’ demands,” says Galiano. “Moving our entire IT landscape to the secure AWS cloud has significantly improved our ability to respond to business requirements.”

Why Amazon Web Services

To keep up with its fast growth, Seaco initially considered building a datacenter on premises at its new Singapore headquarters. Eventually, however, the company began to evaluate cloud-based solutions as a way to save money. After comparing seven infrastructure providers, the company chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) based on cost, security, performance, and trust. “We were looking for ways to improve critical business processes, and AWS offered us a secure, high-performance platform for growth at low cost,” says Carlos Galiano, chief information officer at Seaco.

Seaco engaged with AWS APN Advanced Consulting Partner Lemongrass Consulting, which completed a cost assessment that showed AWS could save the company more than 50 percent in annual costs. “We won the business because we demonstrated AWS could solve the billing run issue for Seaco while delivering dramatic savings and a growth platform for the company,” says Eamonn O’Neill, director of Lemongrass Consulting. “The price point that we were able to offer with Amazon was lower than what anyone could offer.”

Seaco also selected AWS because of its high level of security. The company wanted to make sure that its virtual private cloud (VPC) was well protected from external access and that its site-to-site virtual private network (VPN) was securely encrypted. It also wanted to ensure that its data remained in the region of its choice.

Another consideration was performance—specifically, it was critical that performance match or exceed Seaco’s previous hosted datacenter solution. By implementing AWS, the company was able to reduce the average latency for SAP users nearly tenfold from an average 2,700 milliseconds down to 360 milliseconds. “From a business point of view, performance was key,” says O’Neill. “Seaco wanted to make sure the experience for end users was the same, if not better. And what we found was that performance was far better and that simple, everyday transaction speeds were much faster as well.”

Seaco also selected AWS because SAP had certified its business suite for deployment on the AWS platform. “SAP certification was an important differentiator,” says O’Neill. “In a phone call, SAP executives confirmed that SAP was happy for production systems to run on AWS. That was important for Seaco to hear.”

Lemongrass developed a proof of concept and then began testing solutions for Seaco using AWS. By January 2015, all Seaco workloads had been moved to the cloud including its SAP Business Suite and Microsoft SQL Server database. “It took about 10 hours for the SAP production environment to go live in the cloud, which is very fast,” says O’Neill. “It was a very smooth migration, and end users were very happy with the experience.”

Seaco is running its SAP environment on a combination of on-demand and reserved Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The company is using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for secure, durable, highly scalable object storage and Amazon Glacier for data archiving and online backup. Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) provides persistent block level storage volumes, offering the consistent and low-latency performance needed to run Seaco’s workloads.

For networking, Seaco is using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to connect multiple VPCs, which are separated for security and performance improvements. The company is using AWS Direct Connect to create dedicated connections between its headquarters in Singapore and its other offices.

For administration and security, the company is using AWS Identity and Access Management to securely control access to AWS services and resources. It is also using Amazon CloudWatch to monitor its cloud resources and AWS CloudTrail to track changes made to the network. In addition, Seaco is using Amazon WorkSpaces as a cloud-based desktop for its employees.

The Challenge

The SAP Business Suite is the core solution used by all parts of the Seaco business to manage day-to-day operations, including hundreds of users in more than 12 countries. Seaco had been hosting its global SAP applications—including SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM), SAP Business Warehouse (BW), SAP Process Integration (PI), SAP Portal, SAP Gateway, SAP Content Server, and SAP Solution Manager—in two traditional datacenters in the United Kingdom. The infrastructure in these datacenters was old and slow, and outages were causing many headaches for the business. It was taking the company four days to complete its monthly billing cycle, and the SAP systems remained unpatched for years due to the infrastructure’s lack of agility to run such a project.

When Seaco moved its headquarters from London to Singapore, the company decided to look for a new solution for computing resources. Seaco needed less latency and higher performance than what it received through its traditional on-premises datacenter. In addition, the company was about to acquire competitor Cronos Limited and needed to quickly and seamlessly integrate 100 new employees and double its fleet size while keeping the business up and running.

About Seaco Global Ltd.

Headquartered in Singapore, Seaco Global Ltd. is the world’s largest sea-container leasing company with assets in excess of $6 billion. With offices in 14 markets and operations in more than 80 countries, Seaco provides a diversified fleet of shipping containers to supply all of its customers’ needs. The company, which has been in operation since the 1960s, leases more than 1.2 million shipping containers, including refrigerated containers, tanks, flat racks, intermodal containers, and two-pallet-wide containers—available from more than 300 locations around the globe. Seaco employs 100 people at its main Singapore office, with another 150 employees in other locations worldwide.