AWS for Industries

EDF Completes Groundbreaking Migration to Run Oracle Utilities Solution on Amazon RDS

Electricity provider EDF in the UK (EDF) is preparing its business for growth. The company has one of the largest market shares for providing electricity to businesses in the United Kingdom, and it continues to expand its offerings. In 2019, EDF launched an initiative to modernize the IT supporting its business solutions. Its infrastructure needed to be scalable, high performing, and reliable to stay competitive as it anticipated to significantly increase its business-to-business customer base by 2024.

EDF previously housed its business solutions on premises, running Oracle Utilities applications—Meter Data Management and Customer Care and Billing—using Oracle Exadata as its database service. However, its on-premises infrastructure was reaching capacity and nearing the end of its support period, and EDF was keen to migrate to the cloud.

In 2018, EDF chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider and set a strategy of using AWS for its future IT landscape. To address the technological obsolescence of its on-premises infrastructure and prepare for future growth, EDF migrated its business solutions to AWS. “By migrating our Oracle Exadata–based billing application to AWS, we did something that, to my knowledge, hasn’t been done elsewhere,” says Mark Teuton, senior manager of business solutions at EDF. As a result, the company lowered IT operational run costs by 52 percent, improved performance, and reduced its carbon footprint using more energy-efficient infrastructure.

Choosing a Future on AWS

The migration had several key requirements. First, EDF needed scalability and performance from its infrastructure. “Using AWS gave us the flexibility and agility that we needed,” says Teuton.

Additionally, EDF wanted to continue using Oracle Utilities solutions because they provide the functionality that the company needs to differentiate itself in a competitive marketplace. Thus, the project would involve migrating a proprietary application and a large data footprint to AWS, and it would need to cause minimal impact to customers.

Migrating to AWS supported EDF’s overall strategy. “The marketplace access that comes with being on AWS, the maturity of its compute, the native-build capability that it provides, and the degree of different solutions on AWS that we could use made it really appetizing for us as an energy retailer,” says Teuton.

Setting Up for Success

Given its business criticality, EDF performed a proof of concept to verify that it could run the Oracle application on AWS with the same or better performance measurements as running them on premises. The company tried the proof of concept on both Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides secure and resizable compute capacity for virtually any workload, and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle—a fully managed commercial database that makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale Oracle deployments in the cloud. In this process, EDF mirrored its Oracle Exadata workloads against an AWS implementation on Amazon RDS for Oracle. “We were able to run real production workloads against our Oracle Exadata benchmark on Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS,” says Teuton. “It gave us clear evidence that we would be able to run our workloads on AWS.” EDF decided to run its application on Amazon RDS for Oracle, reducing operational risk, manual scaling and backups, and maintenance costs compared with an on-premises infrastructure.

EDF made two other key decisions. First, it decided to upgrade from using two on-premises Oracle solutions (Meter Data Management and Customer Care and Billing) to a cloud solution that combined the functionality of these two services into one: Oracle Customer to Meter (C2M). The C2M application continues to be supported by Oracle Utilities, and because EDF uses databases on Amazon RDS for Oracle, it continues to receive Oracle support across its entire technology stack. Second, EDF selected two partners for its transformation: Navisite, an AWS Partner and expert in Oracle migrations, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), also an AWS Partner, which would lead the overall delivery and development activities.

Getting Expert Input to Prepare for the Migration

Following the successful proof of concept, EDF began addressing a number of customer challenges, including how to perform the cutover of the business-critical application with minimal downtime. This required high confidence in the capabilities of the newly upgraded solution and the integrity of the huge amounts of customer data migrating to the cloud. The company also had to deal with the timeline pressure of needing to go live before the major sales round in the fall.

To overcome these challenges and take advantage of the benefits of migrating to AWS, EDF developed a strategy where it built the new application in the cloud and could ultimately load it with historical and live data. The company could run it in parallel with the existing application for a period. Then, once the new application had been shown to be operating in line with the existing application, EDF would complete the cutover.

aws rds

By developing in the cloud, the company could spin up and down multiple environments rapidly as needed for development, integration testing, performance testing, and training. This provided greater flexibility to overlap program phases instead of having to wait to order new on-premises servers or rely on repurposing servers between phases. As a result, EDF mitigated any timeline challenges.

To facilitate the migration, EDF used the AWS Schema Conversion Tool (AWS SCT), which makes heterogeneous database migrations predictable by automatically converting the source database schema and a majority of the database code objects to a format compatible with the target database. EDF also used AWS Database Migration Services (AWS DMS), which helps businesses migrate databases to AWS quickly and securely. “When we began using AWS DMS, we didn’t have internal knowledge and skills in the service,” says Teuton. “AWS provided experts in AWS DMS and specialist solutions architects to help, which we benefited from significantly.” Throughout the project, AWS DMS support engineers from two different time zones were allocated to provide continuity of support. AWS Partner Navisite also dedicated expert resources, working alongside the EDF and TCS delivery teams.

Given the huge volumes of data and the number of environments, EDF also had to resolve other challenges. For example, the connection between EDF’s on-premises environments and AWS was reaching maximum capacity. The AWS specialist solutions architect team for databases supported EDF in overcoming this network constraint—along with managing huge delta changes that were produced on the Oracle database—to keep the source and target in sync and aligned with EDF’s approach to testing by starting and pausing AWS DMS replication during testing cycles. Database specialist solutions architects performed an AWS Well-Architected review on the target platform to help EDF build a resilient, scalable, and cost-efficient database system. Through this support, EDF saw the benefits of running its Oracle Exadata–based workloads on Amazon RDS for Oracle.

production and pre-prod architecture

EDF was able to run two billing cycles covering 20 million subscribers in a single run on Amazon RDS for Oracle, something it had never achieved running applications on premises. EDF benefited immensely from the flexibility offered by Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), an easy-to-use, scalable, high-performance block-storage service designed for Amazon EC2. With the ability to switch within seconds between storage types io1 and gp2 for different database access patterns on Amazon EBS, EDF can continue to deliver improved service-level agreements for refreshing downstream systems or urgent database clones for production issues. On Amazon RDS, the company has addressed maintenance and administrative pain points that were time consuming on premises and slowed its innovation. Using the Amazon RDS for Oracle Multi-AZ deployment option, EDF is protecting its critical workloads with an improved recovery time objective of fewer than 120 seconds and an improved recovery point objective of zero data loss without any additional feature or licensing costs. Now, it can focus on optimizing the application and database settings to improve the end-user experience rather than dealing with issues using Oracle on premises. And by automating maintenance on Amazon RDS for Oracle, EDF can now test and release Oracle patches in a timelier manner and with no manual effort from the team.

Migrating Business Services to Amazon RDS for Oracle

After migrating key datasets and capturing the changes for 10 days, EDF migrated its Oracle workloads to AWS over a single weekend in November 2021. After synchronizing everything on the Friday before the cutover, the company took the business solutions offline so that no further changes could be made. On Saturday, the team performed an audit of reconciliation points across the dataset, validating the functionality and nine billion rows of data. By Saturday evening, the team had switched production over to AWS. After catching up on business-as-usual activities in the new production environment through Sunday, EDF had successfully made its business ready for user access on Monday morning.

The migration involved billing and meter data from 200,000 business customers. The company migrated 15 billion rows of data totaling 15 TB with virtually no functional or operational impact. “The only impact customers saw was that they couldn’t get into their accounts for 48 hours,” says Teuton. “The service we were offering our customers as a result of this transformation was the same to them the day before the migration as the day after.”

EDF continued to monitor the migration for several months after the weekend cutover to verify the service would handle some key annual events in the UK energy market. These events require a heavy amount of compute power to reconcile customer meter data with billing against specified periods and then either charge or reimburse customers based on their consumption during those periods—the ideal use case for an architecture that’s designed to scale up for peak needs and then scale back down again. EDF completed this process for the first time on the new infrastructure in March 2022, proving the new environment was working and officially closing the migration project.

Making Informed Decisions

Strong executive leadership with representation both from the business leaders and IT team allowed for rapid and informed decision-making. A dedicated EDF program team was the beating heart of the migration, setting the tone and providing direct knowledge of the business. TCS and Navisite teams worked with EDF for the duration of the project, even though much of the team met face-to-face for the first time during the go-live weekend.

Throughout the process, the involvement of AWS was directed by the customer solutions manager, who provided oversight of all activities and made sure support and expertise were available. AWS ran multiple AWS Infrastructure Event Management (AWS IEM) activities, which established that, at critical times of the migration, the AWS team was ready to provide rapid, informed support.

Committing to the Rest of the Journey

EDF is continuing to improve its workflows through regular performance reviews. The company is also using Savings Plans, a flexible pricing model offering lower prices compared with on-demand pricing, and Reserved Instances (RIs), which businesses can use to save up to 72 percent over equivalent on-demand capacity, to further reduce operating costs.

“Because we are backed by AWS, we can make bold choices with the confidence that we will be able to provide our customers with excellent service,” says Mark Askew, head of solutions and architecture at EDF. “This flawless migration has created a springboard for new services to our customers as well as an acceleration of our AWS adoption.”

Meanwhile, EDF is already planning for more modernization projects. Future developments will include reentering the gas market and migrating more parts of the company’s infrastructure to AWS.

“From a carbon footprint perspective and a cost perspective, both were big drivers for us to migrate away from being on premises,” says Teuton. “We’re not finished yet, but this migration has certainly set the pattern for EDF to confidently commit to the rest of its journey toward reducing the carbon impact of our IT.”

Mark Teuton

Mark Teuton

Mark Teuton is a Senior Manager of Business Solutions for EDF, based in the South West of England. With over 20 years of IT solutions delivery experience across a broad range of technologies, Mark is passionate about helping businesses achieve their strategic goals. In recent years, Mark has been heavily engaged in solution modernisation programmes to migrate business critical workloads to public cloud – which enable the benefits of agility, scalability and improved performance.

Martin Price

Martin Price

Martin Price leads Customer Solutions Management for AWS in the UKI across Power, Utilities, Manufacturing and Automotive customers. Martin and his team work across AWS’s largest and most strategic customers, driving their cloud transformation journey and advising on best practices in people, change management and organizational readiness. Martin has over 20 years experience delivering complex change across multiple sectors.

Asif Mujawar

Asif Mujawar

Asif Mujawar is a Manager for Field Database Specialist Solutions Architect based out of Dubai. A database professional with broad expertise and experience across the different industry verticals where he has been seen as a trusted advisor in the database space. In his role, he helps customers to unlock opportunities by facilitating their cloud migration journey with an indexed focus on modernisation and democratisation of data.