Using AWS has paved the way for us to target a wide range of small and midsize businesses that require cost-effective, flexible, and dynamic access to SAP ERP technologies.
Andy Waroma Founder, Cloud Comrade

Businesses and government organizations rely heavily on software to automate key functions such as customer relationship management, procurement, inventory management, and accounting. However, purchasing and installing the servers, storage, and networking systems to run these systems in-house can be expensive, time-consuming, and can divert workers from core business activities. Businesses and organizations, particularly small and midsize companies needed an alternative way of accessing the functionality and performance that their larger counterparts use to perform these functions efficiently.

Cloud Comrade, an AWS Partner Network Consulting Partner that provides tools and expertise to enable businesses and government organizations migrate to the cloud, has worked to address the issue. Prior to launching the company in 2014, Cloud Comrade’s founders had previously collaborated with an organization that provided servers, storage, networking, and associated systems to deliver enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to small and midsize clients. Many of these systems were based on market-leading SAP ERP software, in particular the SAP Business One product.

However, this version of SAP Business One system required clients to make substantial up-front investments without knowing the type or size of workloads that the infrastructure needed to run. In addition, acquiring the resources to provision a new customer meant the onboarding process could take up to two weeks to complete. Furthermore, if an incident or outage occurred, clients sometimes would have to wait until replacement components or systems could be ordered and installed before their SAP system returned to full operations.

“SAP applications are mission-critical and are often thought as the ‘heart and soul’ of a company. Therefore, these systems need to be available at least 99.95 percent of the time for companies to conduct their business,” says Andy Waroma, founder of Cloud Comrade.

The company also saw that as cloud services matured, clients were increasingly willing to migrate their SAP systems to the cloud so they could control their costs. Cloud Comrade decided to deliver its SAP Business One HANA service to customers from the cloud and started researching the market for an appropriate service. “Our key requirement of a cloud provider was robust, scalable, and highly available services,” says Waroma.

Cloud Comrade had already partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide some services to clients and viewed AWS as a market innovator. “AWS is a leader in developing new services, and it encouraged customers running SAP to move their systems to the AWS Cloud,” says Waroma. “Furthermore, AWS was one of the first cloud providers to have data centers and regions in Singapore. This gave our customers’ the confidence that our SAP Business One service would be delivered to them from a location relatively close by, minimizing latency and potential for service disruptions.”

However, the size of the AWS virtual instances needed to run SAP Business One powered by the SAP HANA in-memory database made the service too costly for many small and midsize clients. These clients needed at least 20 users each per virtual instance to be cost-effective. Cloud Comrade overcame this problem by delivering a multi-tenant SAP Business One Cloud platform on AWS, which had the relevant SAP certification for several Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance types.

“In 2016, we started talking to AWS and some SAP Business One partners about building a hosted SAP Business One platform on the cloud,” says Waroma. “With the support of SAP and AWS, we delivered a platform that enabled us to seamlessly onboard clients of any size from any industry, and the clients to run SAP Business One with SAP HANA on their own, without incurring too great a cost.”

The platform went live in October 2016 running in an AWS infrastructure comprising compute, storage, and domain name system services in an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). The business is using a new generation of memory-optimized Amazon EC2 instances, specifically an r4.16xlarge EC2 instance with 64 vCPUs, 488 GiB, and 20 GB networking performance. Powered by hardware running dual-socket Intel Xeon E5 Broadwell processors, this instance was ideal for meeting the requirements of the SAP HANA database. Cloud Comrade is also using AWS CloudFormation to create and manage related AWS resources.

“Deploying AWS CloudFormation ensures that when we opt to provide the SAP platform to businesses in countries such as Australia and India, we don’t have to rebuild our infrastructure and applications from scratch,” says Waroma. Furthermore, Cloud Comrade is using AWS CloudTrail to track and enforce governance and compliance across its AWS infrastructure.

AWS provided extensive help to Cloud Comrade, including advice on partnering, introductions to prospective partners, and technical support. “We would not have been able to deliver our multi-tenant platform without AWS,” says Waroma.

The Cloud Comrade multi-tenant platform enables small and midsize businesses to access all the features and functions of SAP Business One running on SAP HANA. As of mid-2017, the business has onboarded about 1,000 customers to its platform from a range of industries and sectors—including financial services, online gaming, and manufacturing.

Cloud Comrade expects continued growth in the number of customers using its service, and the business has gained the ability to scale to support 10,000 customers or more if needed. “From our perspective, we would never have been able to support that number of customers using traditional technologies,” says Waroma. “Using AWS has paved the way for us to target a wide range of small and midsize businesses that require cost-effective, flexible, and dynamic access to SAP ERP technologies.”

Waroma appreciates the value and potential of the Cloud Comrade SAP Business One HANA service running on AWS. “With the Intel architecture supporting our new SAP Business One HANA service running in the AWS Cloud, there is no minimum user requirement per AWS virtual instance. This enables us to considerably widen the share of prospective clients.”

Cloud Comrade can now onboard a new client in about 20 minutes, enabling businesses to reap the rewards of SAP Business One almost immediately after they sign up to the multi-tenant platform. Clients can then expand their use of the service in line with the expansion of their businesses and scale down during leaner periods. “They get state-of-the-art technology and market management services from us at a fraction of the cost of an on-premises environment,” says Waroma. ‘That has enabled us to very quickly establish a niche in the market and to plan for future growth.”

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Cloud Comrade provides tools and expertise to enable businesses and government organizations migrate to the cloud. Its consulting services include technical advice and assistance, advice on the cloud’s role in business strategy, and user training. The Singapore-based startup, which is an AWS Partner Network (APN) Consulting Partner, also provides services to manage and optimize clients’ cloud environments after deployment.

For more information, contact Cloud Comrade through their website or through their listing on the APN Partner Solution Finder.