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Fleet Management Gains Agility and Analytics Ability with AWS Migration

2020

An Innovative ERP Platform

With 550 vessels and 21,000 employees, Fleet Management Limited is one of the largest ship management companies in the world. However, keeping seafarers and employees connected across 25 global locations is no simple task. Fleet Management was one of the first shipping enterprises to embrace technology when it developed its PARIS platform 20 years ago to facilitate communication and data sharing.

PARIS is used in the same manner as commercial enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. In 2018, Fleet Management started digitizing many of its manual processes by moving them to the cloud. Part of its digital transformation included developing a modernized version of PARIS to support data-driven decisions and enable analytics capabilities. Phase one comprised a lift-and-shift migration of the existing PARIS system, and phase two involved re-architecting PARIS with an integrated analytics platform.

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Using AWS has given us a stable IT backbone and enabled us to develop new products seamlessly.”

Shah Irani
Chief Technology Officer, Fleet Management Limited

Gaining Control of IT

PARIS was previously hosted in a third-party data center in Hong Kong, where Fleet Management is headquartered. Over a period of eight months, the company had three to four outages varying from 30 minutes to 4 hours, which is unacceptable for a critical system. Although the IT team had remote access to PARIS servers, it lacked the visibility necessary to pinpoint the source of issues or predict the length of an outage to give users an idea of when they would be back online.

In addition, Fleet Management’s previous vendor did not provide access to sandbox environments or penetration testing, so the company could not easily check for network and application vulnerabilities. “We wanted to have better control so our IT team could independently determine how to solve a problem or perform backend work without interrupting users,” says Shah Irani, chief technology officer at Fleet Management Limited.

The company identified serverless architecture with microservices as an ideal foundation for a modern, agile technology stack and chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider. “We feel that AWS is the most advanced cloud provider with integrated capabilities and serverless tools, as well as ISO certifications and GDPR compliance,” Shah says.

Improving Resilience with Better Disaster Recovery

When Shah joined the company in 2019, he flagged the need to improve data resilience by centralizing services on the AWS Cloud. As such, Fleet Management migrated its core ERP solution from dedicated hosted servers to AWS. The migration included services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for storage and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle databases. The fully managed Amazon RDS service automates backups of core business data and takes regular snapshots that can be used for business continuity in the event of a crisis or an outage.

Engineers also use Amazon Inspector to identify potential system vulnerabilities and Amazon CloudWatch to enable custom dashboards that monitor all resources on the AWS Cloud and on premises. Now, when engineers see spikes in usage, they can immediately start working in the background to determine the root cause and avoid any disruption to users. “The AWS Cloud platform provides a high level of security from the get-go and has really helped us improve our disaster recovery processes,” Shah says.

Migrating Oracle Financials to the AWS Cloud

Fleet Management wanted to utilize the same AWS security and monitoring tools for other applications such as Oracle Financials, which it was running as part of the Oracle E-Business Suite with another cloud provider. “Our previous setup was costly, and we had minimal knowledge of other cloud platforms for securing and managing instances,” Shah says.

Within a month, the company migrated its Oracle Financials application to the AWS Cloud to leverage native AWS tools and better integrate its financial system with core systems such as PARIS. This migration, in combination with the PARIS migration, has reduced Fleet Management’s monthly maintenance costs by 30 percent compared with its previous hosting costs.

Accelerating Global Performance

Fleet Management now enjoys high availability for all its cloud workloads by tapping on services such as Elastic Load Balancing. Previous peak loads have stabilized utilizing multiple Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, and system security has improved by adding Amazon Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF) to remove direct internet access from its web servers.

Since migrating to AWS, application uptime for PARIS and Oracle Financials has reached 99.8 percent, an increase of more than 2 percent from the company’s previous average availability figures. Now, Shah and his team are exploring the use of AWS Multi–AZ architecture to further support backup and disaster recovery, as well as improve user experience.

Furthermore, using AWS Global Accelerator has resulted in a better experience for Fleet Management employees in locations outside of Hong Kong. Employees abroad can access the company’s systems 44 percent faster than they could with the previous setup. Fleet Management has a second main office in India and chose the AWS Asia Pacific (Singapore) Region to host PARIS, which has been strategic in speeding up performance for key users in India without compromising the experience of its head office in Hong Kong.

Fueling a New Platform with Machine Learning Initiatives

Fleet Management is now in phase two of modernizing its PARIS platform. This is a major initiative to not only replace the current version of PARIS but also to build a full data analytics platform. Development work has already begun for the core operations platform by using a microservices architecture powered by AWS Lambda. In parallel, the company has developed the first version of its data lake on AWS, with dashboards that yield new insights into shipping data.

The business is now working with external institutions such as universities to determine how data can be used to improve operational decision-making. An example of this is a fuel optimization project that uses Amazon SageMaker to build machine learning models based on historical events, which can help predict fuel consumption on regular shipping routes.

Shah concludes, “Using AWS has given us a stable IT backbone and enabled us to develop new products seamlessly. It has made a positive impact on our business, not only in terms of operations but also for future growth.”


About Fleet Management Limited

Fleet Management Limited is one of the world’s largest shipping companies, with more than 550 vessels under management and 25 offices across the globe. The company developed its PARIS system to facilitate enterprise resource planning and is committed to bringing innovation to the transport and logistics sector.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduces system access time by 44%
  • Improves system uptime to 99.8%
  • Lowers monthly infrastructure costs by 30%
  • Enables analytics capabilities to gain insights into data
  • Automates manual processes to improve efficiency
  • Enables faster response time for better user experience

AWS Services Used

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or backend service - all with zero administration. 

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Amazon Relational Database Service for Oracle

Amazon RDS for Oracle is a fully managed commercial database that makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale Oracle deployments in the cloud. Amazon RDS frees you up to focus on innovation and application development by managing time-consuming database administration tasks including provisioning, backups, software patching, monitoring, and hardware scaling.

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Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring and observability service built for DevOps engineers, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and IT managers. CloudWatch provides you with data and actionable insights to monitor your applications, respond to system-wide performance changes, optimize resource utilization, and get a unified view of operational health.

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AWS Global Accelerator

AWS Global Accelerator is a networking service that sends your user’s traffic through Amazon Web Service’s global network infrastructure, improving your internet user performance by up to 60%. When the internet is congested, Global Accelerator’s automatic routing optimizations will help keep your packet loss, jitter, and latency consistently low.

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