GROWMARK Migrates Mission-Critical SAP Apps to AWS Cloud in Record Time

Cloud Host Rigidity Limits Company Growth and Resiliency

In business since 1927, GROWMARK is a North American agriculture cooperative that provides energy, agronomy, and grain marketing products and services to the US and Ontario, Canada. The company faced challenges in its cloud-hosting environment when SAP applications did not perform as expected, and the hosting service faltered, presenting risks to the company. Its hosting provider proved inflexible when GROWMARK would request changes that required adaptability. That rigidity began to hinder the company’s growth plans. The situation became untenable, and GROWMARK realized that moving to a new cloud environment would be necessary to ensure system resiliency. Eric Fisher, director of enterprise IT systems for GROWMARK, says, “Our business has critical, time-sensitive processing needs and uptime requirements. We needed a more stable and resilient environment from which to run our operations.”

GROWMARK began to explore other cloud hosting options. It had firsthand experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS) from running financial applications and other IT environments for the company's co-op members and systems. Then, at an AWS Summit in Chicago, the GROWMARK team met Lemongrass Consulting, which specializes in implementing, migrating, operating, and automating SAP on AWS Cloud. Lemongrass is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN) with an SAP competency. “We liked that they focused solely on AWS and the tooling and automation of SAP,” says Fisher. “SAP applications aren’t cloud-native, and it takes experience to make them work well in a cloud architecture.” That experience was essential to GROWMARK, which uses more than a dozen mission-critical SAP applications, including SAP ERP, SAP Supply Chain Management, SAP Transportation Management, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence, SAP Data Services, and SAP Process Orchestration.

 

“Migrating our SAP applications from one cloud host to the AWS Cloud was one of the fastest, most successful migrations I've ever seen.”

– Kevin Milburn, Chief Information Officer, GROWMARK


  • About GROWMARK
  • Benefits
  • AWS Services Used
  • About GROWMARK
  • GROWMARK, an agricultural cooperative, began in 1927 and is headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois. It provides agronomy, energy, facility planning, logistics products and services, and grain marketing and risk management services.

  • Benefits
    • More than a dozen mission-critical SAP applications migrated in a 4-month window
    • Memory-optimized cloud instances improve SAP application performance
    • New cloud-hosting environment ensures system resiliency
    • Added storage capabilities enhance data analytics and aggregation capabilities
    • Cloud infrastructure allows flexibility to support future growth
  • AWS Services Used

Seasonal Demands Require Short Timeline for Migration

As an agricultural company, GROWMARK must be aware of the seasons and how they impact its co-op members, vendors, and customers. The cloud migration had to take place during a four-month span from early November to early March. "Our biggest concern was the timing," says Fisher. "We had a short window to make this SAP cloud migration happen, and everything had to be live and stable before spring of 2019. Every participant in this project committed to that timeline and made it happen."

Three different environments—development, quality assurance, and live production—were created to safely execute this cloud-to-cloud migration. “Migrating our SAP applications from one cloud host to the AWS Cloud was one of the fastest, most successful migrations I've ever seen,” says Keith Milburn, chief information officer for GROWMARK. “Sometimes, when you go quickly, you leave a lot behind. But the way this process was managed from start to finish made me feel confident and safe that everything was being done properly.”

The GROWMARK team was certain of the technical abilities of Lemongrass and AWS, but it was their soft skills that allowed that confidence to bloom. "Lemongrass and AWS did an excellent job of communicating and coordinating resources. That included meeting with and updating us regularly, so that we all stayed on the same page throughout the process," says Fisher. “That’s essential when you have a migration that’s this mission-critical and dependent on a specific timeline.”

Cloud Migration Paves Way for Future Capabilities

Migrating from the previous cloud host to AWS required creating Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, which provide secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. GROWMARK needed R4 and R5 instance types, which are memory-optimized and therefore well suited for the memory-intensive SAP applications the company uses. The GROWMARK team also appreciated the assurance of high availability across multiple North American AWS Availability Zones, a capability not offered in colocated data centers or other cloud providers that the company considered. A highly available infrastructure paired with an automation layer provided by Lemongrass also strengthened GROWMARK’s disaster recovery plans by making their systems more fault-tolerant with failover capabilities.

The company also took advantage of Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers scalability, security, and performance. It anticipates that Amazon S3 and other AWS products will play a role in its long-term goals for enhanced data analytics and aggregation, particularly for planned innovations tied to the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and expanded e-commerce. The ability for a cloud host to enable those long-term goals was important to GROWMARK. "By migrating our SAP applications to the AWS Cloud, we have chosen to work with an organization that rolls out new services and features on a regular basis," says Milburn. “That focus on growth and flexibility tells us we have selected a provider that understands our company's strategic goals.”


Learn More

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/sap.