With 600 consultants worldwide, msg global solutions is a leading international IT partner for the insurance and banking industries. The firm, with headquarters in Regensdorf, Switzerland, was founded in 2008 and has 18 companies across 14 countries. Through its Nexontis Consulting subsidiary, it offers SAP-based solutions to help insurers gain greater access to data and meet regulatory compliance, including IFRS 4 and Solvency II requirements.
As a provider of solutions to the demanding insurance and banking sectors, msg needs to deliver services quickly and efficiently to keep customers happy. But despite improvements to its on-premises IT infrastructure, msg couldn’t get the performance it required. “Our IT wasn’t fulfilling the needs of either internal users or external customers,” says Borivoje Jankovic, CIO of msg global solutions. “Deployment times for SAP systems were taking too long, as were change requests.”
He continues, “We needed to speed up infrastructure delivery to help users shorten time to market for demos, products, and services.” To achieve this, msg invested heavily in its IT infrastructure. “Although we greatly improved the service and processes got faster, we started to reach the performance limits of our existing on-premises setup.”
There were additional challenges for the firm, such as controlling costs, avoiding investments in new hardware, an allocating costs to the appropriate business units for accurate reporting.
To improve services, msg knew it had to look beyond its existing on-premises infrastructure. “Searching for a way to enhance our processes and speed up the delivery of services, we investigated the biggest cloud infrastructure provider in the world—Amazon Web Services,” says Jankovic. A key factor for msg was finding a provider that could deliver reliable performance and availability worldwide. It also needed a provider that could offer a fully SAP-certified HANA environment on a public cloud platform. Amazon Web Services (AWS) fit the bill.
msg now runs the SAP for Insurance solutions, powered by SAP HANA, on multiple AWS instance types for both the SAP applications and HANA database layers. It is currently using 40 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. These instance types provide internal users and msg customers with access to its demo consulting cloud, PoCs, and training systems.
The company uses Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to connect to the msg global datacenter, giving the firm’s employees direct access to SAP systems. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is used for data backups, including backup of the HANA database. Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) Provisioned IOPS (P-IOPS) volumes are used for storage, while AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps msg manage users and authorizations.
“We’re also testing AWS WorkSpaces so we can provide our customers and internal users with secure desktops for accessing various SAP systems within Amazon VPC,” says Jankovic.
For high availability, msg global leverages multiple AWS Availability Zones (AZs) without the additional cost of maintaining a separate datacenter.
The diagram below illustrates the msg global SAP consulting cloud architecture:
The company is realizing significant benefits with AWS that weren’t possible on its on-premises infrastructure. “Speed, cost, and performance were issues with our previous infrastructure, but by using AWS we’re lowering time to market, saving money, and running systems on demand," Jankovic says. "Plus, we’re able to provide support to our customers quickly and cost-effectively with the reassurance that the environment we’re using is highly reliable and secure.”
Speed of system deployment is one of the most significant advantages for the firm. Jankovic continues, “With AWS, deploying new systems and implementing change requests are now much easier. For example, it used to take us between two and three weeks to deploy a new SAP system, but now it takes just five days. And this is getting faster as we use the platform more and more.”
Cost savings have followed, and will continue to accumulate as the impact of the AWS infrastructure is felt organization-wide. “Our processes are simplified with AWS, which is giving us big savings on IT maintenance," says Jankovic. "In addition, our infrastructure costs are massively reduced. We estimate that together these two factors will save us nearly $500,000 over the next five years.”
An additional benefit is that it’s now easy to allocate costs to the owners of the infrastructure. “It’s less of a management burden to control and report on infrastructure costs, which is also saving time for our staff,” says Jankovic.
With most new systems, training IT staff is a significant time and cost factor, but this wasn’t the case with AWS. Jankovic says, “Our IT professionals could apply existing skills to operate and maintain our AWS infrastructure. They found the platform extremely user-friendly and easy to operate. After just one month, all of our IT staff were completely comfortable using AWS.”
Satisfaction with the AWS system is high companywide. Jankovic concludes, “We haven’t had a single complaint or issue raised regarding our new system. This speaks volumes.”
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