Tidewater Unlocks Efficiencies and Achieves Cloud Centricity on AWS
Tidewater owns and operates one of the largest fleets of offshore support vessels in the world, spanning 60 countries. In 2015, crude oil prices suddenly declined by over 50 percent, impacting the business of GulfMark Offshore (GulfMark), which would be acquired by Tidewater in 2018. Searching for a way to streamline its business during the sudden recession, GulfMark migrated its SAP infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS), driving new levels of cost savings, efficiency, and innovation.
After acquiring GulfMark and seeing the significant benefits of this SAP migration, Tidewater chose to engage in a large-scale digital transformation by going all in on AWS. Through its modernization journey, Tidewater has significantly reduced its IT footprint and improved its security posture, efficiency, and capacity for innovation.
Our objective as a company was to save $45 million, in part by unlocking efficiencies on AWS. We actually saved $65 million. Not only were we successful in completing the acquisition and onboarding to the SAP environment in regard to time and cost, but we also beat our targeted savings goal.”
Chief Information Officer, Tidewater
Searching for Efficiency Opportunities
Founded in 1955, Tidewater delivers goods to offshore oil and gas rigs, providing everything from cargo supplies to materials used in offshore drilling. The company uses enterprise resource planning solutions from AWS Partner SAP to manage critical workloads across all functional areas.
Prior to its acquisition by Tidewater, offshore supply vessel company GulfMark was using a third-party hosting service to support its SAP system, but the hosting service required expensive hosting and support fees. At the onset of the 2015 energy recession, GulfMark had a mandate to optimize all IT infrastructure costs so that it could continue to support its global operations. The company realized that using SAP on AWS, a solution that helps businesses run their applications on AWS, would significantly reduce IT infrastructure expenses by over 50 percent. “GulfMark’s project initiated our whole journey of using AWS services,” says Lee Johnson, chief information officer at Tidewater.
In 2018, Tidewater encountered a challenge when it acquired GulfMark. During the acquisition, Tidewater chose to adopt GulfMark’s large SAP application environment as its global system of record. “The objective was to consolidate our global SAP systems and processes on AWS for both Tidewater and GulfMark, and we only had 9 months to do it,” says Johnson. “We went from an on-premises environment with manual processes to a cloud environment with automated processes in 9 months and exceeding our merger cost savings target.” Tidewater’s migration to SAP on AWS came with another corporate mandate for cost savings. “Our objective as a company was to save $45 million, in part by unlocking efficiencies on AWS. We actually saved $65 million,” says Johnson. “Not only were we successful in completing the acquisition and onboarding to the SAP environment in regard to time and cost, but we also beat our targeted savings goal.” The results were impressive, and Tidewater wanted to continue its pattern of innovation by modernizing its IT infrastructure on AWS. The company chose to go all in on AWS and facilitate an organization-wide digital transformation.
Unlocking Business Benefits by Going All In on AWS
By using AWS services, Tidewater has digitized and automated manual tasks, unlocking significant benefits in cost efficiency and productivity. For example, Tidewater modernized its functional areas by storing financial documents on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. These transformations helped the company improve its efficiency and operational simplicity and create a paperless enterprise. “Tidewater is now one of the most efficient vessel companies in our sector,” says Johnson. By migrating to AWS, Tidewater has reduced its general and administrative expenses for 10 consecutive quarters.
Tidewater has significantly improved its security posture on AWS, which is crucial in the highly regulated oil and gas industry. Moving from legacy data centers to the cloud significantly reduced the need to perform manual security updates and removes any reliance on outdated hardware or software. Now, to monitor its IT servers, the company uses multiple AWS security solutions, including threat detection services that continually monitor AWS accounts and workloads for malicious activity and deliver detailed security findings for visibility and remediation. If its system detects a security threat, Tidewater can deploy a response using cloud security management services that perform security best practice checks, aggregate alerts, and facilitate automated remediation. Using these solutions, Tidewater can quickly block a potential security threat, improving its disaster recovery capabilities without impacting business continuity.
As of October 2021, Tidewater has migrated its last on-premises production applications and a total of 38 servers from its Dallas data center to AWS. By the end of this modernization project, the company will have decommissioned two data centers and migrated over 95 percent of its global IT servers to AWS. By going all in on AWS, Tidewater has significantly reduced its technical footprint and significantly reduced the manual labor necessary to manage and maintain its IT infrastructure. Its employees no longer need to spend time on manual tasks, and the company now has the time and resources to explore additional digital transformation opportunities, increasing its capacity for innovation.
Continuing to Create Value for the Energy Sector
By modernizing its IT infrastructure on AWS, Tidewater has unlocked key benefits for efficiency, productivity, and cost savings. In the future, the company will continue to modernize its business by developing advanced capabilities in the cloud. For example, Tidewater plans on using machine learning, data analytics, and artificial intelligence technologies to further improve its competitiveness in the support vessel industry.
“I told my team that we are not in the server business—we are in the value creation business,” says Johnson. “Now that we are all in on AWS, we can focus on innovative, value-generating projects. It’s amazing how much we are able to save as a global company by migrating all IT infrastructure to AWS.”
Tidewater owns and operates one of the largest fleets of offshore support vessels in the world. Founded in 1955, the company has more than 60 years of experience supporting offshore gas and oil exploration and production around the globe.
Benefits of AWS
- Reduced general and administrative costs for 10 consecutive quarters
- Exceeded cost savings goals by $20 million
- Migrated all production applications and 38 servers to AWS
- Will migrate over 95% of global IT servers to AWS by end of project
- Reduced manual labor through automation
- Simplified operations by decommissioning two data centers
- Encourages employees to focus on value-generating tasks
- Continually monitors infrastructure for security threats
AWS Services Used
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
SAP on Amazon
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