Schneider Electric is an international energy company operating in more than a hundred countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Its current mission is to increase energy sustainability as it provides services to businesses and residences. Within the past ten years, Schneider has acquired forty or more digital-first companies that strategically advance its goal.
Schneider’s IT modernization, ongoing since 2015, includes integrating all parts of the expanded organization into a common suite of business applications centralized on its SAP platform. As part of a larger cloud-first strategy, Schneider is currently migrating that SAP platform from a collocation in southern France to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Running its business applications for sales, provisioning, supply chain, and finance in the cloud will enable Schneider to agilely update its offerings.
Xavier Deprat, global head of SAP infrastructure operations, had multiple business objectives for moving SAP operations to AWS. In addition to improving run costs, eliminating technical debt and helping to reduce carbon footprint, Xavier says, “we wanted to increase the resiliency of our overall SAP landscape through the multi-region, multi-zone resources and other offerings that AWS brings to the table. Also important for us is the flexibility we gain to support business process evolution. The cloud gives us more agility to do things like create a test system or duplicate a landscape so the business can modify its landscape more easily. Kyndryl is helping us realize those benefits.”
A partnership built on mutual success
Most companies of Schneider’s size would tip-toe into a large cloud migration with one or more proofs of concept involving low-risk workloads. But Xavier was confident his team could move the company’s SAP platform without such tests.
It was a bold decision. After all, these were mission-critical systems.
“If one of our SAP instances is not working, the people in the factory or distribution center cannot work,” says Xavier. “So, we decided to work with a trusted partner who knows Schneider, understands which systems are critical, and can help us manage and mitigate the risks. That partner is Kyndryl.”
The Kyndryl team has a seven-year history with Schneider’s SAP operations, with Kyndryl playing a key role throughout the relationship. Kyndryl’s initial mission was to migrate the SAP application landscape from an earlier outsourcer to a Kyndryl datacenter. In addition to managing the entire migration, Kyndryl was responsible for designing the hosting infrastructure and managing the IT stack up to the SAP application layer.
After migration, Kyndryl quickly stabilized operations. This is the period during which Schneider had completed numerous acquisitions worldwide to further its digital services business. Kyndryl helped integrate ERP operations from the acquisitions, unifying Schneider’s business.
Xavier then had Kyndryl support a two-year quiet period for Schneider’s SAP infrastructure operations; neither major infrastructure changes nor application-related business process improvements would interrupt business operations.
Kyndryl made that happen by delivering on an SLA of 99.999% uptime and moved the needle on their Net Promoter Score (NPS) from 5.6 to 10 as given to them by the Schneider business. Kyndryl introduced numerous efficiency measures, including AIOps innovations to streamline management. Kyndryl also embedded experts within the Schneider team to learn the IT fluctuations related to the business together. In parallel, that combined team planned for a migration to AWS.
“I believe we made a good choice to select Kyndryl as a partner for our migration to AWS. We know the team that we are working with, and we trust them to orchestrate all the activities involved. They’ve been extremely flexible.”Xavier Deprat, Head of Global SAP Infrastructure Operations, Schneider Electric
Mission #1: Don’t disrupt the business
Xavier’s top priority for the SAP migration to AWS was to ensure uninterrupted business operations. While he patiently partnered with experts on the team to solve challenges related to keeping planned downtime as low as possible, Xavier did not waver in the plan to migrate test, development and production instances directly to AWS. His confidence was rooted both in Schneider’s long experience with AWS and in Kyndryl’s knowledge of Schneider’s critical systems and its business.
“We have put in place an approach that allows us to stay in a kind of hybrid mode. While we are migrating to the cloud, we’re still maintaining the existing landscape in the hosting datacenter to enable in-process business projects. So, the planning of each go-live is a real challenge. Each one has been different,” Xavier explains.
Plus, each landscape migration had to take place within an allotted 48-hour over-the-weekend migration window. That took thorough preparation and test runs. If the test run determined that the time frame was too long, the Kyndryl team adjusted its data migration methodology to ensure compliance with the migration window.
Orchestrating a multi-enterprise team effort
The first step in planning on the Schneider side was to define the organization and operating model—one that would support the goal of continuous business operations. Determining who would be responsible for what was a major component of the overall migration plan.
“We all had to learn to work together with the new model, which led us to spend time on designing that model as well as designing the implementation,” Xavier notes, adding that moving mature mission-critical application infrastructure to the cloud carries some complexities around infrastructure design within the AWS environment.
Schneider’s internal team designed and built the AWS landing zone, a highly secured environment with strict rules about firewalls, connectivity, and security groups. In architecting the new operating environment, Kyndryl leveraged its well-established framework for cloud operations through a structured mapping of client SLAs and operational requirements to the target solution. This framework includes extensive Kyndryl intellectual property—assets, accelerators and reference models. These helped the design and migration processes run smoothly.
Kyndryl provided specifications that AWS and Schneider technical teams used to provision the new infrastructure in the landing zone. Moving each SAP landscape to AWS involves the three partners carefully coordinating connectivity. Post-migration, Kyndryl now manages the SAP landscape on AWS.
A different Schneider IT organization, the global delivery arm of Schneider Digital, takes care of application management for the platform. An incumbent external partner is responsible for SAP application management. And, of course, there is the community of key business users who perform testing when needed.
“All of this ecosystem needs to be properly managed for each part to be ready to execute on time. That’s far more challenging than the infrastructure or technical components,” Xavier notes.
“At the beginning, it was a little bit messy and complex. But once we agreed on the model and moved to execution, it’s really flying. This is where I believe we made a good choice to select Kyndryl as a partner. Everything from Kyndryl has been well delivered and on time, and they’ve been extremely flexible and accommodating to help us manage this challenge.”
Going cloud-native is next
Up next is learning how to manage the cloud SAP environments in a cloud-native way. Because the migration has been primarily a lift and shift effort, Xavier says, the deployments are still being managed as they had been on-premises.
“We have some ideas on how we can improve our costs by adjusting our provisioning to the right size. That’s one of the next steps we have in front of us to really achieve our TCO improvement promise.”
Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Intel have collaborated for over 17 years to develop flexible technologies and software optimizations tailored for mission critical enterprise applications. Intel® Xeon® processors provide the foundation of many cloud computing services deployed on AWS and this collaboration allows AWS Partners to help customers migrate and modernize their applications and infrastructure to manage cost and complexity, accelerate business outcomes, and scale to meet current and future computing requirements.