Oracle enables forward-thinking organizations to take advantage of Public Cloud’s capabilities, as well as aligning our own commitment towards sustainability. We are proud to be able to empower a global leader such as FLSmidth with the necessary tools on its mission towards zero emissions.
Author: Jan Pedersen, Technical Information Architecture
My name is Jan Pedersen, and I was part of the local Danish team that, together with our off-shore Migration Factory, completed this exciting project. I want to share some of my experiences from this project where Oracle Consulting was instrumental in moving entire data center workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) so that the data centers could be shutdown.
My particular role in this project was to act as an information architect. When a company like FLSmidth makes the decision to move to the Public Cloud - and in this case Oracle Public Cloud - a journey is about to begin. In this article I want to look at the different aspects associated with this journey.
Let me start with telling you more about FLSmidth. It was originally a one-man engineering consultancy company, which mainly dealt with steam engines and mill machinery. The founder was Frederik Læssøe Smidth. In 1889 FLSmidth established the Aalborg Portland Cement Plant. In the following years the company expanded rapidly across the globe by establishing offices in London (1890), Paris (1893), New York (1895), Berlin (1901) and more. FLSmidth created new and improved designs of the tube mill and rotary kiln and together these revolutionized cement production. As other companies in the expansion-phase, FLSmidth acquired companies and expanded their business into other areas, such as: engineering, steel, aerospace, building materials and more – seven sectors in total. Today FLSmidth is focusing on their core-business areas: cement and mining industries.
As a company with activities all over the globe, it’s important to have a reliable IT-infrastructure. Not only that, but due to the very nature of the business areas that FLSmidth supports, it is impacted by fluctuations in construction and mining. So having a flexible infrastructure was becoming more and more important. By having its own data centers, they could ensure that it had sufficient and reliable IT-infrastructure to support the company’s activities. As time passed more and more decentral IT-solutions and infrastructure had appeared and so the costs and complexity in maintaining not only the central systems, but also the decentral systems, were increasing, whilst flexibility was suffering. Something had to be done.
FLSmidth had many different Oracle-based workloads running, both centralized in their data centers as well as decentralized. Some of these included data warehouses, multiple ERP-systems where some had external integrations, engineering-systems and more. Oracle was approached by FLSmidth to see how we could potentially help them in moving this workload to public cloud.
One goal for FLSmidth with this move was to reduce its carbon footprint by leveraging the flexibility and elasticity of public cloud, as part of its journey to become a greener company. Oracle Consulting have over the years had different engagements with FLSmidth, so some familiarity with their procedures and infrastructure was already available. Oracle Consulting was chosen to perform the initial investigation into how FLSmidth could move its workloads to cloud.
Together with the customer we began a process of discovery to identify all workloads associated with Oracle-assets, whether directly or in-directly. FLSmidth wanted a Lift-and-Shift approach to avoid business disruption, which may have been the result if application modernization was part of this transformation from on-premises to cloud. As part of the discovery process a Lift-and-Shift strategy was developed. This strategy would later on form the basis for the resulting project. The strategy also contained information on the computing resources that FLSmidth had been running the workloads on: a mix of PowerPC-based AIX and Linux and VMWare running on top of Intel-based servers. Running on this mix of platforms were several business-critical applications; multiple ERP-systems for different regions and a financial-platform, to mention a few.
An important aspect when embarking on such a journey, is for the customer – in this case FLSmidth – to establish an organization to support the transition. FLSmidth established direct contact between the platform owners responsible and the migration team. This type of direct contact can’t be underestimated, as the people with in-depth knowledge of the involved applications and platforms were one of the major factors of the success of this journey. Another, no less important, factor was the test-organization that was established by FLSmidth. This involved people globally at most levels of the company and came especially into play when planning for the go-live.
The majority of the applications had a go-live on a Monday, meaning that from Friday at end-of-business the migration-team performed the last synchronizations and updates, then the test-organization performed their magic efficiently. Important functionality in the applications was tested and all results were documented, and if a last-minute variation was detected the migration-team stepped in, analyzed the issue, fixed the variation and handed the environment back to the testers. After the successful completion of the tests, the Steering Group had to approve or reject the go-live request.
With an approved go-live, the application in the cloud was activated and the on-premises application was deactivated. This happened so that everything would be ready for the business when opening on Monday morning. It’s important to remember that as FLSmidth is a global company this meant Friday end-of-business day (US) to Monday morning (India). This could only be achieved through a great teamwork between FLSmidth and Oracle – we worked as one team, not as provider and customer.
The actual migration of applications and platforms to Public Cloud seamlessly is only one part of the success. There is another equally important part that is sometimes overlooked. When moving to Public Cloud, it’s easy for an organization to continue with the habits acquired from and defined in a time with on-premises operations. I usually to compare it with either leaving the lights on 24 hours a day, or not turning off the water – because you’re paying a high fixed price. Moving to a consumption-based platform then, it’s important to turn off the lights or water when you’re not using it, otherwise you’re paying for something that you do not benefit from. An example could be a pre-production system that is configured similarly to the production, this pre-prod-system could be used 5-10 days a month, so why leave it running for the entire month? If running on your own datacenter then this wouldn’t have a significant financial impact, but in a consumption-based Public Cloud, it does.
Oracle provides not only capabilities for our customers to take advantage of Public Cloud flexibility, but we also ensure that the knowledge on how to use it - is transferred to the customer. It’s important to understand that when a company engages with Oracle Consulting to assist in its move from an on-premises world to Oracle Public Cloud, we do our utmost to ensure that the customer has been given the know-how to create procedures and governance that utilizes the important features. When fully implemented, such governance will make it possible for a company to be even more cost-effective compared to on-premises and gain more agility in its IT-infrastructure usage – which definitely is necessary in this day and age.
The common journey for this project began in the fall of 2018 and ended in December 2019. At this point Oracle Consulting would allow FLSmidth to continue the cloud-journey, making sure that FLSmidth had the tools and skills to continue safely.
As an environmentally responsible company, FLSmidth has also been able to achieve a substantially smaller carbon footprint as its governance surrounding IT-consumption mandates that systems are right-sized, which is possible in OCI since monitoring tools are available and only active when workloads needs to be executed. FLSmidth has not only taken the first steps on a cloud-journey, but also a journey to a significantly greener future.
Read more about the sustainability program, Mission zero from FLSmidth