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August 27, 2020

How NetSuite Moved to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to Keep Up with its 30% Growth Rate

By: Edward Cheng | Senior Program Director, NetSuite Cloud Ops

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Oracle@Oracle: Our journey to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

Watch the webinar now to get the full story.

When we were first faced with the challenge of moving NetSuite applications from eight classic co-location data centers around the world to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) - Oracle's Gen2 Cloud, it was a little daunting. Where should we start? How do we plan for it? How do we prepare our staff to support such a move?

NetSuite is a very large SaaS ERP application with more than 21,000 customers running their mission critical business functions on our platform. Our business is expanding rapidly at 30% YOY overall growth. Before Oracle Cloud, we had been managing our co-location data centers for over a decade and were constantly working on expansion. Expanding data centers is a complicated task, but we have done it enough and are good at doing it. To open a new co-location data center in a country, just the technical part of the work, will generally take us about nine months with around 50 engineers to complete the work. With our growth rate, you can imagine we are constantly racing to meet our business needs.

In the beginning of our migration to OCI, we started with a "lift-and-shift" approach. We were impressed by how quickly and easily we were able to move our numerous applications onto the Cloud platform. It only took us a couple months before our core services were up and running in the Cloud. But we also realized that such a simple approach would limit us to using the Cloud as another data center - we would not be taking advantage of the myriad of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) technologies available on OCI for our customers. We went back to the drawing board and started to work with Oracle Cloud solution architects to re-envision the future of NetSuite with Oracle Gen2 Cloud.

In the following few months, we re-architected our solution for the native cloud; applied Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) technology and Terraform to automate wherever we can; and evaluated and adopted many new technologies available on OCI in areas like compute, storage, networking, connectivity, databases, security, disaster recovery, service monitoring and others. We also engaged Oracle Education to roll out training classes for Oracle Cloud technology for our engineering teams. It took us another few months to implement this native Cloud deployment design. By the end of 2019, we successfully launched NetSuite in the two OCI cloud regions in Frankfurt and London as active-active pairs for backup and recovery.

A Cloud blueprint for growth

This deserves a big round of applause, but what is most valuable is that through this process, we have developed a repeatable blueprint, including software codes, playbooks, operating standards, and procedures that would enable us to open new regions around the world in a shorter time with fewer resources, all based on a consistent data center model with guaranteed quality, and be connected in the same architecture for better and easier operations management and monitoring. We are now in the process of deploying to a total of 12 OCI cloud regions in the next 18 months. Today, upon our business needs, we can spin up NetSuite in an OCI region in two days and get it operationally ready in two months.

With the adoption of OCI, NetSuite enjoys much greater agility in serving our customers and hosting their data securely near where they are located. The distributed regions of OCI enable us to provide on-demand services such as maintenance and patching in a more convenient window within the proximity. By segregating customer databases to more and smaller virtual data centers, we greatly reduce the 'blast radius' and limit the effect of incidents to a smaller group of customers. With Oracle's commitment to deploy the latest and fastest computing and storage technologies in OCI, NetSuite is poised to offer our SaaS platform on the highest performance machines. The variety of PaaS available on OCI provided our customers with endless expansion on new technological solutions on the Cloud, some of those that we are exploring with customers include Big Data, Machine Learning, and AI.

Lessons learned on Cloud migration

NetSuite's journey to OCI is both rewarding and stimulating. It enables us to reinvent our Cloud architecture to take advantage of the latest Cloud technologies. It also offers an opportunity for our engineering teams to grow and innovate in the public cloud space. Through this process, we learned a few important lessons that might be applicable to other SaaS groups considering onboarding OCI.

Due to the flexible and open nature of OCI, it is important for the group to consider and choose the best strategy to migrate the service based on their timeline and resource conditions, whether to do a rapid lift-and-shift, a graduate expansion and adoption, or to re-architect a Cloud native solution. If multiple applications are involved, a detailed planning to phase the migration in stages would be helpful. For a large SaaS group, moving to the public Cloud requires a lot of changes. It impacts capacity planning, asset management, hardware procurement, budgeting, operations, and more. Businesses must be careful while managing change, and most importantly, take the opportunity to upgrade employee skills with Oracle Cloud Training. OCI has 25 regions open today, with plans to have a total of 36 regions open around the world within the next year. For global businesses, it would be prudent to migrate with the goal of automating wherever possible, in order to open new services and take advantage of our many OCI regions.

These are just some of the benefits we've achieved and lessons we've learned from Oracle NetSuite's migration to OCI. To get the full story, watch the webinar replay now.

Watch the webinar.

Senior Program Director, NetSuite Cloud Ops
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