Bulutistan grew its cloud business over 9000%
Technology vendors constantly iterate with new product platforms and features. While this brings new technical advantages to customers, there’s a downside: sometimes, it can leave them facing challenging infrastructural upgrade costs.
Bulutistan turned this challenge into a business opportunity using the cloud to offer clients its SAP HANA as a service solution. This provided an easy migration path for the mission-critical ERP systems that power their businesses and supply chains. With the help of IBM advanced technology architecture, it captured a significant share of its local SAP market and earned the 2020 Beacon Award for Outstanding Solution Driving Client Innovation and Transformation with IBM Power Systems.
Turkey’s first cloud services integrator
Formed in 2015, Bulutistan is one of Turkey’s success stories. The company is the first cloud services integrator in the country and has enjoyed growth of over 9600%* since it was founded, making it the fastest-growing technology company there. It serves 12 of the biggest 20 holding companies in Turkey through its two data centers there, offering services including Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), virtual desktop integration (VDI) and disaster recovery.
According to the company’s CEO Begim Basligil, much of its growth stems from a groundbreaking project that Bulutistan engineered in 2017: the provision of cloud services, based on the SAP S/4HANA system. Bulutistan saw a business opportunity in 2017 as SAP continued to move away from its legacy R/3 commercial ERP solution to offerings based on its HANA high-performance database and analytics system. One of these was S/4HANA, a collection of services from SAP’s Business Suite written from the ground up for HANA.
Adopting S/4HANA wasn’t as simple as swapping out the application, explains Basligil. Whereas the business suite could run on various vendors’ databases, S/4HANA was HANA-specific. It also came with a long list of hardware requirements.
“Changing the software would not be enough,” he says. “SAP also created a list of hardware providers along with the designs needed specifically for hosting S/4HANA.”
SAP’s hardware reference architectures had strict requirements for database and application servers, storage devices and networking components. Unless its clients’ systems met those needs, they couldn’t get the performance guarantees they needed.
Many companies were not ready to adopt this new equipment, yet SAP had given them a deadline for upgrading their infrastructure to support its software, Basligil continues.
“That’s exactly where our business idea came in and where we intervened via a partnership with IBM,” he says. The company offered customers a hosted SAP S/HANA solution that would enable them to move to an operating expense model instead of burdening their balance sheet with capital expenditures. A simple monthly fee would give them the migration path they needed while helping keep costs low.
Building the hosted S/4HANA system
Bulutistan needed to build its hosted S/4HANA solution using verified hardware and evaluated all candidates, including both Intel-based vendors and the IBM Power-based architecture.
“After that assessment, IBM outweighed all the other rivals,” recalls Basligil. The company outperformed its rivals both in its commercial approach and its technology.
IBM’s technology outclassed the competition. The Power architecture offered double the performance of the Intel hardware, helped in part by IBM’s PowerVM virtualization solution. “We liked the capabilities of PowerVM, which spread capacity between different logical partitions, sharing and increasing it if needed,” Baligil explains. “It had features that were not present or were not as powerful in other systems.”
Security was also an important consideration for a company that would be serving blue-chip clients. Bulutistan checked for PowerVM-related vulnerabilities on record and found none.
The company installed Power S850, IBM Power S922, and IBM Power E950 servers at its data centers in Turkey running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. They connected to IBM Storwize V7000 and V5000 storage systems. IBM PowerHA provided high availability to protect against unplanned downtime.
A valuable partnership
The other area in which IBM impressed Basligil was its approach to its channel partners. The company treated it as an equal. “IBM approached us as a partner, whereas with the other vendors, it was a more customer-vendor relationship,” he continues.
IBM gave Bulutistan a single point of contact on its IBM partner management team that handled everything, making the relationship simple and smooth to manage. The company helped it to organize marketing events that generated substantial new business. It even introduced Bulutistan to SAP-related hardware, software and consulting partners who gave it valuable referral business.
The IBM connection also helped Bulutistan to overcome one of the biggest challenges when selling this proposition to customers: market perception. Three years ago, the market didn’t welcome SAP 4/HANA running in a cloud environment because it was a paradigm shift in a critical IT area. A combination of IBM’s powerful branding and Bulutistan’s expertise enabled it to gradually win over the market by proving itself repeatedly with successful projects.
This gradual increase in trust has helped Bulutistan win some substantial accounts, including a major regional energy provider that wanted to increase its process maturity by automating workflows ranging from customer care through to sales and dealer management. It wanted to open up its internal systems for external customers to use through a self-service portal.
To do that, the company needed to replace a legacy in-house application, SAP was the perfect platform for its migration, because most of its business partners used the software. However, having chosen its SAP partners, it had little time left to deploy its infrastructure. It turned to Bulutistan, which was able to stand up an S/4HANA solution for the company in just a couple of days.
Onward and upward
Today, Bulutistan has captured 20% of the Turkish S/4HANA market and those contracts comprise almost a third of the company’s monthly recurring revenues. Its success with IBM has primed it to expand internationally into the EMEA region. It will support this expansion with multicloud capabilities, again powered by IBM’s software.
Many multinational clients need options for cloud services across several countries or may need software that is only hosted by a specific provider. Bulutistan plans to court those customers by acting as a systems integrator, combining its cloud services with other companies’ offerings through a single service level agreement with the client.
To achieve this, it uses IBM’s Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management, which replaced Red Hat’s CloudForms product. That not only helps it to manage integration with other cloud platforms but also offers extra PaaS solutions that enhance Bulutistan’s own service set.
By identifying a critical need, Bulutistan created a powerful business opportunity to help big-ticket customers keep their technology up to date while saving valuable resources. With IBM’s help, it built a line of business with growth figures that make it the envy of other companies in the space. With IBM-powered multicloud integration, who knows what it can achieve in the future?
Learn more about how other Beacon Award winners are changing the world through their solutions.
Hear from Bulutistan as they explain their partnership with IBM and how they’re innovating with IBM Power Systems: