IT service provider ESC Consulting constantly looks to improve its offerings, while clients seek to cut costs and do more. How could ESC expand its capabilities and at the same time reduce fees?
ESC Consulting switched its clients’ core SAP and related applications to the cloud, using a combination of SoftLayer® and IBM® Bluemix® services.
Integratedprocesses speed up decision making
Nimbledevelopment of new apps supports business requirements
Cloudmodel removes capital costs
Business Challenge Story
Meeting ever-growing client demands
Computer services providers are continually under pressure to devise, develop and implement next-generation tools that support the business strategies of a varied and demanding client base. At the same time, they are constantly concerned with minimizing the costs and efforts required to manage and maintain clients’ infrastructures. This was precisely the two-fold challenge facing Italian IT firm ESC Consulting, as Marco Ruffoni, CEO, explains, “Standing out in a competitive, saturated market, implies being able to listen to clients’ needs and deliver solutions that seamlessly respond to—if not anticipate—their business requirements. “We are constantly approached by clients seeking smarter, transformative ways to manage their business processes, and at the same time we need to be cautious about incurring in extra costs when managing their infrastructures. Where could we find a solution that could tick all the boxes for both us and our clients, and that we could roll out easily while being flexible enough to allow for customizations?” The answer was: “in the cloud.” Marco Ruffoni continues, “Cloud computing is one of today’s ‘hottest’ IT trends, and the benefits it generates—cost and time savings, flexibility, security—are what every business wants to achieve. If we wanted to help our clients to transform their business process management, whilst reducing the overheads linked to managing a traditional architecture we needed to look at cloud technologies.” ESC Consulting started working with one of its longest-established clients, a medium-sized company in the manufacturing sector, which was experiencing massive corporate changes that challenged its ability to remain competitive and protect its market share. “This client,” explains Marco Ruffoni, “inherited a very disparate IT environment following the acquisition of new companies, and sought our assistance to consolidate, unify and streamline its business process management. The client’s biggest concerns revolved around optimizing and accelerating supply and production chain management—from tracking the progress of the production line to allocating people to workloads and mapping human resources. Legacy systems hindered our client’s ability to quickly respond to ever-changing market requests and, as a result, the company risked lagging behind and losing business to more agile and innovative competitors.”
Moving clients to the cloud
As a first step, ESC Consulting suggested to replace the client’s multiple independent systems with a comprehensive suite of SAP® ERP applications. Marco Ruffoni comments, “As part of rationalizing their IT landscape, we immediately recommended SAP ERP as the ideal tool to centralize and standardize their workloads. At the same time, we proposed installing all the SAP components—alongside third-party applications for marketing, web and analytics—in the cloud.” The next step was to select a suitable cloud platform with the necessary resilience and performance, combined with integration capabilities that would allow third-party applications to connect successfully with the core SAP solutions. “SoftLayer and IBM Bluemix provided the ideal combination of industrial-strength cloud enablement with application development and integration services,” explains Marco Ruffoni. “SoftLayer offers flexibility and scalability, with very high service levels at very attractive price points. We chose IBM Bluemix because it is a next-generation cloud platform as a service [PaaS] that lets you create, deploy and manage your applications in the most efficient and smart way. IBM Bluemix enables us to use tools and languages of our choice and, by simply logging into the platform and going to the dashboard, we can create new applications literally at the touch of a button.” IBM Bluemix also features strong integration with SAP ERP, with pre-built connectors that simplify, accelerate and structure data exchange between applications. Marco Ruffoni elaborates, “For example, our client’s information on production planning, workload assignment and progress tracking is now automatically fed into their SAP ERP system through a mobile app that we developed with IBM Bluemix. This app, available on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, constantly interacts with IBM Bluemix, which in turn communicates and exchanges information with SAP. “In the past, these operations used to be carried out manually using old-fashioned systems that could only read product barcodes. Now, the mobile app developed with IBM Bluemix delivers real-time, structured and accurate information on all the different parts of the supply and production processes, completely transforming these crucial operations.” With IBM Bluemix, app development is simple and straightforward, with all the necessary connections available to the SAP ERP solutions. “Developing, updating, and even scaling up new applications with IBM Bluemix is a cinch,” confirms Marco Ruffoni. “We can test new services, add and remove features, and continue to update them until we have obtained what we want. The experimental capacity that IBM Bluemix offers us is virtually limitless. Additionally, on SoftLayer, we were able to scale up capacity exactly as the workload grew, keeping our costs closely tracked to the business activity.”
Unprecedented integration to support business requirements
With the IBM Bluemix solution in place, ESC Consulting’s clients are able to implement innovative, more efficient ways of working, and this in turn enables them to promote and distribute their offering in a faster, smarter and more targeted way, boosting competitiveness and productivity. Marco Ruffoni comments, “Our first client going live with the IBM solution immediately reported faster decision-making thanks to quicker, streamlined processes, and the possibility to expand their reach in a much simpler, smarter way due to the easy, rapid development of customized applications.” Following the success of this project, ESC Consulting is already planning to harness the power of IBM Bluemix within other similar projects. Marco Ruffoni states, “We are currently developing new analytics services through IBM Bluemix that will prove invaluable for our customers, and look forward to going live with them. Cloud computing is leading us to revolutionize our traditional ways of working as well as those of our clients, allowing us to employ our time and resources more meaningfully and in a smarter fashion. Because our cloud solution is offered through a pay-per-use model, we have been able to generate significant cost savings compared to using a standard IT infrastructure. We can provide our clients with secure, stable and fast systems that are completely transparent to them and easier, more cost-efficient to manage for us.” Marco Ruffoni concludes, “Our ways of working have definitely transformed thanks to this project. With IBM Bluemix we can keep experimenting, improving and innovating. The creative, transformative power that this tool offers positions us as a leading service provider in a fiercely competitive sector, helping us to retain hard-won clients and attract more business. We are extremely satisfied with the project outcome and are looking forward to continuing our innovative partnership with IBM in the future.”
About ESC Consulting
Established in 2003 and headquartered near Bergamo, Italy, ESC Consulting offers an IT services, including ERP, data integration, mobile application and business process management solutions.
- 6950-05D IBM Bluemix Private Cloud (Cloud BU)
- IBM-SAP Alliance
- SAP ERP