Case Study

Advanced Energy manages SAP ® application hosting with Sungard AS cloud services

From flat-panel displays to solar PV inverters, new technologies are moving the world forward. And Advanced Energy is moving new technologies forward — with power conversion solutions as dependable as they are innovative.

One such Engineering & Manufacturing organization, Fort Collins-based Advanced Energy Industries — is a global leader with over 30 years of relentless focus on power conversion and control technologies enabling design breakthroughs, driving growth and innovation for leading worldwide semiconductor and industrial customers. To propel its own growth, Advanced Energy (AE) relies on SAP® for most of its application portfolio — from backoffice, human resources and sales and services to operations manufacturing, business intelligence and global risk compliance, and employee self-service management.

Advanced Energy used a legacy infrastructure and a Solaris operating system with an Oracle Database 10G. To support the next SAP® Software upgrade, the company infrastructure needed a refresh. The decision boiled down to either buying hardware or moving its high-demand SAP® production environments to the Cloud — a bold step, but one that would set it on the right course for future growth.

Partnering for SAP management

In 2011, Advanced Energy began its search for a technology vendor, evaluating four vendors. At the time, Advanced Energy was using Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) for colocation and some managed services for the SAP® environments.

Advanced Energy chose to expand its relationship with Sungard AS to ensure that all of its SAP® environments were hosted and managed completely by Sungard AS, including disaster recovery capabilities, “all of which would have cost us a fortune if we had to do it ourselves,” says Rajeev Ankireddypalli, VP of Information Technology. “Sungard AS became our strategic partner not only to manage the day-to-day aspects, but to strategize that environment and provide recommendations about execution of our IT and Cloud environment.”

Three major factors contributed to Advanced Energy’s selection of Sungard AS, explains Ankireddypalli.

The company required a vendor with:

  • The flexibility that a mid-sized company needs to support a global environment and not one that pursues a cookie-cutter approach.
  • An understanding of the cost of moving such a huge SAP® footprint, unusual for a mid-size company, to a Cloud environment.
  • Sensitivity to the risk of such a transition as well as the complexity of the move — involving a SAP® system and 13 other SAP® landscapes; many changes had to be coordinated with another vendor, requiring much handholding.

Security and protection was less of a concern because each of the vendors evaluated had similar capabilities for securing and protecting Advanced Energy’s data. What Ankireddypalli knew was that for the company to host and manage the entire SAP® footprint in the Cloud, he would need three to four more people in the U.S. and two to three more in Korea, Europe and China — where the company has a large manufacturing plant.

Why Sungard AS?

Previously, whenever a business unit within Advanced Energy asked Ankireddypalli to deploy a SAP® product, it would require four or more months to get it up and running. Today, with Sungard AS and the Cloud-based model, that process only takes a week to get the new environment operating. In addition, Sungard AS provides the company with a disaster recovery plan it didn’t have previously.

By partnering with Sungard AS, Ankireddypalli knows he has a predictable cost model, as well as flexibility to grow quickly or, if necessary, to ramp down.

Advanced Energy and Sungard AS encountered a few technical challenges during the transition to the Cloud. “If we had gone down this path by ourselves, I would have had to spend a boatload of money and resources that we couldn’t afford at that point,” says Ankireddypalli. “Sungard AS made investments to help us with some of the challenges that we didn’t anticipate. Their CEO spoke to our leadership team, and Sungard AS made the investments for the vendors and tools we needed to engage to get through the migration.”

Sungard AS also brought Advanced Energy a partner to handle its intrusion detection and protection services and replace an existing product. “We felt comfortable with Sungard AS bringing up a partner,” says Ankireddypalli. The company also is working with its Sungard AS team to evaluate Advanced Energy’s non-SAP® infrastructure.

Business Results

Advanced Energy’s partnership with Sungard AS has had financial benefits, primarily as it involves the distinction between capital expenditures and operating expenses. If the company had to handle the project itself, Ankireddypalli says it would spark a huge cash-flow impact of $2 to 2.6 million. Using its current operating-expense model, Advanced Energy finds benefits extremely appealing for a mid-sized company, Ankireddypalli says.

In addition, Ankireddypalli says that he realized his core system’s technology would have to be upgraded even more down the road, at a sizeable cost. Sungard AS now updates technology when necessary as a service to all of its customers.

Says Ankireddypalli: “Sungard AS’ additional investment when our infrastructure needs upgrading is a tremendous value. In fact, we’re using that model and adapting it for other investments.” For instance, Advanced Energy is going toward a Cloud-based operating-expense model as it determines how to manage its unified collaboration and communication solution within its network infrastructure. “When I can do this for one of our biggest footprints, I know I can do it comfortably with others,” he says. And just how much more efficient is the relationship with Sungard AS serving as host of the Cloud-based infrastructure and apps?

“With the completion of our Cloud migration, Advanced Energy has seen a 30 percent performance improvement in the Cloud. We’ve achieved high availability while also exceeding our four-hour disaster recovery service level agreement. For Advanced Energy, this is a critical Sarbanes-Oxley compliance requirement while ensuring minimal disruption to our global operations,” says Advanced Energy’s Ankireddypalli, quite satisfied.

  • 30 percent performance improvement on Cloud
  • High availability for development and test systems
  • SAP environment hosted and upgrade ready using Cloud deployment