Azure migration project delivered in tight timescales

“ASCO has enjoyed a very positive relationship with Incremental over the last 5 years and I have worked with some of their key staff in previous roles before. I, therefore, had a high level of confidence that they had the experience, knowledge, people and skills to deliver a complex project in a short time frame. The project was delivered below budget and a week ahead of schedule, therefore confirming my confidence in their abilities. The quality of people, depth of knowledge and length of service within the Incremental team is fairly unique in the IT world and is a credit to the company.”

Jim Titmuss, Group IT & Business Systems Director, ASCO

ASCO is the leading materials management and logistics company for the global energy industry.

Headquartered in Aberdeen, UK, ASCO operates from over 70 locations worldwide and employs c.1,500 people.

As the essential partner for global energy materials and logistics management, ASCO works with the world’s largest operators to deliver safety and service delivery excellence. Digitalisation and modernisation are at the heart of operations at ASCO. The Group’s innovative processes and systems mean the company is at the forefront of driving supply chain efficiency.

Expiration of data centre contract

ASCO was hosting Dynamics AX 2012 R2 and other line of business applications in an outsourced data centre. After a five year agreement with the data centre, ASCO’s contract was due to expire in December 2019. Extending the data centre contract was proving costly and ageing hardware would need to be replaced, which would add to the total cost of renewing the contract.

Over the five years in the data centre, the volume of ASCO’s data had been continuing to increase and they were running out of storage capacity meaning costly storage upgrades were going to be required. The data centre server hardware was also beginning to age resulting in ASCO starting to experience performance issues with Dynamics AX. This meant that month-end financial reporting and other commercial processes were taking longer to complete and were being negatively impacted. With an excess of 190 users of Dynamics AX across six countries and with ever-increasing data volumes, ASCO wanted to continue to benefit from using Dynamics AX but to improve its performance and deliver a scalable and accessible cloud-based ERP solution.

ASCO made the decision not to renew the data centre contract due to the cost of renewal, including replacing ageing hardware, data capacity limitations, slow performance and scalability constraints. With these challenges in mind, ASCO decided to evaluate the deployment of Dynamics AX workloads to the cloud.

ASCO had already moved some of its other business applications to Azure and wanted to achieve the same scalability and security benefits the cloud offers for Dynamics AX.

“We wanted to continue to benefit from using Dynamics AX but to improve its performance and deliver a scalable and accessible cloud-based ERP solution.”

Azure migration project delivered in tight timescales

ASCO partnered with Incremental Group to migrate Dynamics AX 2012 R2 to Azure.

Incremental had implemented ASCO’s Dynamics AX application in 2015, therefore ASCO had confidence in Incremental’s proven approach to service delivery. ASCO viewed Incremental as a trusted Microsoft partner with the added advantage of having deep expertise across both Dynamics and Azure products. Furthermore, Incremental had extensive knowledge of ASCO’s existing Dynamics AX integrations to other critical operational systems such as their integrated Logistics Management System (iLMS) and invoice scanning systems.

The biggest challenge of the Dynamics AX to Azure migration was the extremely tight timescales involved. With around six weeks to spare until the data centre contract expired, ASCO approached Incremental to oversee the migration. With typical migrations to Azure taking around fifteen weeks, Incremental successfully migrated all Dynamics AX workloads to Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) in around five weeks using:

  • A proven Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) methodology
  • Virtual Machines with rebuilt SQL Server and SQL reporting servers
  • Virtual Private Network
  • Azure Active Directory for identity and access management
  • Azure storage.

“ASCO has enjoyed a very positive relationship with Incremental over the last 5 years and I have worked with some of their key staff in previous roles before. I, therefore, had a high level of confidence that they had the experience, knowledge, people and skills to deliver a complex project in a short time frame. The project was delivered below budget and a week ahead of schedule, therefore confirming my confidence in their abilities. The quality of people, depth of knowledge and length of service within the Incremental team is fairly unique in the IT world and is a credit to the company.” Jim Titmuss Group IT & Business Systems Director ASCO.

Incremental worked closely in partnership with ASCO’s IT team on the discovery and planning stages. This close working relationship ensured a seamless migration with no delays or negative impacts on end-users. Incremental’s proven cloud methodology, based on Microsoft’s CAF, also gave ASCO confidence in Incrementals approach to cloud migration.

Migrating Dynamics AX to Azure means that ASCO is now able to leverage the scalability, always-on availability and security features of Azure. Azure is giving ASCO the flexibility to manage Dynamics AX in Azure and to make available the benefits from advanced Azure features such as Azure Site recovery services to enable improved operational resilience.

“I had a high level of confidence that Incremental had the experience, knowledge, people and skills to deliver a complex project in a short time frame.”

A best-practice blueprint for future projects

Completing a successful Azure migration in around five weeks, when typical timescales for this size of project are around fifteen weeks, was a significant achievement for the project.

ASCO was very impressed with Incremental’s delivery approach, technical expertise and professionalism, all under tight timescales. As a result, ASCO is using the migration project as a best-practice blueprint for future projects.

ASCO is experiencing the following benefits from the Dynamics AX to Azure migration:

  • Improved Dynamics AX performance, leading to quicker month-end financial reporting
  • Instant scalability to manage ASCO’s increased data capacity with the ability to scale up and down as required
  • High availability and reliability with less risk of Dynamics AX downtime
  • Improved security through Azure’s multi-layered, built-in security controls
  • Hosting costs have reduced by circa 20% while providing a better service for ASCO.

“The quality of people, depth of knowledge and length of service within the Incremental team is fairly unique in the IT world and is a credit to the company.”

Further Azure migration across the organisation

ASCO will be interfacing additional elements of its integrated logistics management system (ILMS) with Dynamics AX to help drive efficiencies and improve data quality. Further interfaces using Dynamics AX timesheets and standard costing functionality will be introduced to help further the understanding of business performance.

Migrating more privately hosted applications to Azure is part of an ongoing digital transformation programme for ASCO. ASCO will continue to invest in digitally transforming its business for years to come.

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