In the early 2000s, Australian agribusiness Ruralco moved its\nSAP infrastructure into a hosted data centre in Melbourne. But as the company\ngrew, the hosting provider\u2019s inability to scale the infrastructure and slow\nsystem performance hindered the efficiency of staff at 40 businesses across 500\nretail outlets.\n\u201cThe infrastructure wasn\u2019t\nours and it was very difficult for the hosting provider to change configuration\nof the environment \u2013 it took weeks to add memory, CPU and disk,\u201d Ruralco\u2019s\nchief information officer, Tom Hansen toldCIO Australia.\nScalability and lack of\nperformance were both problems for the ASX-listed organisation, which operates\nin the areas of fertilisers, wool, livestock, water, grain, real estate, risk\nmanagement, finance and insurance.\n\u201cThe hosted environment didn\u2019t have the throughput capacity to\nhandle concurrent requests from our people. For example, at the end of the\nmonth, our finance department will run many reports and our previous\nenvironment didn\u2019t have the ability to handle those concurrently,\u201d Hansen explained.\nLast October, Ruralco gave\nthe data centre provider the flick and moved its core SAP environment to\nMicrosoft\u2019s Azure cloud in Sydney with a disaster recovery site in Melbourne\nthat is mirrored every 15 minutes.\nHansen said there have been\na few benefits to moving to a public cloud environment. It\u2019s more scalable and\ndelivered a 60 per cent improvement in the performance of SAP applications to\nits retail network from day one.\n"If we put all our\nbackups, batch jobs, data extractions and the like end-to-end \u2013 a lot of them run\nat night at the same time\u2013 they would take up to 27 hours to run. But now they\nrun in half an hour," said Hansen.\nThe organisation's tech\nteam also benefits from a pre-production staging environment which has improved\n"throughput for changes and transports into production," Hansen said.\n\u201cPreviously, we only had\none production, test and dev environment \u2013 now we have a dev, test, staging and\nproduction environment. So we have another level there in the stack to make\nsure we test our transports prior to them being moved into production.\n\u201cMoving to the cloud also\nallows us to add more interfaces to the environment so we can add extra modules\nand third party systems. We can also \u2018pipe out\u2019 data from our production system\ninto a data warehouse to \u2018punch the numbers\u2019 and to have more a real-time analysis\non that information. That extra capacity makes it a lot easier \u2013 it\u2019s very\nscalable so this makes the job simpler."\nThe move to Azure has\nimproved the performance of Ruralco\u2019s core SAP point-of-sale application, which\nserves several of the organisation\u2019s business units.\n\u201cPreviously, if someone\nneeded to print an invoice at the point of sale in a regional town, performance\nfrom our servers in Melbourne wasn\u2019t up to the task, and the print out could\ntake minutes as opposed to seconds [with the new public cloud infrastructure in\nplace],\u201d said Hansen. This bottleneck has been alleviated completely."\nAll of Ruralco's tech\ninfrastructure now sits in managed VMs in third party data centres. The\norganisation rolled out Office 365 in 2016, which makes it easier for 3000\nhighly mobile staff to do their jobs, said Hansen.\n"From an\ninfrastructure point of view, Ithink the world will be moving to that\nmodel because it's very scalable. You can select which service you want, whether\nit\u2019s complete management, backups and disaster recovery \u2013 depending on your\nbudget and environment,\u201d he said.\nRuralco's move to the public cloud has been "cost\nneutral" compared to running infrastructure on-premise but gains in system\nperformance and capacity were the key drivers, Hansen said.\n"Also with the new DR\nenvironment, we are very pleased where we have ended up."