Rackspace Technology leads Aramex’s migration to public cloud

Rackspace Technology leads Aramex’s migration to public cloud

As digitisation takes hold, companies are discovering new ways to become more innovative and cloud technology is therefore becoming increasingly utilised. Mohammed Sleeq, Chief Digital Officer at Aramex, tells us how the company migrated its operations to the public cloud with the help of Rackspace Technology.

Rackspace Technology has announced that Aramex, a leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions, is in the process of migrating from on-premise data centres to Amazon Web Services (AWS) following a comprehensive Professional Services consultation.

Aramex, which moved more than 103 million shipments globally last year, started its cloud journey with the creation of one of the largest data lakes in the Middle East and the deployment of Machine Learning models in areas of customer experience and last mile innovation.

Through the managed public cloud environment, the Dubai-based organisation has already achieved cost savings when scaling, which was crucial during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic where it saw around 30-40% growth in e-commerce volumes. Working with Rackspace Technology, Aramex is also provided with expert cloud security, compliance services and the ability to leverage data analytics, ultimately enabling it to become cloud-native.

“Our journey to becoming cloud-native is vital to the future growth and innovation of the business,” said Mohammed Sleeq, Chief Digital Officer at Aramex. “Modernising our core landscape is more important than ever before given the current industry dynamics which is fuelled by the consistent growth of e-commerce. We embarked on a pivotal shift of our IT environment and the collaboration between our internal team and that of AWS and Rackspace Technology is critical to the success of the programme.”

In the next stage of the project, Rackspace Technology will be working closely with Aramex on the modernisation of the company’s extensive 60+ applications.

“Working with Aramex is a hugely exciting project for us,” said George Pawlyszyn, General Manager, Middle East and Africa, Rackspace Technology. “Aramex has already noticed such important benefits from our work together, which is great validation for the efforts of all involved. The ongoing work will further enhance its market-leading position, allowing for even more innovation and agility.”

Mahesh Desai, Chief Relationship Officer, Rackspace Technology, discusses the process in further detail.

How did Rackspace Technology work with Aramex to help it migrate its IT infrastructure to AWS cloud?

The first stage of the project was to complete Migration Readiness Planning (MRP), which built on the Migration Readiness Assessment that AWS had initially conducted on Aramex’s infrastructure. As part of the MRP, we aligned with AWS methodology to complete a detailed analysis of the current estate to help establish the strategy, timeframe and roadmap for the migration.

Then, working closely with AWS, we built a team of experts across our Professional Services function that would work directly with the Aramex IT and application development teams to deliver against its roadmap. The strength of the relationships developed was important for ensuring that everyone worked as one team throughout the cloud migration.

What expertise did Rackspace Technology bring to the project?

Aramex embraces diversity and sees it as one of its key differentiators in the market. Sleeq and the team were interested in working with a technology partner that could provide them with different expertise and experience beyond that of their internal team. We have a clear track record of success, with great references in the Middle East and beyond. As we embarked with Aramex on the next step in its technological transformation, it became clear there was a natural chemistry between the teams.

Our team is also expert in cloud security, compliance services and the ability to leverage data analytics, each of which plays a key role in Aramex’s transition to becoming cloud-native. We understand that modernising the core landscape is more important than ever before given the current industry dynamics, which is fuelled by the consistent growth of e-commerce. Working with Aramex, we are creating a pivotal shift of its IT environment and the collaboration between our team and that of Aramex and AWS is critical to the success of the programme.

Intelligent Data Centres caught up with Mohammed Sleeq, Chief Digital Officer at Aramex, to gain deeper insight into the technology implementation and how the solution has provided the company with an array of operational benefits.

What infrastructure, systems and networks did Aramex have prior to migrating to the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

We have always been perceived as an innovator in the region and an agile operator, able to manage the constant change and address the rapid pace of market demands and customer requirements. We were previously linked to seven data centres across the globe, which supported over 60 on-premise applications. However, over the years, we’ve seen the industry go through significant change, primarily driven by the growth of e-commerce. Although we were building more and more, it was all on-premise and we knew we needed a new way of continuing to innovate and develop to secure our competitive edge in our core markets.

What challenges did Aramex face with vendor technologies that were deployed on-premise in your IT environment and why was it important for the company to work with AWS?

While we continue to compete with our more traditional and longstanding competitors, there have been a number of new entrants that have disrupted the market. This new breed of digital operators are cloud-native and we quickly realised that our environment — with its interdependencies and legacy core products — prevented us from being as responsive as we could be to changing consumer trends. We were conscious of the need to modernise our core landscape to strengthen our position as an agile operator and a tech enabler in the region.

We chose to embark on a large enterprise Digital Transformation programme and selected AWS as our partner, with the goal of migrating our entire technology infrastructure from on-premise data centres to AWS cloud in order to increase our agility, security and speed of innovation.

Why did you select AWS and what role did Rackspace Technology play?

We went into the process with the intention of wanting to consolidate our data centres and move away from on-premise. We decided that adopting AWS would be vital to support our aim of driving further innovation within our business, providing a platform for growth and delivering a better customer service for our users.

We chose AWS because its technology is similar to the systems we already had in place and we wanted to begin the journey with some synergy in place. Taking advantage of Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed Machine Learning service for building, training and deploying Machine Learning models, our in-house data science team built a data analytics and Machine Learning platform on AWS.

To support moving our core IT backbone to AWS and in the transformation of the IT landscape through application modernisation, AWS recommended Rackspace Technology as a strategic partner to help us accelerate our transformation and develop the design processes that would support future transformation.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for Aramex on its Digital Transformation journey and how has working with Rackspace Technology and AWS cloud benefitted the company?

We want to take the next step of application modernisation to help us in our goal of improving the last mile process and customer experience. Through working with Rackspace Technology, we have expanded the scope of the project to support the modernisation of our application portfolio. Both teams are working collaboratively to design a reusable application architecture that will enable us to build cloud-native applications, both repurposing those already in operation and to support new applications in the future. This complex architecture must also support interactions with our existing on-premise applications during the migration process, when both systems must work in unison.

Data will continue to drive many of our decisions moving forward, with Machine Learning and AI capabilities being key to becoming more efficient on the ground and enabling us to offer a seamless delivery experience. Removing the manually-intensive processes will be the key driver for us.

What percentage of your IT infrastructure is on-premise versus that which is outsourced or managed through the cloud?

We are presently running a hybrid environment and once the current roadmap with Rackspace Technology is completed, we hope that we will be running a fully managed services environment powered by AWS.

What have been the main changes in terms of your overall product and services offerings to your customers since you moved to AWS?

The ultimate goal of this transition is to modernise our technology to make it more flexible, robust and agile to adapt in the rapidly evolving competitive climate. Thanks to the team’s strategic vision for the potential of the cloud and technology within the organisation, we are not only undergoing cloud transformation, but true business change.

We are already seeing the results of our investment in the cloud. The scalability of the cloud infrastructure was critical in supporting customers throughout the 30-40% growth rates we experienced during the pandemic. The reduction of the on-premise environment resulted in cost savings, as we have transitioned away from the seven data centres that we previously managed.

While the project is still ongoing, moving away from the monolithic design of the legacy environment into a cloud-based, microservices environment is already starting to deliver against the goal to adopt a more agile infrastructure. Both back office products have now been modernised and sliced into different productivity stacks.

What initiatives are you focusing on for the rest of 2020 and what does the future hold for Aramex?

The transformation is enabling our team to begin exploring how cloud-based Machine Learning models could advance our logistics and transport processes on the ground. In our data lake, we now have around 10.2TB of data powering five to six Machine Learning use cases on the cloud. This generates over 450,000 predictions per day — each of which is generated in just 1.1125 milliseconds. With more than 10 million history tracking records generated every day, the deployment of microservices in these Machine Learning models will help automate more processes to drive greater efficiencies that help us optimise performance and cost.

Our growth and success has been down to our constant dedication to customers — and understanding the important role that technology innovation plays in ensuring that we are always able to deliver against their changing expectations. We are confident that with our new agile cloud infrastructure, we will be able to further align our innovative culture to customer demand to help retain our position as the preferred partner in our core markets.

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