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Manufacturing industry

Kem One migrates its IT infrastructure to the public cloud

Published on 01/18/2022

Kem One begins migration of its information system to the AWS public cloud in just a few months, thanks to VMware solutions and support from TeamWork.

A chemical company specializing in rock salt extraction and chlorine production, Kem One is Europe’s second-largest PVC producer. With six production sites in France and Spain, it employs 1,300 people and generates sales of over €900 million.

“The migration of our information system to the AWS public cloud was completed in just a few months, thanks to VMware solutions and support from TeamWork. In the end, we achieved 26% savings on our infrastructure costs, gained in agility, and all this without penalizing our 900 users for a single moment.”

jean-yves pottier

it infrastructure manager, kem one

A dual modernization and FinOps project

Europe’s second-largest PVC producer, Kem One wanted to renew its aging IT infrastructure, spread over two data centers in the Lyon region. Jean-Yves Pottier, IT infrastructure manager, led the modernization of the chemical company’s information system with the help of VMware and TeamWork. His testimony:

“Our IT infrastructure was based on two aging data centers, five kilometers apart in the Lyon region, using Unix and HP systems. The cost of renewing and maintaining this “on premises” equipment was becoming prohibitive. What’s more, the three-person team in charge of the infrastructure, including myself, was clearly too small to meet all the challenges. So it became urgent to modernize our technological environments!” remembers Jean-Yves Pottier.

After careful consideration, the option of renewing the existing IT equipment at Kem One’s sites has been definitively abandoned: we’re heading for the public cloud! The company is therefore organizing a call for tenders during 2018 to find a solution to its need. This should include hosting in a public cloud – without having to commit the company to a lengthy application rewrite project -, integrating all the necessary virtualization technologies, and ensuring the support of a quality service provider to carry out the migration.

Hot migration of 280 virtual machines

At the start of 2019, the chemical company’s choice was AWS’s public cloud, VMware’s HCX solution and project team support from services company TeamWork. The decision to entrust the project to these companies was motivated by a number of legal, technical and financial factors.

First of all, taking into account the legal constraints of the RGPD (and imposed by company management). Secondly, the ability to perform “hot” migration of the 280 existing virtual machines, thanks to the VMware vSphere environment already in place and the VMware HCX solution, which enables applications to be moved almost seamlessly to the cloud. Finally, on the budget side, a FinOps approach has been initiated to optimize AWS hosting costs.

Simple, fast and cost-effective Lift and Shift migration

“Our applications were not initially designed to be cloud-native. However, our objective was to migrate to the cloud as quickly as possible, and with the minimum disruption to service, so as not to penalize our 900 ERP users in particular,” comments Jean-Yves Pottier. Already running a VMware vSphere virtualized infrastructure, Kem One opted for a simple, fast and cost-effective Lift and Shift migration.

Thanks to VMware’s HCX solution, the migration took just a few months, with less than 15 minutes downtime for SAP’s 900 users. The impact on the company’s applications was minimal, as it was able to rebuild its ESX clusters very easily on AWS and without modifying IP addressing, which is generally a source of risk (refactoring) and longer migration times.

Another point to watch out for: “the performance of a migration to the cloud depends in part on the bandwidth available to the hosting provider, and this point should not be underestimated,” points out Jean-Yves Pottier, who has had to deal with volumes of up to 2 TB on certain mail servers.

26% savings on infrastructure costs

The move to the AWS public cloud also enabled Kem One to replace its old database system, previously installed in its data centers, with the in-memory SAP HANA Cloud database, and then to migrate its ERP (SAP SP8) natively to AWS EC2.

Another advantage – and not the least – is that the chemical company saves 26% on its previous “on premises” infrastructure costs. “The FinOps mechanisms we’ve put in place enable us to precisely monitor the evolution of our cloud infrastructure costs. As the AWS solution offering is rich and it’s very easy to add resources, we have to be vigilant about the financial impact.”
advises Jean-Yves Pottier.

And tomorrow?

“Both the VMware experts (pre-sales, VMC on AWS specialists) and the TeamWork project team demonstrated their expertise and unfailing availability. Beyond the technical aspects, I’m very satisfied with our migration. The cloud gives us a new agility to rapidly add additional infrastructure components, according to the needs of our development teams and the budget to be committed, which is now very easy to calculate”. enthuses Jean-Yves Pottier.