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Brother moves core internal applications to Amazon cloud

Manufacturer Brother has moved its back-office and customer-facing systems to the Amazon cloud using public and hybrid models

UK manufacturer Brother has moved its core internal systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud because its traditional infrastructure was proving too static during busy business periods.

The company is migrating back-office applications that support the business, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), and systems that support digital engagement with customers to the full and hybrid Amazon cloud-based services, to enable it to scale up and down when needed.

As well as ensuring the IT operations have the capacity required at peak times and are not wasting money in quiet periods, the cloud will help free up resources to focus on adding business value. It gives IT experts more time to get closer to the business.

Ian Metcalfe, who, as executive director at Brother International Europe, has board responsibility for IT, said the company decided to move to Amazon for scalability and flexibility.

“The demands on our main website can fluctuate a large amount during product launches and promotions, and our traditional static infrastructure approach was giving us issues at certain times of the year,” he said.

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The move to cloud computing was not just about improving operations, but an opportunity to change the business, according to Metcalf.

He said the printing industry was becoming a challenging market, with print volumes decreasing, which has led Brother to look at new products and ways to go to market, such as offering subscription-based services.

“We wanted to drive new business models quite quickly, but our traditional infrastructure didn’t allow us to stand up pilot environments,” said Metcalf. For example, the company is offering subscription services to consumers and managed print services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These new models require different business processes, which in turn need different IT systems.

“By moving stuff to the cloud we are freeing up some IT resources that can now sit with the business and talk about how technology can help them innovate in the business. I have product managers thinking about new products and services, but are not sure about the technology that can enable them to do it. By putting [business and IT] teams alongside each other they can come up with ideas.”

Metcalf said it was focusing on these benefits, rather than cost savings: “We are not saving a lot of money because, due to the scalability, we are actually doing more on the infrastructure. It is more about speed. It is allowing us to launch new ideas in a shorter time frame.” He said what would previously have taken six to nine months now takes a matter of weeks.

The project to move to AWS began in July. All web-based digital content is already in the AWS public cloud, with all SAP-based ERP and back-end systems on a hybrid cloud with AWS provided and supported by IT services company Ensono.

Brother chose to work with Ensono because it did not have the internal expertise required for a cloud transformation. “We needed the advice and expertise of Ensono to help us decide things like should we go with the public, private or hybrid cloud,” said Metcalf.

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