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Green Cargo extends Rimini contract to keep legacy SAP backend running

Mainframe and SAP to provide systems of record, with real-time data for new digitisation initiatives, built on multi-cloud, RPA and low-code platforms

Swedish state-owned rail logistics operator Green Cargo has extended its SAP third-party support and maintenance contract with Rimini Street.

The company decided to maintain its existing core mainframe and SAP systems as the systems of record on which it plans to build new applications to support digital transformation.

The IT strategy involves evolving the core infrastructure, and providing an evolutionary path to minimise disruption and reduce risk.

Rather than treat the mainframe or SAP system as end-of-life, CIO Ingo Paas convinced the board that the real focus of IT needed to be on investing in systems that would help to improve the business. “We had to get control of the mainframe and SAP system, invest these core systems and stop discussing replacing them,” he said.

Paas’s IT strategy involves continued investment in these systems, and keeping them alive so that they can provide data to new applications the business requires. “I take care of the risk and focus on the data in the applications,” he said.

The strategy focuses on how to keep the legacy IT running in a way that means the mainframe and SAP systems can support the company in the future. This has meant that Green Cargo needed to rebuild business processes and develop an approach that could integrate the mainframe and SAP better. “We cannot run the mainframe and SAP systems in isolation,” said Paas. “Having an ecosystem is key.”

The approach he has taken means that real-time data is held in the mainframe and used to trigger automation in the company’s multi-cloud Azure, Google Cloud and AWS environments.

Robotic process automation

Green Cargo uses API management and robotic process automation driven by real-time data drawn from the mainframe and SAP systems. 

When asked why he chose not to modernise the SAP system, Paas said: “You need to reflect on your future strategy.”

By taking ownership of the systems, the business can become more agile than if it relied on an IT supplier to provide new functionality. “If I decided to go for S/4Hana, I would be relying on SAP,” he said. “I don’t want to depend on a supplier to support the way we do our business strategy.”

Green Cargo used Rimini Street as a way to sever the link between the SAP ERP system and the support and maintenance contract provided by SAP.

Rimini Street takes on responsibility for the support and maintenance of Green Cargo’s SAP system. Not only has this helped to lower costs, but Rimini Street has also become a partner to support the business as it continues on its digitisation journey.

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Rimini Street has helped Green Cargo reduce a backlog of business development and compliance activities that had built up when there was little investment in IT. It has been able to stabilise the core SAP system, which includes financial accounting and control, human resources, payroll, supply chain management, business warehouse, customer relationship management, and process orchestration.

“Knowing we have Rimini Street as a trusted strategic partner, ensuring the stability of our core SAP system, means we have the confidence and capacity to focus on the execution and further development of our business goals,” said Paas.

The company has adopted a low-code approach to developing software-powered services that can be reused, swapped and replaced. “We are not building a new legacy with millions of lines of code; we are building services that we can continuously reuse,” he added.

Green Cargo plans to keep its mainframe system running for the next five to 10 years, supported by a Swedish mainframe company which has been hired to clean up the code, retire redundant applications and support the development of mainframe software required by the business.

For the SAP ERP system, Paas said: “Over time, we will pick and collect new applications to replace SAP.”

This best-of-breed approach also involves buying in software to provide artificial intelligence (AI), but over time, he expects to grow AI skills internally. 

The overall focus of the IT strategy is about supporting the business at lower cost and lower risk. “Our ambition is to deliver an IT roadmap that is driven by business needs, avoiding huge investments and the risks of migrating to other platforms, including the disruption to our business and the risk that the IT systems supporting our train network would go down,” he concluded.

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