Singapore retailer shifts IT infrastructure to the cloud

Challenger is moving its IT infrastructure to the cloud to enable it to respond better to business growth

Singapore electronics retailer Challenger has moved its operational IT systems to the cloud to make it easier to adapt to changing business needs.

The migration is being done while the retailer builds an online presence.

The company’s rapid growth – it has nearly doubled its number of stores in less than five years – called for its infrastructure to be very responsive to the changes required by its stores and outlets across Singapore.

The previous applications it used were housed in an on-premise, in-house datacentre that did not allow the company to scale quickly.

Challenger’s goal was to shift from an offline mindset to an online one. A key concern was security because a shift to the cloud involved moving its core operational systems, such as its e-commerce marketplace platform and payment gateways.

A recommendation by Gartner led Challenger to work with Datapipe, which gave the retailer technical support for its cloud migration.

Challenger’s operational systems – point-of-sale, enterprise resource planning and online marketplaces – are now in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. Datapipe ensures compliance and security measures for Challenger with its 24-hour managed service and monitoring.

The AWS virtual private cloud isolates Challenger’s environment, providing additional security through managed VPN connectivity.

The migration to AWS took three months and was conducted in two phases, said Challenger CTO Joshua Woon.

In the first phase, Challenger’s core web, point-of-sale, billing, database, backup and disaster recovery workloads were moved into Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) within a virtual private cloud for added security.

In phase two, Challenger’s remaining IT components, such as security, mail, payments, print and network functionality, were moved into Amazon environments, including a planned move to AWS Direct Connect for added security and increased performance.

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This public cloud environment has helped Challenger reduce the time it takes to get the IT infrastructure set up when building new stores from six to eight weeks to a matter of days, enabling it to automate and scale infrastructure easily. The company has also been able to shift internal IT resources from routine maintenance to encourage innovation and revenue growth.

Loo Leong Thye, CEO at Challenger, said: “Consumer shopping patterns are changing rapidly and with it, retail itself has evolved. Consumers’ experiences and interaction with our brand are not just in-store, but also on smartphones or personal computers. Our goal is to be with them every step of the journey.”

The use of cloud applications for operational systems is a growing trend within Asean, said Sandeep Bazaz, industry analyst, APAC datacentre and cloud computing, at Frost & Sullivan APAC.

“Cloud ERP is catching up with on-premise-based ERP systems in Asean as well as Asia-Pacific,” he said. “Enterprises in mature economies have already started to move towards using cloud-based ERP systems, while those in emerging economies are transitioning at a slower pace due to issues such as migration, perception, data security and privacy.”

Bazaz said the key verticals that are adopting cloud-based ERP solutions tend to be in manufacturing, e-commerce, retail and healthcare.

“In e-commerce, most of the companies are newer companies, but organisations in manufacturing, retail and healthcare will soon adopt cloud-based ERP solutions,” he added. “Most of these verticals are under pressure to improve overall margins and operational efficiency. Adopting cloud-based solutions will help the enterprise from these verticals to achieve those goals.”

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