“Fivetran’s superior management capabilities are a hidden gem of the product. Implementation and management of interfaces takes only limited time. The few FTP Interfaces we also manage require much more effort.” — Christine Derksen, Operator at PostNL
- Reduce costs to create a competitive advantage by replacing on-premises data centers with cloud infrastructure.
- Migrate applications, data and IT infrastructure to the cloud.
- PostNL uses Fivetran for real-time data integration to Microsoft Azure and Amazon EC2.
- Enabled successful cloud migration and cloud-data integration.
- Simplified data management and improved security.
- Industry: Mail, parcel and e-commerce
- Company Size: 10,000+
- Sources: Oracle, SQL Server
- Destination: Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2
- Cloud Platform: Microsoft Azure, AWS
- Use cases: Cloud Migration and Cloud Integration
PostNL offers mail, parcel and e-commerce products and services in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. At a time when many companies hesitated to move their IT operations 100% to the cloud, PostNL became an early cloud technology adopter. The company leveraged Fivetran’s cloud capabilities to migrate its applications to the cloud and to integrate these cloud systems on an ongoing basis. Prior to its cloud migration, PostNL had been using Fivetran (formerly HVR) for 15 years to support a massive, distributed track-and-trace application comprised of more than 250 databases.
Over the years, the company expanded its use of Fivetran to a variety of data integration use cases across the enterprise. This long experience with Fivetran gave it the confidence to move forward with its cloud migration when other companies were cowed by the perceived risks of this new technology.
PostNL strives to deliver logistics services at a low cost. To maintain its competitive edge, the company decided to commoditize its infrastructure and applications by decommissioning its on-premises data centers and moving its IT operations to the cloud. PostNL wanted to migrate not only its existing applications, which run on Oracle and SQL Server, but also its infrastructure and IT management and operations to the new platform.
Where possible, PostNL wanted to replace existing bespoke software with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). If the company could not find a suitable SaaS replacement, it would implement the legacy and bespoke software on top of cloud-based infrastructure and platform services (IAAS and PAAS). PostNL initially chose the Microsoft Azure platform for these services and later added Amazon Web Services to avoid the risks of running its entire infrastructure onto a solution from a single vendor.
The migration process ended up taking more than two years. During the migration process, PostNL faced massive integration challenges:
- First, the company needed to move applications and data to the cloud.
- Second, the migrated applications needed to continue communicating with the existing on-premises systems.
- Once the applications were operating in the cloud, the use of best–of-breed cloud solutions meant PostNL needed to integrate various cloud environments.
Lift and shift to the cloud
Fivetran’s unique approach greatly simplified PostNL’s migration process. Many migration/integration solutions are dependent on the location of the application, which means that IT must modify the application when they migrate the database. In contrast, Fivetran enabled PostNL to implement a “lift and shift” approach. With Fivetran (HVR) installed on each data platform, PostNL could simply move each database to the cloud and then redefine its location in Fivetran without having to alter the application. This approach meant it was easy to move applications to the cloud one-by-one while maintaining existing integrations. The company was able to migrate incrementally, rather than in one big bang.
PostNL was able to use this same approach whether they were migrating applications to the Azure cloud or were adding services from other cloud platforms, such as Amazon’s EC2. Once applications were in the cloud, PostNL needed to integrate across cloud platforms. To address this challenge, PostNL deployed a cloud-based Fivetran integration service. Adopted in the summer of 2014, this service operates as a cloud integration hub for PostNL, connecting all of its cloud-based solutions. Overall, Fivetran’s capabilities have proven essential for PostNL’s successful cloud implementation.
Improved scalability, control and security
PostNL currently uses Fivetran for more than 600 interfaces, ranging from one-to-one file transfer to complex data distribution scenarios. Use cases include synchronizing master data, replicating transaction data, loading data warehouses, not to mention integrating into Salesforce and SharePoint online.
“Fivetran also shines when it comes to stability and robustness. It keeps on running and running with minimal maintenance effort. Fivetran guarantees secure delivery of all our data. These aspects are even more important in running operations based on cloud solutions.” — Erik Jan Yntema, Director of IT Operations at PostNL
Fivetran’s centralized, easy-to-use management console greatly simplifies management of the replication processes. Admins can administer, schedule and control all jobs from one central location. This improves and simplifies the control of replication and improves security.