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Multipharma is one of the biggest pharmacy chains in Belgium, with 275 physical pharmacies, 24iU shops and their own retail distribution warehouse. The company is the biggest player on the Belgian pharmacy market and a leader in the distribution of medicines, with an 8% market share, a turnover of €400 million and about 1700 employees.
Multipharma’s state-of-the-art warehouse is one of the most important and efficient ones of the country, with every day more than 100.000 packages made out of an assortment of 12.500 references. Dispatched from the warehouse and automated thanks to robots of the newest generation, Multipharma is able to transport orders to their pharmacists very fast.
IT Architect Manager, Multipharma
There are a lot of IT challenges going on at Multipharma. A few years ago they decided to scrap their own bespoke front-end development system which they replaced with an off the shelf component.
The company is currently (2019) replacing their old back-end system from an old SAP to SAP HANA.
Also a couple of years ago, Multipharma decided to go to a private Cloud instead of having their own data center.
The next move, instead of having a private Cloud, was to go to the public Cloud. But which public Cloud provider to choose?
The company wanted to move their SAP HANA workloads from a private to public Cloud because of reasons like flexibility and price.
Multipharma benchmarked all 3 big public Cloud companies to decide which one they would choose to run their SAP workloads on. They benchmarked Amazon with Azure, and finally also with Google Cloud. The choice was then made to move the SAP workloads to Google Cloud Platform.
The firm got convinced that in terms of flexibility, for example in virtual machine sizes, Google is superior over the other two solutions. Multipharma also thinks Google Cloud is more innovative than Azure, and that it has better monitoring capabilities with things like StackDriver.
Also the Google Cloud-SAP partnership was a convincing factor for Multipharma to choose for Google Cloud.
A different argument to "go Google" were the prices: the Google pricing was a lot more interesting than the Azure prices.
Given that Multipharma is a retail player, Amazon was a difficult partner for them, given that they’re also investing in competing products like PillPack. That’s another reason why the company chose for Google Cloud.
A challenge for Multipharma in the migration of SAP workloads to Google Cloud Platform was that they didn’t have any experience with Google Cloud, nor sufficient resources to gain these capabilities internally.
That’s why they decided to work with Google Cloud Premier partner Fourcast, who has experience with migrating their customer’s SAP workloads to Google Cloud.
We’re very happy with the collaboration with Fourcast so far. I have a solution architect who works head to head with Fourcast’s technical guru. So we’re very happy about the collaboration.”
- Dirk Dussart, Lead Enterprise Architect at Multipharma
In a nutshell, the methodology together with Fourcast was to migrate the SAP workloads in different phases: first, the development environment at Google was completed, which is now already being used by another partner for development purposes.
Next step is to finish the testing environment for agile testing, and lastly to finish the production environment.
As the project is still ongoing, it’s a bit too early to look back at the results already.
However, Multipharma hopes the results will hopefully give them a lot of flexibility. It’s something the company is currently experimenting with. For example by turning servers down at night, which will save Multipharma definitely a huge amount of money. They hope to have a very flexible environment which will allow to do more innovative stuff like e-commerce, providing new apps for their clients, and such.
This is really the beginning of our Cloud journey. Once we have completed our SAP journey to Google Cloud, the next step will be thinking about offloading our current workloads which we run at the private cloud to Google Cloud. We’re also considering replacing their current SAP BW solution with Google BigQuery. That’s the ambition for the next couple of years.- Dirk Dussart, Lead Enterprise Architect at Multipharma
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