facing growth, Asendia invests in multicloud management

Asendia, which defines itself as a parcel dispatcher, adopted a multicloud processing management solution to gain agility and maintain its resilience at a time when its business is growing.

“All Asendia customer flows are delivered to carriers and then to distributors in 220 countries. From an IT perspective, this means that above all else, we need maximum agility. When one partner fails, we should be able to switch to another within 5 seconds, changing the labels,” explains Florence Muscat, DSI Groupe.

The intermediation business is a key challenge for IT, as it essentially involves hundreds of partners. “In this context, being able to manage multiple clouds is a real added value and a real strength in terms of resilience,” he adds.

Asendia is a joint venture created in July 2012 owned by French Post (60%) and its Swiss counterpart (40%). It has 1,500 people and generates a turnover of €1 billion. It presents itself as a logistics and digital company – without trucks – and focuses on exporting orders, mostly from e-commerce orders (H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Photobox, etc.).

“For example, we work for Nike and we collect all the goods destined for e-commerce from their warehouses and we distribute them in different countries”, illustrates Florence Muscat.

Asendia is present in four regions: United States, Great Britain, Continental Europe and Asia-Pacific. The company does not have its own logistics network, but acts as a broker for logistics providers such as FedEx, UPS, etc. Depending on the destinations, the nature of the goods, the expected quality of service, weight, content, etc., Asendia will work with distributors in different foreign countries. “A company like Fedex can be a competitor or subcontractor to Asendia,” notes DSI.

Manage AWS, GCP, Alibaba and Azure

On the IT side, Asendia has a very diverse heritage. At the time of the creation of the joint venture, Swiss Post and its subsidiaries had a very centralized infrastructure, hosted in their data centers in Switzerland. Quite unlike the French Post, which did not have a common platform to share with its subsidiaries. In 2014, the group opted for a global infrastructure; all entities would be interconnected through a secure network, dedicated technical services, a single Active Directory, a single SMTP platform, an SSO component.

Asendia’s warehouses (about ten) operate in this common architecture. The group takes care of the goods, separates the packages and labels them: a package that leaves Great Britain and arrives in Italy is tracked by the same IS.

In 2020, Asendia’s infrastructure needs a new elasticity. “So we are in strong growth. In 2019, we just acquired two large companies in the United States and England,” explains Florence Muscat. At the time, Asendia was a customer of Google (GCP) after its acquisition in Great Britain, of Alibaba in Asia-Pacific, of Microsoft (Azure) – essentially its SAP financial brick – and above all of AWS (80% of the ‘ infrastructure).

Ascendia wants to be able to manage all these clouds together, if only to make business applications accessible to all subsidiaries. “The challenge is to renew ourselves, not only for external growth reasons, but also to have 24/7 oversight and resilience to maintain the security of our IT”, adds Florence Muscat.

The transformation is quite significant and should be completed in 2024. But we still needed to find a partner to manage it.

The choice of an IBM solution was made after a public tender that, in the end, attracted relatively few applicants. Kyndryl Consult will assume support. The solution is called MCMS (Multicloud Management Services). It is based on a unified console that manages all applications and processing across all cloud resources.

Centralized platform, decentralized development

The data associated with an order are essential today due to the complexity of regulations regarding international shipments (taxes, customs, air safety, contracts with partners) and the nature of the order (fragile or not, dangerous or not, Height of weight…) . Thanks to multicloud, this data is tracked, which makes it possible to know under what conditions an order can be distributed.

Information on the logistical warehouses used by the agents who manage the transport is in fact common. It runs on AWS, just like the Business Intelligence (BI) application. “In terms of data, we use AWS components like Redshift and Microsoft PowerBI as a reporting layer, for ergonomics and multiple integrations. We plan to add predictive functions, with data query/request that will remain AWS based. “, says Florence Muscat.

If Asendia chose to have a common equity for all its subsidiaries, it also decentralized its IT teams. Each region is developing a brick that will be added to the global platform. For example, the United States is working on the logistics platform because it has know-how in this area. The UK region is responsible for the development of the brokerage platform (tag libraries, among others) while tracking is developed by the Asia-Pacific region.

This bet on having a group heritage delivered by four different centers of competence involves the sharing of standardized processes, with the same semantics. “Managing change is the essential lever for the next two years. We developed the logistics brick and we are approaching its general deployment in 2023. It is at this point that we run the risk of encountering difficulties related to user adherence”, admits Florence Muscat.

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