The Light and Gas Operator extended its on-premises data center by creating a comprehensive testing environment and leveraging Oracle Cloud services.
The world of energy has a compelling need to open up to new digital technologies to overcome the rigidities that could hinder its development and growth. However, we should overcome the natural resistance that can stop these companies to embrace the necessary technological breakthrough.
A good example is the case of Enegan, the Light and Gas provider and operator of Tlc, who recently decided to bet on the cloud overcoming the initial concerns. As Enegan’s CIO, Giacomo Morelli, tells Energyuptech, Enegan is a company that is experiencing a phase of strong growth:
We are active in the light and gas resale market in 2010. But especially since 2016 we grew a lot: today we bill about 400 million euros throughout the national territory, with a capillary sales network. We have about 90,000 customers, 70% from the business world, with about 130,000 invoices issued each month.
The need to improve the billing process
Enegan, in short, saw its business boost and felt the growing need to dispose appropriate application tools and build an infrastructure capable of having the dynamism to growth.
We have two Data Centers for our entire infrastructure. This architecture over time has started to become a bit tight, due to the evolution of the cloud and other technologies.
The cloud is suitable for improving the billing process, which by its nature is characterized by total care and precision. In fact, the application system with a single code implies that the producer develops and maintains a single instance for all its customers (energy suppliers). This mechanism provides for continuous developments and updates. In fact, between one invoicing and the other, it can take place dozens of code updates and this obliges to a particular attention.
The Cloud for testing
The challenge for Enegan was to fully and safely govern the billing process in a context partially held by a third party, the software manufacturer.
Often, we have dozens of releases every week and we always chase the optimization of the performances, risking having some impacts on some strategic processes of the company. We cannot have surprises or slowdowns in the invoice’s issuance. There are technical and regulatory aspects to be respected.
Therefore, in order to govern and optimize the billing process, Enegan should have a complete test database, which had similar characteristics to the production ones. One of the first critical issues that the company had to face was the need to implement the project quickly, identifying the new infrastructure to be adopted, installing it and making it operational.
The analysis carried out with the partner Bridge Consulting | Kirey Group showed that Enegan needed access to a service of this type only for a limited period per month, so the cloud was immediately very convenient even as a long-term choice.
The cloud gives us the opportunity to have an up-to-date environment that allows us to test these releases in almost real time and face all the billing without surprises. If during the test phase, there are aspects that do not convince us we could intervene.
Marco Bettini, Managing Partner of Bridge Consulting | Kirey Group, added that:
The cloud has incredible flexibility, we can create temporary environments, without relying instead on on-premises structures that would present important costs. The cloud also allows you to experiment on products of any nature. From a technical point of view, there were no difficulties, the most complex aspect was to convince Enegan that the cloud and - in the specific case, Oracle cloud - could be as secure an infrastructure as the on premise. In fact, mistakenly, you may think that the cloud could expose you to greater risks. But, data in the Oracle cloud, encrypted by definition, is even more secure than in the on-premises infrastructure.
The second-generation Oracle cloud is designed to be an enterprise cloud, designed for production loads.
The project was initially born with a bit of skepticism, like all new things we struggled to understand them from multiple points of view. In particular, the cloud asked us some questions in terms of security and integration with our systems. However, the project was then realized in a few weeks
explains Morelli. More in detail, the project was divided into three phases: the activation of the cloud, the networking phase to configure the extension of Enegan’s data center to the Oracle data center in Frankfurt and the realization of the Virtual Private Cloud Network, and the activation of the Data Guard through an Iaas service of Oracle. Finally, Bridge Consulting | Kirey Group activated the backup with a retention of once a month at low cost.
Special attention to IT
Ultimately, it has become extremely easy for Enegan to create on-demand testing environments consisting of the database and a virtual machine to test the most critical workloads. So much so that, according to Morelli:
This project has paved the way for us to understand the true possibilities of the cloud, so much so that in 2022 we will have the study of other projects that will affect this technology.
The cloud, of course, is part of the wider IT focus of the Enegan Group:
We are an atypical company from this point of view, as we were founded by entrepreneurs from the computer world. The basic culture exists and is very strong, so that 22 people out of 250 total employees work in IT, an uncommon situation in the energy world. We have applications and portals developed entirely with our resources. Obviously, we cannot count on an endless portfolio: projects must always be well argued, precisely because our internal interlocutors are skilled. I can say, however, since I arrived at the company in 2018, the needs have increased: above all there is the need to do more things in less time, so we need IT tools increasingly performing and suitable.