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Star CRM moves from AWS to OCI, scales new markets, while improving developer productivity by 40%

Star CRM – best CRM System UK
“Oracle APEX on OCI has allowed us to reduce development time and costs. This has increased our development team’s productivity by 40%.”
Kareem Qureshi, Founder and CEO, Star CRM

The Star CRM team is comprised of 30 passionate, talented, results-oriented individuals from three diverse worlds—technology, marketing, and data brought together for a singular aim of delivering world-class CRM software and services at a fair and reasonable price.

Named the Best CRM Cloud Vendor in 2018 by Frost & Sullivan in Malaysia, the company ranked as one of the top 25 most promising CRM vendors in Asia-Pacific by CIO Outlook Magazine. Among others, Star CRM’s client portfolio includes but is not limited to Pfizer, AXA, Japan Tobacco International, Honeywell, CIMB, Telekom Malaysia, Microsoft, DHL, Fonterra, P&G, Ritz-Carlton, and more.

Initially focused solely on enterprise clients, over the last five years, Star CRM’s target market has evolved to include small businesses and SME customers, leading to the need for rapid solution scaling and availability—motivating their move to the cloud. Also, Star CRM realized that it would be challenging to deliver and sustain its solutions for this new market without a cost-effective cloud. Previously hosted on AWS, Star CRM faced several challenges around database management, performance, cloud provider support, and licensing complexity, impacting both resources and productivity. Eventually, migrating fully onto OCI resulted in 30% in productivity gains and cost savings of over 25%, among other benefits.

The Move to OCI

Star CRM solutions caters to enterprise and SME customers, with options for both customization and ready plug-and-play deployment. Their SaaS offerings are 70% out-of-the-box, requiring only 30% customization and configuration, which means short lead times for go-lives. Star CRM choose to migrate their entire suite of CRM solutions to create development and deployment efficiencies by overcoming following challenges:

Database Management: The manual configuration and maintenance of essential functions such as back-ups on AWS proved to be administratively taxing and expensive. Along with databases replication limitations for development and UAT environments. This limitation further hindered the software development process due to complicated set-up of development, test and UAT environments. Causing development delays and increasing workload for Star CRM’s DBA team to set-up and manage these environments.

Performance: Lack of ability to autoscale memory and CPU for peak periods on AWS created performance issues.

Cloud provider support: Support on AWS cloud was limited to a standard ticketing and with no access to Star CRM’s database environment, meant slower and delayed resolutions.

Licensing: Primary due confusing AWS licensing model and because of the way licensing works on third-party cloud providers, Star CRM was unable to scale its hardware without changing the licensing and was stuck with a maximum instance size and RAM size. The licensing policy on AWS wasn’t favorable for the business as it created administrative overheads and not sustainable for their SaaS offerings.

The Suite of Oracle Products Used

Star CRM’s entire suite of CRM software solutions known as STARDriver® is developed on Oracle APEX.

The following list includes the OCI services that Star CRM have used in their deployment:

Oracle Object Storage: OCI Object Storage service enables Star CRM to securely store any type of data in its native format. With built-in redundancy, Object Storage is ideal for building applications that require scale and flexibility. The service can consolidate multiple data sources for analytics, backup, or archive purposes. Star CRM is efficiently utilizing this service to back up all environments, including images of each virtual machine (VM).

Compute Service: Oracle offers secure and elastic compute options in the cloud that range from flexible virtual machines (flex VMs) and bare metal servers at a lower cost. Customers can choose processors from Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and Arm. Star CRM’s cloud deployment used AMD E3, E4, and E2 processors.

Oracle Cloud Compute: OCI provides fast, flexible, and affordable compute capacity to fit any workload need from performant bare metal servers and virtual machines (VMs) to lightweight containers. OCI Compute provides uniquely flexible VM and bare metal instances for optimal price-performance.

Oracle Database Services: Oracle Database Service has enabled Star CRM IT team to create and manage full-featured Oracle Database instances in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). the IT team was able to provision databases on virtual machines with block storage volumes providing cost-efficient cloud database services.

Block Volumes: Star CRM utilized highly reliable, performant block volume storage from Oracle. With built-in redundancy, Block Volumes are persistent and durable beyond the lifespan of a virtual machine and can scale to 1 PB per Compute instance. Block Volumes were perfect for the Star CRM use case because it let them expand and scale storage while offering persistent and durable storage. Star CRM uses Block Volume Standard with up to 25K IOPS for web servers and applications servers and Block Volume Higher Performance with up to 50K IOPS for database servers.

Oracle Email Delivery: helps Star CRM reach their customers and users with ability to send bulk email with high rates of successful inbox placement.

Virtual cloud network (VCN): Star CRM uses a virtual private network (VPN) that is set up in Oracle data centers. It closely resembles a traditional network with firewall rules and specific types of communication gateways that Star CRM has chosen to use.

OCI Cloud Guard: Oracle Cloud Guard helps Star CRM to detects misconfigured resources and insecure activity across tenants and provides security administrators with the visibility to triage and resolve cloud security issues.

Oracle APEX: Star CRM team has developed entire stack of CRM application in less time and with minimal coding, reducing costs on Oracle APEX. The self-service database provisioning and automated lifecycle management allowed developers to easily deploy and manage databases.

Migration Path

The Star CRM team spent 3 months on a POC before feeling confident to migrate their production environment. Star CRM started by migrating one of their development environments to a VM Database instance with the goal of testing specific functionality relating connectivity with external systems.

Star CRM development then team stood up an autonomous and VM database to compare results and discover that due to certain restrictions in the autonomous database in comparison to VM database and choosing this would require less modification to work. Once all functionality and performance were tested, the team started to move the production workload from AWS to OCI.

The CRM software STARDriver® relies heavily on REST services. Star CRM is using open VPN to connect to OCI. The image was taken from Oracle Marketplace allowing a relatively simple set-up supported by thorough documentation. The ability to manage replication and pluggable databases from the OCI console allowed the development team to complete very complex tasks without any human error and in record time.

Now Star CRM has fully migrated their database and application servers from AWS to OCI.

Results

The move to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure from AWS has helped increase the Star CRM team’s productivity by 30% and improve overall cost efficiencies by 25%. In addition, the move to Oracle Cloud has helped the customer effectively evolve its SaaS subscription model and pass on the cost efficiencies to their customers, delivering greater value.

Today the company saves about 30% in costs associated with monitoring, patching, upgrading, and managing the database. In addition, the features and functionalities provided by Oracle APEX on OCI have allowed Star CRM to complete more complex projects for clients, besides reducing development time and costs. As a result, the company has improved the development team’s productivity up to 40%.

Hosting their solutions on Oracle Cloud enables Star CRM to scale for peak periods dynamically. The company can now provide a level of performance with scalable costs. It pays for additional CPU only when needed. Implementing Oracle Cloud’s licensing-included options has helped remove the need to create a new agreement for each new instance, as in the case of AWS, and the associated cost. This has created up to 50% cost saving for every new license.

Star CRM has further optimized cost savings by shutting down servers when not needed and simply paying for storage. Access to Oracle support is way superior to running Oracle on AWS or on-premises. In addition, Oracle support has been able to diagnose technical issues much faster and efficiently – enabling Star CRM dev teams to create UAT environments by simply replicating databases with a click of a few buttons.

Next Steps

Along with near future plans to migrate to fully managed APEX service, Star CRM is currently evaluating autonomous database with the machine learning algorithms. To learn more about Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and see how we can help you with cloud adoption, see the following resources:

By Shweta Bhatia Gupta,
Product Manager, Oracle
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