Cloud-hosted enterprise asset management with ZNAPZ

Cloud-hosted enterprise asset management with ZNAPZ

6 January 2023

Kilian Niemegeerts

ZNAPZ is a provider of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solutions. When they decided to migrate their core operations to the cloud, they wanted to focus on flexibility, operational costs, security, and reliability. In this case study, we’ll discuss how FlowFactor helped them adapt part of an on-premise application to a cloud-hosted solution, and how this project bolstered our existing long-term partnership.

EVE: a lightweight EAM solution

ZNAPZ’ solutions help their customers manage and track their assets through their entire lifecycle from acquisition to disposal. As EAM experts, they noticed that most of the market’s solutions were developed for enterprises with numerous assets. This means those solutions tend to be feature-rich, but too broad in scope for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or large enterprises with limited asset management needs.

To better assist clients in that underserved market segment, they decided to develop EVE. EVE (EAM platform with Valuable Extensions) is an affordable and lightweight EAM platform based on IBM’s technology and infused with ZNAPZ’ expertise to keep things simple for its end users.

The importance of lower operational costs and more flexible onboarding capabilities for EVE led ZNAPZ to a cloud-hosted solution, but they weren’t sure how to approach this project. They asked us to help migrate their application to a modern cloud environment.

First steps

As they developed and expanded the application stack of their new platform, ZNAPZ noticed an increase in operational and infrastructure costs. They started to search for a professional hosting partner, and they first approached us three years ago.

Initially, we helped ZNAPZ with a private and externally hosted solution based on virtualizedvirtualised platforms with IBM’s Db2 and WebSphere software installed on each instance. Our services included implementation, configuration, and complete operational management, while ZNAPZ focused on the application layer.

Choosing a cloud provider

Since their privately hosted solution lacked flexibility, we decided together with ZNAPZ to move towards a public cloud solution to better support sustainable growth and client onboarding. Public cloud platforms also generally operate with a pay-as-you-go model and have advanced automation capabilities. This meant ZNAPZ’ goal of lowering operational costs would be easier to achieve as well. 

Once we had decided on the public cloud, our next task was to find the cloud provider that best suited ZNAPZ’ requirements.

“We quickly noticed that the Google Cloud Platform was the perfect fit when it came to hosting modern application platforms. Compared to some of its competitors and on-premise solutions, a similar setup in GCP requires significantly fewer resources, infrastructure, and licences. This results in a lower operating cost, and Google Cloud’s ease of use means that developers will be able to get started right away.” — Johan Janssen

Built for growth

We started the migration process by analysing and reconfiguring ZNAPZ’ existing services. They are expecting a “hockey stick demand curve”, meaning demand will soon skyrocket once the majority of smaller organisations realise the vast potential of cloud-powered EAM solutions. This potentially explosive growth means that efficiently onboarding large amounts of new clients will be essential to meeting ZNAPZ’ ambitious growth targets. 

Lowering the ensuing onboarding costs requires more than just migrating to the cloud and calling it a day. That’s why FlowFactor’s experts focused on automation. Our scripting now let’slets ZNAPZ onboard clients in a matter of minutes, with almost no manual configuration required.

“The Google Cloud Platform gave us a boost in many areas, some of which we did not expect. Not only does it host our application and infrastructure, but it structures our data, manages our DNS, and keeps our certificates up to date automatically.” — Danny Bols

The importance of automation

Besides taking care of a private hosting solution and a migration to the cloud, FlowFactor is also helping ZNAPZ manage their platform as part of our ongoing long-term partnership.

“FlowFactor is a technological partner that provides us with peace of mind. Thanks to their advanced scripting and automating capabilities, they make sure that our solution will always be available for our customers.” — Danny Bols

By focusing on automation through scripting, we managed to significantly reduce costs for ZNAPZ and make the onboarding process more flexible. We use Terraform for its Infrastructure as Code (IaC) capabilities to set up new environments, and Ansible for Configuration as Code (CaC). Getting to know EVE required an initial investment from our side, but the return for other customers and projects is obvious, so we were more than happy to do so.

Operational management

Just like for their privately hosted solution, we helped ZNAPZ with not only implementation and configuration, but also with complete operational management.

FlowFactor guided us in setting up the environment, and we didn’t have to worry about it beyond that. Every part of operations management is taken care of, from proactive maintenance to patches, upgrades, and support.” — Danny Bols

Using their in-depth DevOps knowledge, our Google Cloud Certified experts automated nearly every part of these operational tasks. Our dedicated scripts and services make sure that monitoring, alerting, and disaster recovery of the front and back-end of ZNAPZ’ Kubernetes-based platform is optimised. Because ZNAPZ uses Google’s Cloud SQL as a cloud-native data solution, we only had to worry about monitoring, backup management, and security for their storage. 

Security was especially important, since ZNAPZ’ database is the beating heart of their application. Convincing their clients to move critical on-premise EAM tools to the cloud also required airtight security and availability guarantees. Thanks to the combined power of FlowFactor and Google Cloud, ZNAPZ can guarantee their clients that EVE, though affordable and lightweight, still meets the highest standards in security and availability.

Also looking for a long-term technological partner? Need some expert guidance about cloud migrations, DevOps, or automation? Give us a call, and we’ll discuss the possibilities together. And if you need an accessible EAM solution, we’ll gladly get you in touch with ZNAPZ!

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