Founded in 1986, Shire Pharmaceuticals is a global biopharmaceutical company with major operations in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland. The organization is structured across three businesses—human genetic therapies, regenerative medicine, and specialty pharmaceuticals. Shire employs over 5,000 people in 29 countries, and in 2011 reported revenues of more than $4 billion. Shire has treatments available in nearly 50 countries.
Shire’s IT infrastructure was built over the course of a series of mergers and acquisitions. Yvonne Jones, Data Integration Director at Shire, describes the situation, “Over the years we accumulated a disparate systems landscape with many servers, unique hardware, and limited standards and policies for maintaining the environment. This included at least four different SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) Business Intelligence (BI) instances.”
Shire uses SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 3.0 as a reporting solution for the company’s commercial data warehouse. Various teams within and outside the United States use the BOBJ platform to perform analytics in different areas of the business. Jones explains, “We were looking for options that would enable us to provision a BOBJ instance quickly while minimizing costs. We were interested in cloud technology and we knew that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was already being used by another part of our organization. The IT department needed to prove to its business partners that we could offer SAP solutions in a cloud environment, and we decided to use AWS to demonstrate our capability to do so.”
Shire worked with Run Consultants, a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) with extensive SAP experience, for the project. Together, Shire and Run Consultants defined critical success factors for the project that included having a BOBJ instance successfully up and running in AWS within a few weeks. Jones says, “We were trying to get the development and testing accomplished within three to four weeks. Scalability was also an important consideration to the project’s success.”
To start the project, Run Consultants first replicated a copy of Shire’s existing non-production environment on the AWS platform and established connectivity between Shire and AWS. Then, Run Consultants set up and deployed Shire’s SAP BOBJ instance to AWS. Run Consultants used Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle Database.
When Shire compared response time and performance time between the onsite BOBJ and the AWS BOBJ environments, the company found no difference. According to Jones, the implementation was straightforward, “This was definitely faster than a traditional setup. It would have taken us at least three additional weeks internally to get the hardware in place, and then install the operating system and the software. The entire project with AWS was accomplished in four weeks and AWS met all of our success factor.”
From Shire’s perspective, having a solution in the cloud proved to be a viable option. Jones says, “At Shire, our view is that we’re not really an IT company, we’re a pharmaceutical company. Infrastructure is something that is not going to be our strength. So we want to look at how are we going to lower the cost and find viability in less expensive solutions. Using AWS for this project allowed us to focus on that and we saw that we could achieve a good user experience accessing data from the cloud. AWS won my team and me over.”