Great Lakes Roofing Corporation
Realizing Huge Savings with a Lift, Shift, & Rethink
Great Lakes Roofing Corporation (GLRC) specializes in creating roofing solutions, along with performing roof repair and maintenance for commercial and multi-family residential buildings in the midwest. Over the years, the Soliant team has worked with Great Lakes to build a robust business application that functions as an enterprise resource planning system (ERP) tailored to meet their unique business needs. As with many small businesses, their custom business application is their secret sauce; it’s part of what gives them a competitive advantage.
Early in the pandemic, Great Lakes Roofing decided to purchase excess roofing supplies, allowing them to take on significant new work while other roofers struggled with supply chain issues. They rapidly grew as a result and knew they needed to move to the cloud so their technology could keep pace. The Great Lakes Roofing team turned to Soliant, their long-time partner, to help them make a smooth transition.
Their finance team wanted to stop paying tens of thousands of dollars every five years for hardware and instead move to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) pay-as-you-go model, where you only pay for what you use when you use it. Migration to our Platform-as-a-Service, Soliant.cloud®, built on AWS, improved the performance of their system and offset the capital expenditure costs of on-premises hardware. The move also allowed them to take advantage of the economies of scale and stability of Soliant.cloud.
Soliant’s project team worked with Great Lakes Roofing to identify a multi-phased migration path that delivered incremental wins, avoided the large capital outlay required to refresh hardware, and included a thorough testing plan to ensure a seamless final rollout. The approach included the following phases, each with multi-phased testing processes performed by our developers and, critically, by actual users. We made sure they felt comfortable and that we had everything in place before going live with each phase.
- Phase 1: Lift & shift their proprietary ERP system, built on Claris FileMaker Pro, into Soliant.cloud and set up Active Directory (AD) for single sign-on. This phase produced a 40-50% performance increase for mobile photo uploads.
- Phase 2: Migrated their Sage accounting system into the Soliant.cloud hosting environment.
- Phase 3: Implement Amazon WorkSpaces to provide a high-performance desktop for users to access the ERP and Sage systems remotely.
A lift and shift migration improved performance by 40-50% for mobile photo uploads.
Amazon WorkSpaces is modern remote desktop software. It provides secure, reliable, and scalable access to persistent desktops from anywhere at any time. It enables work from home and provides IT pros with the ability to easily and automatically assign and remove desktops.
Leveraging our extensive experience with this client, we were able to move through the discovery phase of our project management process very quickly. We identified that their 1.4 million jobsite pictures would be the biggest lift for Great Lakes Roofing. The most significant challenge was in the transfer of the pictures from their on-prem servers into the cloud, so we shipped them an AWS Snowcone.
AWS Snowcone is a 4.5-pound hard drive. It is the smallest member of the AWS Snow Family of edge computing, edge storage, and data transfer devices. SnowCone is ruggedized, secure, and purpose-built for use outside of a traditional data center. You can ship the device with data to AWS for offline data transfer, or you can transfer data online with AWS DataSync from edge locations.
Transferring the data still took 1-2 days but using Snowcone made the transfer significantly faster and more secure. Once they sent the device back to us, we connected it to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances for upload and optimized storage in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
We focused on a lean lift and shift to deliver value to the client quickly. Looking ahead, there are many opportunities for rearchitecting the system as we continue to partner with Great Lakes Roofing. For example:
- Use modern microservices architectural components like AWS Lambda to improve performance
- Their controller does a lot of data analysis using Excel. We have plans to use Amazon QuickSight ML Insights to visualize and speed up the analysis process, automate parts of it and provide more advanced insights. As with any AI project, data cleanup is the first step.
- Use AWS Amplify to rapidly build a web front-end for targeted features of the ERP system that will benefit from web-based access.
Soliant and Great Lakes Roofing project team members all knew there was an inherent upside to migrating to the cloud – reduced costs, improved performance for remote teams, and the ability to scale with a rapidly growing business. Taking an agile, phased approach using our mature project management process provided a means to deliver results quickly with plans to continue partnering together in the future to take full advantage of the AWS cloud.