Uniper accelerates digital transformation with Openlink Cloud

CASE STUDY

Uniper accelerates digital transformation with Openlink Cloud

Global energy company opens new potential for trading and risk management

Agility and speed aren’t always terms you associate with the energy industry. Yet for Uniper, a company that generates, trades, and markets energy on a large scale, these traits are key to their business.

Since emerging out of E.ON, the company has been undergoing a comprehensive internal transformation, and has become a strong brand on its own. The name “Uniper” stands for “Unique performance” and is one reason why this company has put itself at the front of digital transformation.

By digitizing their own internal processes, Uniper is moving at speed to reshape both their business and the industry they serve.

Using a maritime analogy, what many companies fear is a long-distance cruise, Uniper has turned into a speed sail race. And if there’s a short cut available, they aren’t afraid to sail through a storm.

Moving from concept to reality


In 2016, Uniper found itself in the middle of a perfect storm. A strong need to move away from their traditional data center hosting, to modernize their application landscape, and to give its business users much higher flexibility, strongly resonated with the new Openlink cloud strategy.

After an executive meeting with Openlink, Uniper expressed an interest in accelerating their digital transformation by moving their core trade and risk management solution to Openlink’s public cloud.

By doing this, Uniper saw an opportunity to:

  • Streamline their trading and risk management workflows.
  • Provide their traders with advanced business intelligence and dynamic, real-time analytics for smarter, faster, more proactive decision-making.
  • Make infrastructure management faster, more efficient, and cheaper.

Proving the concept
Over three months in 2017, Uniper and Openlink worked together to run a proof-of-concept (POC). For this they moved and tested a large sample of their business-critical trading workflows to the Openlink cloud. These workflows included Uniper’s transaction settlement, trade extract, and trading simulation functions.

The exercise was an unqualified triumph. Under the ideal conditions of the POC, the team was able to reduce run times down by about 80 percent, which provided the confidence to explore the potential of the project.

According to Mark Williams, VP of Trading IT for Uniper, his team was also able to address key concerns about security and the interfacing with other applications during the POC.

Planning and executing the migration
Spurred by the success of the POC, the Uniper and Openlink teams began to plan and to fully migrate the Openlink trade and risk management solution Endur, that underpins Uniper’s European power business.

The migration included:

  • Moving both the Openlink application and Uniper’s critical data stores to the cloud.
  • Upgrading the underlying Oracle database on the fly because the version that Uniper had been using wasn’t cloud-ready.

The process was incredibly complex and required a high-degree of planning, skill, and coordination across Uniper, its partners and the Openlink professional services team. At the weekend of the go-live, about 80 people were supporting the transition from Duesseldorf, Long Island and Bangalore.

Despite the challenges, the migration and cutover went well. What’s more, thanks to the preparation, the hard work and cooperation on all sides, the post go-live phase was managed successfully too, which had been seen as the biggest risk.

What gets me excited is the potential we now have, from intraday risk trading to AI for predictive modelling. The power of the cloud is in the business opportunities it opens up. Hence we are about to move our gas trading instance into the Openlink cloud as well.
Mark Williams
VP of Trading IT for Uniper

Getting value-driven results


Since the move, the Uniper team has started to enjoy the first benefits and is preparing for more:

Mastering the challenges of the European energy markets
European energy markets are seeing increased volatility. Stable and reliable EOD and APM functionality is crucial, and was the key deliverable for the project from the beginning. Thanks to having access to more scalable, faster, smarter intraday reporting and position monitoring, Uniper’s traders will be able to better develop and seize opportunities in the market.

Faster, easier, more frequent upgrades
The cloud is an enabler for further reducing costs in upgrade processes. System upgrades become faster, easier, and most importantly, cost effective.  Patches can be tested and deployed in a fraction of what was needed previously, which became evident during the project. Additionaly, Uniper was also able to reduce environment costs significantly.

For Uniper CIO Damian Bunyan, upgrades had been so painfully expensive that in many cases they chose not to upgrade. That’s no longer the case: the cloud makes it easier to keep up on the current versions and enjoy the latest software features.

Simpler issue resolution
Now that Openlink supplies both the software and the infrastructure, issue resolution is easier than ever. In the past, it had been difficult to isolate an issue and work on a fix.

As Marco Scherer, SVP Sales & Trading IT at Uniper, points out, “Previously when we had issues or found bugs, we had to go through the time and expense of creating a working instance with the same data in another location. We would have to perform our tests there, hoping we could replicate the findings. Finally, you end up sending physical data copies to the vendor. This is over. Now all our testing is in the cloud.”

Ongoing performance improvements
With over 30 interfaces connecting to the application and more than 7 TB of data, the environment needs to be continuously tuned for optimal processing. A process made possible – and much easier – through the cloud.

Continuing the journey


Sandy Weil, Managing Director at Openlink, confirmed that the benefits the Uniper team is seeing are typical to many clients who move to the cloud. “There is less waiting on technology and more business execution time. Issues are solved quicker and the dev/test cycle happens continuously. Security and stability are also less of a worry.”

So, what can they do with that extra resource? According to Mark Williams, “We’re seeing great performance in the production environment and our traders are happy, but this is just the start. What gets me excited is the potential we now have, from intraday risk trading to AI for predictive modelling. The power of the cloud is in the business opportunities it opens up. Hence we are about to move our gas trading instance into the Openlink cloud as well.”  

Uniper knows the race is just beginning. They have a great start in leading the European energy market with the move to the cloud. But like any good sailor, they are already planning for their next regatta.  

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