Back in 2012, PostNL opted for an ‘all cloud’ strategy. The mail and parcel processor switched suppliers and re-established relationships with a number of existing IT service providers. This approach is more like a partnership, according to CIO Marcel Krom, who has been responsible for technology and information at PostNL since 2010. “There is quite a lot of complexity behind the cost models of the public cloud. An objective party that offers rational insights so that we can better organize our environment and save money is a welcome partner.
The relationship of PostNL and IDC Metri goes back a long way. The logistics service provider deals with many–often extensive–contracts. IDC Metri periodically reviews these contracts to see if they are still representative of what the market has to offer. That’s why PostNL has a benchmarking clause included in most contracts, so IDC Metri can regularly check and find if better rates or conditions can be agreed upon. IDC Metri also ensures that agreements are more future-proof.
“When you look at pricing, contract conditions and relationship management, IDC Metri plays the role of an objective referee,” Krom said.
“It is good to be objectively challenged in a business relationship.”Marcel Krom, CIO PostNL
Since 2014, PostNL uses two major public clouds: Azure and AWS. “You can see that those clouds have undergone enormous development in those years – and so have we. The environments that we initially placed there, between 2014 and 2016, were implemented on a particular version of that cloud. That means that you are already in a somewhat older environment, and that not all our applications can be used in the future.”
“We needed an objectification of our own metrics.”Marcel Krom, CIO PostNL
For this reason, Krom and his teams now mainly work with continuous integration/continuous deployment (CICD) according to the DevOps model. This means means that new cloud technology becomes available much faster. However, growth in the number of applications in the cloud is such that they wanted to challenge themselves. They wanted to see if the services purchased in the cloud could be better and cheaper. The challenge that PostNL faces is that the number of people working with applications in the cloud is also increasing.
“You can’t expect them to know from day one what a program or a database, or traffic to and from the cloud, is doing with the costs,” Krom said. “We, therefore, needed an objectification of our own metrics.”
This need became a question for IDC Metri, which has a Cloud Economics service. The question was about the maximum utilization and the maximum cost savings without creating risks.
“If you migrate applications to the cloud, it is just very difficult to predict what your costs will be,” Krom said. “The load on CPU, data and traffic is difficult to foresee, which is why it is important that you stay on top of it. To ensure that you are ‘running the tight ship.’ This requires a permanent mechanism. You cannot assign that to one or two people, it really has to be spread throughout the organization. To ensure that you also keep each other on their toes.”
In the background during this process, there was also an emphatic desire to be able to provide these services ourselves. “We have an AWS competence center of excellence that also keeps an eye on costs at Azure. They all have the knowledge, which they share with people who work with us in the cloud. We have invested the knowledge we have gained with IDC Metri in that team,” Krom said. “This ensures that the knowledge ‘stays warm’ and that we continue to train our people. Because there is quite a lot of complexity behind the public cloud cost models.”
Finally, Marcel Krom would like to add one more thing. “If you’ve been doing something with a partner for about three years, then you usually get some convenience. In a marriage that can be very healthy. But in a business relationship it is good to let yourself be objectively challenged now and then.”