Merlot Aero – Cloud Platform Management

Learn how global Airline SaaS vendor Merlot Aero have been liberated to focus on their product, leaving the management of the Azure Platform to the specialists at Parallo.

In Summary:

Parallo empowers Merlot Aero to achieve maximum agility, speed to market, and a competitive edge.

A cloud-native business

Merlot Aero is a New Zealand owned and operated business that was founded in 2008 to provide ERP software to the global airline industry. Serving 33 airlines, across 15 countries, their industry acclaimed product delivers a managed SaaS ERP solution that optimises aircraft and crew utilisation. From the outset, Merlot Aero have utilised Microsoft Azure to deliver their software to market. At heart they are a cloud-native business with a passionate desire to develop systems and processes that enable maximum agility as well as speed to market. Their global customer base, combined with the critical nature of their software, requires that Merlot Aero operate 24x7/365 days a year, and must ensure the highest levels of service delivery and availability.

Critical service delivery

With a strong motivation to push the boundaries with their product and offer their customers a highly innovative solution, Merlot Aero needed a robust service delivery model to ensure a seamless operation. As a fast-growing business, it was important for Merlot Aero to provide a high level of service management on top of developing and delivering their ERP software. Mark McCaughan, CEO of Merlot Aero says “We attained quite a scale of growth within a short time span and were spending too much time dealing with platform issues. We knew we couldn’t continue to operate like that, so we were in search of a service provider that could assist us on that front”. Merlot Aero sought a partner that would provide a robust service delivery model and manage the Microsoft Azure platform for them. “Infrastructure is a necessary part of our solution set, but it isn’t really the essence of this business. We want to focus on delivering a great product to our customers, and not have to deal with all the infrastructure that the product sits on”, says McCaughan. After researching a selection of service providers, Parallo were chosen as a trusted and reliable partner.

Optimising the infrastructure

Parallo worked closely with Merlot Aero to understand their business and technical challenges, and built a customised Azure Managed Service to solve those challenges. “Leveraging our proven Managed Operations service framework, our initial aim was to take their infrastructure problems away, so that they could focus on building and delivering their software. Once we had the infrastructure under control, combined with our 24x7 monitoring and on-call support, we were then able to provide further value by managing all of the service delivery aspects”, says Symon Thurlow, CEO, Parallo.

Implementing an “automate first” policy, Parallo augmented the Azure out-of-the box tools with a significant amount of automation capability. By building on those automations and taking a continuous improvement and innovation approach, Parallo has considerably improved the overall service delivery for Merlot Aero. To mitigate the difficult and time consuming task of interpreting the monthly Azure invoice, Parallo wrote an application to automate the ingestion of the data and present it to Merlot Aero in a meaningful way, including the complex allocation of shared Azure components across multiple tenants, dependant on specific factors. With a simplified and meaningful invoice, Merlot Aero are now able to make better informed decisions.

Achieving speed to market

The Azure Managed Service has been instrumental in reducing the number of platform disruptions and providing greatly increased performance and availability. “I no longer need to talk to my customers about service delivery issues, and that is a massive winner for me,” says McCaughan. The service provides robust processes and systems, along with proactive monitoring and remediation which means that Merlot Aero can feel confident in their cloud platform. Due to the optimised design of the environment as well as enhanced monitoring and management, platform disruptions are now an exception, with customers typically experiencing 100% availability. With the cloud infrastructure being comprehensively managed, the team at Merlot Aero are now free to focus on their priorities – their product and their customers. They can also look to the future for product and technology improvements. “With the Azure platform expertly managed by Parallo, we’re now set up to be at the leading edge of the innovation curve”, says McCaughan. “With Parallo behind us, we feel confident to push the boundaries with our product”. The most significant benefit of the Azure Managed Service is speed to market. With the robustness and scalability of the underlying technology, and the streamlined service delivery, Merlot Aero have been able to improve their software development practices and increase their release cycles. “In the SaaS market faster is better, and that makes us more competitive. Our customers like the speed with which they can have new solutions and improvements,” says McCaughan. “Our speed to market is now part of our product pitch and our business positioning – and that’s gold”.

“With the Azure platform expertly managed by Parallo, we’re now set up to be at the leading edge of the innovation curve.”

Mark McCaughan, Merlot Aero | CEO

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