AFGRI Agri Services is a leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises. Afrgri eAccounts is a banking platform like no other. It is designed to enable farmers and allows them to manage their entire financial operations on one convenient platform. They can also view and receive invoices, calculate storage rates according to grade and grade type, and draw reports of grain delivery.
AFGRI’s vision is to unlock agricultural potential and its banking platform eAccounts had to be built on infrastructure that enables all of the above and more. As farmers and their needs grow, so would the scale, innovation, and capabilities of the platform. AFGRI contacted long-term tech partner, Synthesis Software Technologies, and within as little as six months, eAccounts was sitting on AWS Cloud and reaping its benefits.
The development of the eAccounts digital platform by Synthesis began in 2014 and launched in 2015. Over the years it has expanded into many areas of the organisation. Since its launch, the application and its database have been hosted on-premise by one of AFGRI’s service providers. However, the on-premise solution was holding AFGRI back from the major innovations it sought to implement. The on-premise solution was not fit for purpose compared to their vision and created many challenges:
- The AFGRI team wanted to revolutionise banking for farmers. They did not want to build on the old but create with the new. They realised that the cloud was the best option for this.
- It was time-consuming to keep the old infrastructure at optimum performance. In the cloud this could be delegated.
- The team sought the most reliable system. The cloud would allow for easy monitoring, alerting, and route cause analysis.
- They wanted the bank-grade security that comes with the cloud. A cloud environment provides full logging of the infrastructure estate. If an incident such as a ransomware attack had to occur, the Cloud provides a comprehensive view that no data was lost and that the claim is false.
- They sought bank-grade security at a good price and AWS Cloud provided just that.
- The old platform was slow to add and enable all the features they envisioned creating. They wanted to optimise their spend and the cloud provides a pay-per-use model where they can switch off Q&A and the testing estate where they don’t use it and switch it back on compared to their on-prem model with non-transparent rates.
To provide the best-uninterrupted service to all customers, AFGRI made the decision to modernise eAccounts and migrate the platform to the public cloud. With the guidance of the Synthesis team, Amazon Web Services was chosen as the preferred cloud provider.
However, AFGRI did not have the skills in-house to perform the modernisation and migration. Partnering with Synthesis, AFGRI could focus on its expertise and Synthesis could enable this.
Due to its extensive AWS expertise and the in-depth knowledge it had of eAccounts, Synthesis was chosen as the technical expert to carry out this modernisation and migration. Johann Barnard, UNIGRO Chief Operating Officer, explains that “Synthesis provides team agility. They are highly professional individuals and are commendable.”
The solution was a combination of AWS Cloud and Synthesis architecture. This was the most cost-effective way to ensure the greatest reliability, security, and innovation. Synthesis set up a Landing Zone (LZ), rearchitected it, and placed it in the cloud. Synthesis rearchitected the infrastructure into a containerised Kubernetes environment that could take full advantage of the cloud. The infrastructure could now scale up and down, systems could be switched off when not in use, and any future innovations, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), could be easily attained. AFGRI now had an enabling, fit-for-cloud infrastructure with the greatest of benefits. Data, for example, could be easily replicated across multiple availability zones and the infrastructure could scale to easily manage platform demand.
With the help of AWS, AFGRI is now enabled to scale the eAccounts platform up or down within minutes, ensuring that interruption due to infrastructure issues is reduced or totally mitigated. This provides its customers with the best possible experience. Additionally, AFGRI now has fine-grained insight into what eAccounts costs to run monthly and has been enabled to control spend.
Monitoring has also been optimised through the transparency of the cloud. AFGRI is immediately alerted to any potential problems before they arise and there is self-healing in the infrastructure. AFGRI now operates off an exceptionally visible and stable environment. It received the full suite of benefits of the cloud, addressing all its challenges. “We now have utilisation transparency, and exceptional stability. This has proved to be a worthwhile investment,” explains Barnard.
By making use of AWS as well as an EKS cluster, AFGRI is able to deliver a better customer experience to eAccounts users. It can now focus on creating new features that truly matter to these users, rather than focusing on supporting the platform. In addition, other applications within AFGRI are now enabled to make the move, since the eAccounts team has forged the path and done most of the hard work already. The infrastructure has enabled AFGRI to unlock the potential of the cloud, enabling its customers in a fast-paced digital era.