Royal Rotra: Embarking on a New Integration Platform in Azure in Eight Months

Royal Rotra is ambitious and aims to further expand as a global digital freight forwarder. Over the past few years, the organization independently developed various ERP systems, an API platform, and a customer portal. To make their ambition a reality, we designed and built a new integration platform in Azure for Rotra in just eight months.

Since the sale of its 'Road Transport' business unit, Rotra has focused on the digital expansion and growth of its air and sea freight activities as a digital freight forwarder. From their ambition, Rotra wanted to take the next digital step in the cloud as quickly as possible. Seven core applications with essential logistics and financial processes urgently needed to be migrated from the existing on-premises integration environment. This presented a significant challenge: designing and building an integration platform in Azure in record time.

Fast and Complex

The most challenging IT projects are characterized by two factors: speed and complexity. The project at Rotra had to be not only fast but also complex. Over its more than 110-year history, Rotra had accumulated an extensive IT legacy. This meant that applications had to be untangled from a 'spaghetti infrastructure,' where business-critical applications were linked to and dependent on other (business-critical) applications. In this process, any mistake or carelessness could have immediate harmful consequences for the organization.

To lay the foundation for successful digital innovation both during and after the project, Motion10, an HSO company, provided strategic architectural advice before the migration. We engaged with Rotra to understand their (future) desires and needs in relation to their application landscape. Based on this, we established four fundamental rules:

  1. No complex business logic in interfaces.
  2. Data transfers primarily through APIs.
  3. No dependencies between applications.
  4. All services must be modular.

Intelligence Embedded in Source Systems

During the project, rules 1 and 2 were the most critical success factors. We embedded all intelligence in the source systems, such as the CRM system. The source data in this system, the relationship data, was retained there. We made optimal use of two Azure Integration Services: Azure API Management and Service Bus.

With Azure API Management, we created an API layer without complex business logic in interfaces, and then, through Service Bus, we transferred all relationship data 1-to-1 via data transfers through APIs. This allowed the project to progress rapidly. What was remarkable was that Rotra's end-users and business partners hardly noticed this major operation 'under the hood'; all systems remained available with minimal downtime.

Empowering Digital Transformation

With the new integration platform in Azure, completely independent of the applications connected to it, Rotra is ready to achieve its ambition. The IT organization is now virtually unlimited in its ability to facilitate or even initiate digital innovation based on the business’s wishes and needs. Rotra aims to fully digitize its services and work in a high-quality data-driven way. In the short term the following three matters have the highest priority:

  1. Quickly scaling up resources
  2. Establishing a data warehouse and implementing a BI tool
  3. Expanding the API platform

"We can now call ourselves a more than 110-year-old organization without IT legacy. Instead, with a new integration platform in Azure, we are ready to achieve our ambition."

Samir Rharouadi Manager ICT Product Development, Royal Rotra

Samir Rharouadi, Manager ICT Product Development at Royal Rotra:

"In this project, our partner has demonstrated a sharp focus. The fundamental rules from the strategic architectural advice have genuinely enabled this project to proceed at lightning speed. In addition, the team  has been very flexible: they were readily available and accessible, and when needed, we could immediately call upon an additional consultant. The result feels very special. We can now call ourselves a more than 110-year-old organization without IT legacy. Instead, with a new integration platform in Azure, we are ready to achieve our ambition."

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