TurbineAero: Fully managed, ITAR-compliant ERP in AWS



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About TurbineAero

Aerospace services
Chandler, AZ USA

TurbineAero is the world’s leading independent aerospace component maintenance, repair, and overhaul service providers focused on APUs and related products. They service military, commercial, and regional airline customers and provide a comprehensive maintenance solution for their legacy and new APU engine models. TurbineAero achieves global coverage from its modern facilities in Arizona (US) and Thailand.

The challenge

When it comes to maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aerospace components, particularly APUs and related products, TurbineAero is second to none. However, when it came time for the firm to upgrade their industry-specific ERP – Syteline by Infor – and find a new hosting solution, they needed a bit of help. To accomplish this task, TurbineAero turned to the experts at Turing Group, who led a team of external subject matter experts (SMEs), in a project to not only update the firm’s ERP software but also move it to AWS’ Public Cloud platform.

So, why AWS? Due to TurbineAero’s line of business, they fell under unique compliance requirements. They had to build an ITAR-compliant hosting solution for their Syteline ERP installation. ITAR (Internation Traffic in Arms Regulations) compliance meant the bar had been raised on TurbineAero and they could not simply run their ERP solution anywhere they chose. They needed to find a provider that could meet the demanding requirements of the ITAR specification while continuing to meet all of TurbineAero’s unique business needs.

In general, being ITAR compliant is a requirement for any company involved in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of goods and services covered under USML (United States Munitions List) which implement the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). For more information on ITAR, please visit: https://gov-relations.com/itar/.

Fortunately for TurbineAero, AWS’ GovCloud (US) Region supports compliance with ITAR and Turing Group, given the firm’s long exposure and expertise with Public Sector entities, had a tremendous amount of experience and was/is authorized to work within AWS’ secure GovCloud Region and resell services running in it. With AWS’ commitment to compliance programs of all types and Turing Group’s long history working in GovCloud, the combination was a perfect fit to help bring TurbineAero’s ERP to a modern cloud hosting platform.

The solution

Once TurbineAero reached out Turing Group and it became clear that they could run their commercial workload in AWS’ GovCloud (US) Region, thus inheriting AWS’ ITAR Compliance, the engagement and path forward became obvious and the firms began working together to build out a fully-managed AWS environment capable of achieving ITAR Compliance and meeting TurbineAero’s business objectives.

From that point, the objectives seemed pretty clear – build out a scalable, resilient environment for hosting this critical component of TurbineAero’s ongoing operation. Unfortunately, as is often the case, their were some bumps along the way. Not only did TurbineAero want to shift the hosting responsibility from an internal solution to an AWS-hosted solution, managed by Turing Group, they also wanted to take this opportunity to upgrade to the latest version of Syteline which, in turn, required upgrades to the underlying operating systems and databases (SQL Server). Given the size and import of the system to TurbineAero’s business, this had to be done with great care as downtime and data loss once the cutover was complete would have resulted in major operational disruption.

From the start, Turing Group took the lead on helping TurbineAero accomplish its goals and worked very closely with line of business and technical leaders within the firm to make sure all business objectives were adhered to and all relevant partied were informed along the way.

In the beginning, the move to AWS and inline upgrade seemed like it might be relatively straightforward. But, as is often the case when dealing with systems like an ERP that become central to a business operation, as time went on, complexities continued to arise as the joint team found many areas of Syteline where workflows were incompatible between the legacy system and the new system and customizations, particularly to the underlying database, needed to be re-engineered in order to work the way TurbineAero needed them to.

When it became obvious that TurbineAero had a more significant project on their hands than initially expected, they leaned on Turing Group to lead a team of cross-discipline experts to make the upgrade and hosting shift a reality. The Turing Group leadership and technical teams provided overall project management and guidance to this team as well as technical guidance and subject matter expertise on all components of the system from the AWS infrastructure, operating systems and databases needed to make a successful outcome in this project a reality. We became the point of contact for all external parties, including Syteline’s manufacturer, Infor, as the complex requirements of upgrading the system were worked through.

Now, after a long and complex upgrade, TurbineAero is running their Syteline ERP in a fully managed (by Turing Group) AWS environment that is not only resilient and flexible enough to meet their business needs but also helps the firm maintain compliance with the strict ITAR requirements they must operate under.

The business benefits

At first glance, the business benefits of TurbineAero’s move to AWS and their GovCloud (US) region seem clear – shift hosting of their industry-specific ERP to an ITAR-compliant provider such as AWS. If that is where the benefits ended, you could very likely call this project a success. But they don’t end there and TurbineAero now has the ability to leverage additional wins that stem from their decision to move to a fully-managed AWS environment running in AWS.

So, what are those other benfits? First and foremost, TurbineAero now has infinitely more flexibility than they once had in testing and making changes to their ERP. Consider for a moment that TurbineAero may have an interest in an additional line of business. Making changes to their ERP to support that line of business would have traditionally been dangerous and disruptive. By running this infrastructure in AWS, and with the help of their MSP, Turing Group, TurbineAero can now spin up a completely separate and parallel Syteline environment where they can test and vet changes before impacting production. The changes can be made and tested without significant investment in duplicate hardware – simply clone the environment using AWS’ volume snapshotting, stand it up, and make changes. Once those changes are made and tested, TurbineAero can decide whether they will keep the new environment or destroy it in favor of additional changes. All this without the headache and/or expense of procuring additional capacity to run the environment.

In addition to flexibility, TurbineAero’s environment is also quite resilient. At Turing Group, we stop short of saying that AWS provides a built-in DR solution because DR is much more complex than simply hosting replicated servers, but AWS does provide out-of-the-box functionality that can help companies like TurbineAero achieve massive gains in resiliency without the investment needed to implement a full-scale DR solution. By utilizing tools such as AWS’ RDS service, running in a Multi-AZ configuration, building in fault tolerance, across distinct data centers, becomes a much simpler endeavor than it may have been in a traditional, on-premise or co-located hosting environment.

Finally, and potentially most importantly, TurbineAero achieved a significant amount of confidence in their hosting provider and managed service partner that will allow them to focus less on things like IT infrastructure and more on the firm’s strategic objectives. I guess you could call this benefit piece of mind but that does sound awfully cliche – regardless of how true it might be.