South Africa-based AFGRI Agri Services, is an agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises.
As a partner in agriculture, the company provides services across the entire grain production and storage cycle. In addition, it offers financial support and solutions as well as inputs and hi-tech equipment, supported by a large retail footprint.
AFGRI Agri Services’ passion and focus for the development of new era farmers, through the Lemang Agricultural Services training programme, established in 2012, is developing strong future farmers and helping it to unlock agricultural potential not only in South Africa but Africa as a whole.
In doing so, the company is ensuring food security across the continent and has comprehensive and intimate knowledge of agriculture in South Africa and the region.
To achieve its mission of food security and the development of new age farmers, the company recently migrated its Afrgri eAccounts banking platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to enable farmers and allow them to manage their entire financial operations on one convenient digital platform.
In addition, the migration to AWS has been designed so that farmers can also view and receive invoices, calculate storage rates according to grade and grade type, and draw reports of grain delivery.
To achieve its vision of unlocking the agricultural potential, AFGRI’s banking platform eAccounts had to be built on infrastructure that enables full functionalities.
As farmers and their needs grow, so would the scale, innovation and capabilities of the platform and that’s why AFGRI contacted long-term technology partner, Synthesis Software Technologies to help it manage the migration to AWS and within 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’s business and operations. 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. In particular, the on-premise solution was not fit for purpose and created many challenges including:
- 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
AFGRI 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 model provides a pay-per-use model where they can switch off applications not in use it and switch those 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, AWS 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 implementation to happen.
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, Chief Operating Officer, UNIGRO, explained 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. To this end, Synthesis set-up a Landing Zone (LZ), rearchitected it and placed it in the cloud.
According to Synthesis, it rearchitected the infrastructure into a containerised Kubernetes environment that could take full advantage of the cloud. Following this approach, 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.
Furthermore, 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. The company now operates off an exceptionally visible and stable IT infrastructure environment and it has 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,” said Barnard.
By making use of AWS as well as an EKS cluster, AFGRI can now deliver a better customer experience to eAccounts users. In addition, 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.Click below to share this article