Why millions of flowers and plants are billed in the cloud

  • Ben Owen
    EMEA SAP Sales and Business Head at Amazon Web Services
    03/12/2018 | Innovation | 362 views

Customers only demand one thing from your financial systems: 100 percent availability. Because there is nothing more inconvenient than a payment that does not come through. Especially when you are one of the biggest auction companies of any type in the world, you can’t afford the bad publicity that would come from a failure in your financial systems. So how do you keep the billing running? Ben Owen, EMEA SAP Sales and Business Leader at AWS, shows how Royal FloraHolland did it.

The Netherlands is famous as a world center for flower growing and is home to the planet’s biggest flower auction in Aalsmeer, run by Royal FloraHolland. In 2017, the auction handled the sale of 12.5 billion plants and flowers, resulting in revenue of 4.7 billion euros (5.33 billion dollars). Royal FloraHolland is also a cooperative for flower growers, bringing the industry together for the mutual benefit of its members and customers.

The last couple of years the ambition of the company moved from traditional auctioning to becoming the world’s leading digital marketplace for the ornamental plant sector. Royal FloraHolland felt the need to respond to new, fast digital developments, otherwise the company could be overtaken by the online world. For example, some growers have started doing business directly with their customers and the alternative online marketplaces are picking up.

Wall Street of flowers

Dubbed “Wall Street for flowers”, the enormous operation of Royal FloraHolland requires the support of thousands of staff and sophisticated systems. The finance department alone has 70 people working to process, record, and analyze the millions of transactions that pass through the auction each day. To help support these operations, Royal FloraHolland recently completed a pioneering project to move its financial accounting and reporting system to the cloud. When the company’s old financial accounting and reporting system came to the end of its support contract, Royal FloraHolland decided to move their SAP financial accounting and reporting system to the cloud. Especially to rapidly provision compute, storage, and networking infrastructure for other systems in minutes versus weeks or months with traditional IT infrastructure. The company thus layed the foundations for the step towards becoming a digital marketplace.


Planting Seeds for Success

First, simple and repetitive tasks were automated in the cloud. For creating backups, starting and stopping instances, and rotating snapshots, for example, with the main benefit being reducing the risk of human error. Secondly, Royal FloraHolland wanted to be able to monitor the environment to help ensure data is protected. To do so, they built security into every layer. Royal FloraHolland is now able to ensure compliance with internal and national data-protection rules, such as keeping data within the European Union.

Success Blossoms in the Cloud

The cloud environment has coped well with the demands of the world’s largest flower auction. It has been handling between 15 million euros and 40 million euros in transactions every day for six months. And they’ve had no disruption at all. It gives Royal FloraHolland the freedom to concentrate on providing services that matter to their members and customers.

Want to know more about the combined power of SAP and AWS? Check out this link or watch our Catchy Story that we made at Connect to Innovate.