Suntory Group operates globally, offering a uniquely diverse portfolio of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Find out how Suntory prepared itself to meet growing business needs by deploying future-ready IT infrastructure on a hybrid-cloud platform that gives it greater business agility.
Year of business launch: 1899
Streamlining IT to Take Full Advantage of Synergies Born from Mergers And Acquisitions
True to its corporate philosophy, “To create harmony with people and nature”, the Suntory Group strives to enrich people’s lives by offering customers the highest quality products and services, while ensuring it contributes to the realization of the sustainable world that values coexistence with diverse communities and natural environments. For over 120 years, the company has actively sought uncharted terri tory in terms of innovating and endeavoring to realize a vibrant society full of life. This stems from the group's bold spirit of Yatte Minahare (dream big, take challenges, and never give up), a guiding ethos passed down since its foundation.
The Suntory group has accelerated the expansion of its global business through strategic mergers and acquisitions, such as the 2014 acquisition of Beam Inc., a leading distilled beverages manufacturer in the US.
At present, the Group has some 300 related companies in five regions around the globe, i.e., Asia, Oceania, the US, Europe and Japan. With the growth of its geographic footprint, the Suntory Group felt the need to capitalize on synergies at global level by consolidating and managing the IT infrastructure across all of its enterprises. Prior to this, the group’s IT infrastructure had been largely developed and managed independently by each region, operating on divergent platforms that limited the potential for intra-group synergy. Further, operating systems were also deployed and administered individually by the respective companies.
“Following more than a decade of global expansion driven largely through merger and acquisition, the need to address standardization and optimization of IT infrastructure was a pressing issue in order to drive synergistic effect across the business,” says Takumi Jogo, senior general manager of the IT Strategy Depar tment, Digital Transformation Division at Suntory Holdings Limited. “To tackle this issue, starting in 2016 we held multiple discussions with CIOs from each group company. As a result, we decided to start endeavors with consolidation of our data centers, as it was the easiest place to start from a business perspective. In October 2017, we held a conference in Tokyo, pulling together our CIOs from each group company to discuss and determine overall direction of the group's transformation to a nextgeneration IT infrastructure at the global level.”
Thus, Suntory embarked on consolidation of its global IT infrastructure. The “Suntory Island 2 (SI2)” project kicked off in April 2018, with the aim of achieving a globally standardized, next generation IT core.
Suntory World Headquarters
Next-Gen IT-Infrastructure Transformation to Drive Suntory Group’s DX Aspirations
As the project progressed, significant changes arose in Suntory Group’s business environment, calling for an acceleration in its digital transformation (DX) initiatives across various fields. In order to consolidate and optimize operations it became essential to standardize its core platform and move to an integrated operations model, thus making the SI2 project all the more important. “We initially started the SI2 project on a defensive mode, but in order to meet the ever increasing IT demands, we switched to a more aggressive mindset, creating an agile and flexible IT infrastructure capable of supporting the Suntory Group’s future DX initiatives,” says Mr. Jogo. “In order to achieve this, we of course had to adopt a cloud-based solution. Moreover, we adopted a hybridcloud solution comprising of scalable publiccloud and flexible private-cloud, which was key to fulfilling our needs.”
In addition, “We were determined to consolidate and standardize operations at a global level, rather than at a regional level, by establishing a Center of Excellence where our trusted partners can manage global operation of the SI2 platform on a 24x7 basis.” (Mr. Jogo)
In order to drive the project to success, greatest priority was given to reaching consensus amongst all group companies. Suntor y Group holds a biannual CIO conference, where issues and ideas are discussed thoroughly until consensus can be reached. The respective group CIOs banded together under a “One Suntory” mantra to get things done. Expectations from executive management for the SI2 project were high, too, and the team were expected to report regularly on progress.
Yoshihiko Kato was in charge of the SI2 project in Japan, considered to be the largest scale portion of the project. Mr. Kato is a director and the senior general manager of the IT Infrastructure Service Department at Suntory System Technology Limited, a company that is responsible for the Suntory Group’s IT functions. He says, “Naturally we had to meet the goals agreed to with the group companies without compromise. At the same time we had to minimize downtime during migration, and ensure stability to critical business applications post-migration, such as ordering, manufacturing and shipping applications. We racked our brains to come up with the best approach to migration for reducing downtime, and the best architecture to enable stable operations post-migration.”
Tomoki Koyama, General Manager, IT Infrastructure Service Department, Suntory System Technology Limited, who played key frontline role of the project in Japan said "During the course of the project, we faced challenges and collectively overcame them with focus on agility, and ensuring mistakes were not repeated. Further, given the sheer volume of the migration, great care was taken to ensure members were not needlessly overloaded."
Project members of Suntory Group (front row) and TCS
*Photographs were taken with due consideration to prevent the infection and spread of COVID-19. Subjects in the photographs only took off their masks for a short time while pictures were being taken.
Debating the Ideal State for High-Level Global Operations
Suntor y Holdings Limi ted adopted painstakingly careful measures in selecting a partner. After multiple discussions with several vendors, the company decided to entrust this vital task to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). In addition to its proven track record in providing global support for the IT infrastructure of Beam Suntory Inc., TCS’ global capabilities were also recognized in its selection as strategic partner for the SI2 project.
“At first, we felt some gaps in Suntory Japan’s way of operation and that proposed by TCS using its global experience,” says Mr. Kato. “It took quite some time for the reconciliation, but TCS’ efforts in presenting the global way of operation and its merits definitely benefited the project subsequently.”
Reflecting back, Mr. Koyama stated, “ Through the countless face to face discussions with TCS’ members, it became clear to us that each and every last one of them were dedicated to getting the project delivered on schedule. We deeply appreciate this attitude, demonstrated by TCS’ management and each of its members
associated with the project. ”
This was a very large project for Suntory, involving more than 200 members from the Suntory Group in Japan, and more than 100 from its overseas group companies. TCS and Tata Consultancy Services Japan (TCS Japan) supported the project as a strategic partner by leveraging our global know-how and expertise.
“One Cloud” Orchestrated with TCS Enterprise Cloud Platform
Salient Features of “One Cloud” Orchestrated with TCS Enterprise Cloud
- “Cloud in Cloud model”, wherein 6 companies would run on the platform with common SLAs
- 24/7 Global Command Center – “Follow the sun” model support
- TCS Alpha platform (hybrid cloud management) with unified monitoring and service management
Meeting Business Needs with an Evolving IT Infrastructure
Suntory Holdings Limited and TCS jointly conducted assessment at each subsidiary as part of execution planning phase, to finalize the onboarding of subsidiaries to the SI2 platform. TCS built foundation of the SI2 platform, adopting a hybrid multicloud solution powered by TCS’ Enterprise Cloud Platform (ECP). This made it possible to meet the customer’s growing business needs, achieved the aim of infrastructure standardizat ion, and enabled global operation by single partner (TCS). In August 2020, the first phase of migration in Japan was completed, and global operation of SI2 platform started. Further, in January 2021, TCS successfully completed the migration of Beam Suntory Inc. leveraging the knowhow it acquired through the project in Japan. In spite of the COVID-19 situation, migration went forward smoothly. The SI2 project has definitely helped Suntory to realize its vision of “One Suntory”. The group will continue its migration in remaining regions, and plans to finish them by 2022.
“In the future, we are looking to capitalize on modern application development, which is garnering much attention these days, to adopt microservices and build an architecture where the data is collaborated on more smoothly,” says Mr. Koyama as he shares their goals for the future. “We are committed to further enhancements so that we can confidently say that the foundation is ready for future DX initiatives of the Suntory Group.”
Speaking about their future ambitions, Mr. Kato says, “We would like to take this global SI2 platform to a level beyond anyone’s imagination. With the help of TCS, we will explore new technologies and methods of operation, and deepen our understanding of their digital solutions and expertise in order to achieve the global DX aspirations of the Suntory Group.”
“Currently, aside from the field of IT infrastructure, the Suntory Group has seen an increasing number of projects in the field of systems and applications that run on infrastructures. For example, the organization of operations on a global basis, and the rolling out of multinational projects,” says Mr. Jogo. “In fact, the purpose of our project this time was to help achieve these more smoothly. Leveraging the foundation that the SI2 platform provides, we will achieve new business needs that simply didn’t exist before. I have consistently told our management that this project is going to be the foundation of the Suntory Group’s ever-evolving IT infrastructure needs, so we look forward to the continued support of TCS as our trusted strategic partner.”
This SI2 project was selected as one of the top 10 projects in the Suntory Group’s internal awards in 2020, out of hundreds of projects nominated. According to the Suntory Group, products that are successful in the market are chosen in most cases for this award, and it is extremely rare for this kind of project to be recognized. This shows the group's high expectations toward the project. TCS and TCS Japan will continue to support this important project, leveraging our global expertise and technological strengths.
Message from Global CIO of Suntory
I really appreciate TCS team’s effort and support for Suntory Island 2 project. We could finish this huge migration project in Japan as planned, despite the difficult situation due to COVID-19. Without TCS contribution, it would have not been possible.
Appreciate TCS Leadership and team’s continuous strong suppor t and contr ibution to the projects. I am looking forward to celebrating the next milestone with TCS.
Senior General Manager,
Director, Senior General Manager,
* The contents are as of June 2021.
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