Community Blog How Can My Logistics Business Deliver in a Disrupted Market with the Cloud?

How Can My Logistics Business Deliver in a Disrupted Market with the Cloud?

This article showcases how logistics businesses are turning to the cloud to overcome a wave of challenges and position themselves for success.

Emerging from the pandemic, the global logistics sector is experiencing fresh challenges as conflict in Europe disrupts supply chains by imposing capacity constraints, forcing operators to re-route services and hampers the availability of oil products, grains and other important products.

Rising fuel costs and shortages of manpower are also disrupting the sector and forcing businesses to adapt without compromising service delivery.

However, e-commerce continues to surge, requiring intensive capacity management and planning and commitment under pressure to providing high quality customer experiences.

For logistics businesses, operating efficiently and cost-effectively has never been more important. Many businesses are turning to the cloud for the efficiencies and intelligence to thrive in this tumultuous marketplace.

Alibaba Cloud in particular is providing technologies, products and services that help a range of prominent logistics providers secure a competitive edge.


Scalability, a Powerful International Network and Access to Skilled Partners

Cost-effective scalability and a powerful, international network are critical to logistics businesses with dynamic operations across multiple countries and regions, while a vibrant partner ecosystem can unlock access to innovation and new capabilities. Singapore-based supply chain technology startup Trames provides a freight management platform that helps organizations of all sizes streamline their supply chain operations. The business undertakes strategic data management to improve operations, deliver cost efficiencies and support business decisions. As the business grew and expanded into the ASEAN market, it needed a strong partner to support advances into global markets and to help it scale prudently to avoid excessive investments in technology resources.

This meant working with an organization that had a global infrastructure, could support a hybrid cloud strategy and, to build on its growth in ASEAN and China, deliver specialized translation services in regional languages. Trames selected Alibaba Cloud for multiple reasons, including ease of deployment; the option to invest in infrastructure as the organization expanded rather than spend upfront; global infrastructure; and access to an ecosystem of skilled partners.

Furthermore, Trames’ Chief Technology Officer Alok Rajiv says, “The assurance of a high-performance network, for the foreseeable future, wherever our customers are located was very important to us in our deciding to work with Alibaba Cloud.”

Working with Alibaba Cloud gave Trames confidence in its ability to scale the business up quickly, easily and cost-effectively; provided comprehensive language support to enable continued expansion into the diverse ASEAN market; delivered high-end data protection with key management and cryptography services; and enabled the business to establish relationships with key Alibaba Cloud ecosystem partners.

Trames deployed Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) to power its hybrid cloud applications, based on the ability to spin up highly available resources in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the United States and Europe. Alibaba Cloud Machine Translation addressed Trames’ language requirements with generic and market-specific translations, including robust support for ASEAN languages like Vietnamese and Thai. This helped remove constraints on expanding into new geographies and countries and regions that speak different languages.

In addition, the Function Compute pay-as-you-go, event-driven compute service enabled Trames to scale cost-effectively, while Resource Orchestration Service (ROS) provided a fast, user-friendly infrastructure-as-code service that automated deployment and configuration of cloud resources in different accounts and regions. Finally, Key Management Service provided high-end protection for sensitive data that traversed Trames’ network.

“We were able to extend our offerings to more clients across the region much faster and easier without compromising security,” says Alok. The time and cost saved, has freed Trames to focus on business development and had a demonstrable, positive effect on revenue generation by shortening the sales cycle. “Alibaba Cloud’s strong support, coupled with its open, yet resilient infrastructure is a great fit for our technology teams, enabling our business to realize our growth potential in new and emerging markets,” adds Alok.

Trames is also reviewing products and services of Alibaba Cloud and its ecosystem partners to broaden its value proposition to customers. “As such, a partner like Alibaba Cloud is more than just a technology vendor to us, they are a strategic business enabler who is supporting our growth in many ways,” says Alok.

Connecting with China

Without a powerful network, logistics businesses risk losing customers that want to access lucrative international markets. For EWE Group (EWE), an Australian-owned multi-modal logistics service provider, connecting across borders and maintaining network performance was a key challenge when dealing with international clients, staff and branches.

The business was experiencing a reduced number of client orders due to the lack of connection from Australia into China, which would have impacted its growth plans. EWE reviewed several vendor offerings and settled on Cloud Enterprise Network from Alibaba Cloud, that provides a hybrid and distributed global network ideal for enterprise users with high demand on network coverage.

With its stable transmission and next-generation network environment, the network provides high transmission speed and low latency for end-users. Alibaba Cloud allows a dedicated network link for clients to connect internationally which negates any network issues when connecting into China and Asia Pacific. By facilitating communication from VPC to VPC and VPC to IDC so that routing information is learned and distributed automatically, Cloud Enterprise Network delivers faster routing convergence and improved network quality and security – meeting EWE’s requirements.

EWE also migrated a number of infrastructure workloads onto the Alibaba Cloud platform which allows the business to expand and increase requirements using an ‘as you grow’ model. This created a more elastic and agile environment for the IT part of the business and reduced the need for capital expenditure on hardware.


Containerization and Elasticity Drive Efficiency

Efficient application development and short software release cycles can help logistics businesses realize their potential. STO Express is a rapidly developing logistics company that can handle tens of millions of orders and track hundreds of millions of parcels on a daily basis, generating terabytes of data every day. STO Express deployed its core business applications in data centers and this met its needs during its early, rapid-development stages.

However, exponential growth and the increased diversification exposed problems – for example, a conventional IOE architecture was non-standard and unstable, resulting in low R&D efficiency and limiting the rapid development of business. In addition, software delivery periods were excessively long while resource requirements for large promotion activities could not be satisfied, and system stability could not be guaranteed.

STO Express selected Alibaba Cloud as its cloud migration partner, with the vendor’s cloud-native technology and architecture helping the logistics company shift its core business to the cloud. Fang Yao, Technical Owner of the cloud migration project, decided to embrace cloud-native and containerize all applications.

STO Express deployed Alibaba Cloud's Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK) and Container Registry (ACR) to achieve rapid business rollout as well as out-of-the-box reliability and elasticity. With the support of Alibaba Cloud, the STO Express team standardized application development and operations and management, while formulating a process in which application code is packaged into container images and deployed in Kubernetes clusters following standard procedures.

This avoided time-consuming manual releases and avoided faults caused by inconsistent cluster configurations. STO Express successfully transformed itself into a DevOps-driven company.

"Migration to the cloud is just the beginning, and the cloud is only an infrastructure," says Yao. "The technical architecture of STO Express will evolve towards the next-generation microservice architecture, service mesh, to improve the governance of complex systems."

Delivering Effective Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

In the competitive express delivery marketplace, service disruptions can have catastrophic reputational and financial consequences. PT Jalur Nugraha Ekakurir (JNE), which provides express delivery services in Indonesia and owns and operates over 6,000 service locations, was acutely conscious of the importance of reliability and customer experience when undertaking its digital transformation program. The business made a reliable disaster recovery system that could ensure the availability and continuity of business services a key priority during the project.

The system needed to ensure the organization could provide the fast delivery services and smart tracking its customers expected, without interruption. JNE also wanted an opex-based solution that could scale in minutes to support the dynamics of its business and its large customer base.

With a deep understanding of the importance of high availability to a seamless and stable customer experience, Alibaba Cloud was a natural choice for the business. Alibaba Cloud's disaster recovery products and solutions provided physical and logical redundancy to minimize disruption. In addition, Alibaba Cloud was a leading cloud service provider in the Asia Pacific with a strong foothold in the Indonesian market.

Alibaba Cloud provided JNE with a comprehensive disaster recovery solution that could fulfil all of the customer's requirements, based on core computing and network products. Elastic Compute Service (ECS) instances were used as the backbone of the disaster recovery solution, hosting the relevant applications as well as storing data using a system of block storage.

Elastic IP Address (EIP) enabled access to applications from remote sites while Server Load Balancer (SLB) ensured that services did not overload servers on the cloud. In addition to preventing potential downtime, the solution is highly scalable and also highly available, supporting the dynamics of JNE’s business at a lower cost than alternative options.

With Alibaba Cloud, logistics businesses can support multinational – and domestic – operations efficiently and effectively, expand into new markets and mitigate the impact of disruptive events.

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Iain Ferguson

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