Railcar pooling company TTX is undergoing its second digital transformation, the first of which saw it ditch its mainframe for x86 servers. Now, it’s heading for the cloud.
When Bruce Schinelli, CIO and vice president of IT, joined TTX in late 2006 most of its systems were mainframe-based. “We had a very small footprint in any other kind of environment,” he says. The following year, the company began rewriting its applications from the ground up, a process that took six years. “We were one of the few that actually completely exited the mainframe platform and didn’t just hide a bunch of the processes in the background,” he says.
Come 2017 and Schinelli was ready to map out the next major evolution of TTX’s IT strategy, a process that had him thinking in terms of business processes, not applications, ranking them on two axes, from commodity to unique and from highly critical to less critical: “It’s always critical to somebody, or you really ought not to be doing it,” he says.
Critical, unique processes such as the way TTX calculates revenue would need to be built in-house, but many other critical processes were ripe for software as a service. So Schinelli began looking for a cloud platform to replace its ERP — at the time, an on-premises SAP system — and supply chain, HCM, and planning tools. As several of these were reaching end of life, Schinelli decided to migrate everything at once, trading the flexibility of having multiple vendors for the agility of being able to develop rapidly in a single cloud.
TTX went through a long, rigorous evaluation, which involved most of the company. “Everybody got a say. Technology was a huge component, so we got to weigh in quite a bit, but we weren’t the leading voice,” he says.