Glass provider shatters trope that companies must stick to core business. Smart thinking and cloud savvy unlock new revenue stream for Metro Performance Glass.

The idea that a company must stick to its core business doesn’t ring as true as it once did. With so much business value now embedded in software, cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure provide universally accessible delivery platforms to help ambitious businesses leverage existing software to reach new customers. Metro Performance Glass (MPG) shows what’s possible.

Metro Performance Glass (NZX: MPG) is at the forefront of high-performance glass manufacturing and supply in residential and commercial construction markets. Adapting to the pressures of COVD-19 restrictions and supply chain disruption, the company is undergoing a broad-based technology transformation to re-platform its business in the public cloud.

Metro Performance Glass undergoes agile development transformation

“The great thing about this project is that it opened our minds to how we can transform other parts of our business.”

Keith Glover

IT Manager, Metro Performance Glass

Kicking off the project, MPG engaged CCL to modernise the underlying architecture of its quoting system, Quote Tool. The move provided the opportunity to unhitch the application from on-premise infrastructure for redevelopment in Microsoft Azure – an outcome designed to add speed and flexibility to future product development. That job completed, reengineering Quote Tool as a service was on the table.

From internal software to subscription services

MPG again called on CCL to undertake the technical design and implementation of a solution that would transform Quote Tool into a SaaS solution. The idea was to ensure MPG had a sufficiently nimble platform to deploy new instances of the SaaS solution, as required.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and CI/CD processes were instrumental to this rapid development process. The approach also ensured bug fixes and feature updates were replicated in internal and customer environments quickly and reliably. The result? A modernised application which is highly scalable, security sharpened, and primed for on-demand deployment through automation.

Why ‘lift and shift’ falls short

Keith Glover, MPG’s IT Manager, was unequivocal in his aspiration for the cloud, highlighting the folly of a strategy based on simply lifting and shifting applications to Azure. “Sure, you get rid of hardware, but you’ve still got to have the right people to manage and support everything and deal with networks and security,” he said. “I want to re-platform our core applications so we can deliver them back to the business.”

This is where CCL does its best work. First up, CCL consultants conducted a design workshop to steer the design of a new tenancy and subscriptions for production and non-production environments in Azure.

Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) provided guidelines to configure each subscription and establish management constructs satisfying best practice governance and compliance. The project team used Terraform to codify supporting Azure infrastructure, effectively readying a pipeline to deploy infrastructure to new subscriptions in Azure.

CI/CD and IaC are defining features of MPG’s Azure environment. These combined processes trigger and manage a build and release process to deploy independent instances of Quote Tool in isolated environments. Embedded automation ensures each instance is created on-demand, providing a slick experience for external business customers as they onboard. Deeper down, CCL developers completed a host of other tasks, covering database configuration, access, security, and post migration verification.

First steps open mind to bigger possibilities

“The great thing about this project is that it opened our minds to how we can transform other parts of our business,” Glover said. With Azure guardrails in place and a robust CI/CD pipeline for continuous application deployment, MPG is gearing up for the next phase of its transformation.

Subsequent software deployments will reuse automation and infrastructure code libraries, replacing developer checklists with a push-button software development and release process. But more than simply establishing a working model to get the best from Azure, the project also upskilled Glover’s team.

“The knowledge transfer was hugely valuable,” Glover said, specifically calling out the quality of CCL’s as-built documentation. “It’s been one of the best projects with a vendor I’ve done in the long time. I’m really impressed, and our developers learnt a hell of a lot.”

MPG’s core business might be high performance glass, but in taking a broader view of its IP and the unlimited horizons of public cloud, the company has entered an entirely new market. Quote Tool as-a-Service is a modern-day corporate side hustle, some might say

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