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Technical Case Study

Mutual Materials uses OCI to meet a 30% increase in demand

February 3, 2022 | 6 minute read


Mutual Materials is a manufacturer of building bricks, blocks, pavers, and stone slabs. Founded in Seattle in 1900 as Builders Brick Company, it has since grown, adapted, and changed names, but it has always kept the legacy of a local family-owned business. Now the largest supplier of masonry and hardscape products in the Pacific Northwest, Mutual Materials employs over 400 people and has manufacturing facilities in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

As the demand in hardscape sales skyrocketed, the company needed a faster and more reliable way to process orders, increase production, and ship its finished products to customers. Key to addressing demand was the creation of a more efficient process for communicating product inventory and availability to customers, especially those working in the field. As part of this process transformation, Mutual Materials envisioned a self-service environment for receiving and fulfilling customer orders that would coordinate supply and demand across 11 manufacturing sites, two mining sites, and 18 locations.

A move to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) allowed Mutual Materials to lift and shift existing IT infrastructure to the cloud and see an immediate 20% increase in speed. The move to the cloud also allowed Mutual Materials to scale and grow to meet the 30% increase in overall business demand.

Figure 1: Mutual Materials demonstrates its mission of creating beauty that lasts

Goals for moving to the cloud

The company needed a way to scale its infrastructure to meet the increased demand and coordinate the complexities of a modern business. To handle transaction processing and new business, Mutual Materials turned to OCI to reduce costs and enhance performance as it migrated on-premises applications to OCI.

The company partnered with Dallas-based technology consulting company, Doyensys, which specializes in application and database deployments, migrations, and managed services. This partnership enabled a rapid lift-and-shift of legacy systems into the cloud and the implementation of a scalable IT solution.

The suite of Oracle products used

  • Oracle Cloud Infrastructure includes all the services needed to migrate, build, and run IT in the cloud—from existing enterprise workloads to new cloud native applications and data platforms.
  • OCI virtual machines provide secure and elastic compute capacity in the cloud for workloads ranging from small development projects to large-scale global applications.
  • Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) is an Oracle-managed container orchestration service that reduces the time and cost to build modern cloud native applications.
  • Virtual cloud networks (VCNs) provide customizable and private cloud networks on OCI. Like a traditional data center network, the VCN provides complete control over a cloud networking environment.
  • Dynamic routing gateways (DRGs) provide a path for private network traffic between a VCN and a network outside the region. This traffic can pass between a VCN in another OCI region, an on-premises network, or a network in another cloud provider.
  • OCI Load Balancing service provides automated traffic distribution from a single-entry point to multiple servers on the backend.
  • Oracle Block Volume service is a detachable block storage device that allows dynamic expansion of the storage capacity of Compute instances without losing data.
  • Oracle Data Guard provides a comprehensive set of services that create, maintain, manage, and monitor one or more standby databases to enable production and allow Oracle databases to remain available without interruption.
  • Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) is a robust collection of applications helping enterprises run key business operations. It includes applications designed for order management, logistics, procurement, project management, manufacturing, lifecycle management, operation services, financials, and human capital management.
  • Oracle Customer Experience (CX) connects all business data across advertising, marketing, sales, commerce, and services. CX’s suite of applications goes beyond a traditional customer relationship management to create, manage, serve, and nurture lasting customer relationships.
  • Oracle Transportation Management manages all transportation activities in global supply chains. It runs logistic operations more efficiently, reduces freight costs, and optimizes service levels.

Technical implementation

The implementation partner Doyensys began work by selecting a region with multiple availability domains, which included OCI VCNs, Compute shapes, public and private load balancers, block volumes, Oracle Data Guard, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and audit logs. They created a VCN as the foundation to house all network components. All services and applications are accessed through a DRG, which routes users and uses an IPSec VPN connection to ensure security.

All public communication is routed to the production compartment in availability domain 1. Administrators with proper access permissions can access disaster recovery or non-production compartments. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) products Oracle Solution Center and Oracle Transportation Management are accessed using the internet gateway but routed outside the VCN to a native Oracle Cloud application server.

A separate public load balancer connected to the internet gateway routes traffic to both production and non-production fault domains. Within the production environment, Doyensys created three subnets across two availability domains to ensure high availability and redundancy.

Availability domain 1 includes two subnets: One containing the production applications and the other containing the production database. Both are paired with a block storage instance.

Availability domain 2 contains the non-production environment, mirroring the production fault domain: Load balancers, fault domains, and block storage instances. This environment allows system admins to test deployments before deploying services to the production environment.

If catastrophic failure occurs, availability domain 3 contains a compartment housing a recovery database, applications, and block storage. Connected to the production compartment with Data Guard, this design ensures data synchronization and rapid recovery.

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Figure 2: Technical architecture for Mutual Materials implementation on OCI

The results

The move to OCI gave Mutual Materials’ applications an immediate 15–20% boost in speed. An increase in speed and efficiencies improved operational efficiencies, helping drive up average order sizes. This combination led to an increase of year-over-year sales by nearly 20%. By running business applications and databases on virtual machines replicated across multiple fault domains, Mutual Materials has experienced zero downtime, despite the 30% jump in orders.

The success in operational efficiency, productivity, and lower costs was the catalyst to move almost all hosted applications from on-premises to OCI. The migration of Oracle Transportation Management and EBS resulted in increased stability, processing time, and lower overall costs. The Transportation Management migration yielded increased fleet utilization, reduced expenses, a better relationship with customers and distribution partners, and allowed virtually infinite scalability. Oracle CX adoption allowed their customers to self-serve, buy online, and benefit from a highly personalized shopping experience. The incorporation of customer-specific pricing models—pre-negotiated, job-specific, or public pricing—improved the customer experience and improve operational efficiencies.

“When we went live on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, frankly, we were not expecting the 15% to 20% faster performance that we saw,” said Guy DeFlorio, CTO of Mutual Materials.

Next steps

Mutual Materials continues to focus on growth through increased sales, acquisitions, and new products. Where business growth was previously complicated by IT infrastructure logistics, OCI allows the company to scale quickly, seamlessly adding new manufacturing facilities, offices, and product lines to the platform. Confident in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s ability to scale and meet demand, Mutual Materials can continue to build beauty that lasts across communities throughout the US and Canada.

Explore the Mutual Materials’ story in our customer success stories or dig deeper into the cloud architecture at Built & Deployed.

By Andrew Hahn,
Product Marketing Manager focused on privacy & cloud computing

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