A leading company in the manufacture and sale of generic medications, Sawai Pharmaceutical has been providing patient and medical care in Japan for more than half a century. In April 2021, the company transitioned to a holding company structure and embarked on a new journey as Sawai Group Holdings. As part of its digital transformation efforts, the company adopted VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth formerly CloudHealth by VMware and VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds formerly CloudHealth Secure State as a foundation for ensuring proper cost management and security monitoring in using the cloud computing technologies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), leading to a 10 percent reduction in costs as well as secure operations, with the goal of achieving a 26 percent reduction in the future.

Accelerating the shift of IT infrastructure to the cloud

After transitioning into a holding company structure in 2021, Sawai Group has been actively shifting its IT infrastructure to the cloud, with the aim of developing an IT organization that can better support the Group’s digital transformation strategy, while flexibly responding to challenges in the business environment and reducing the burden of operating and managing its IT infrastructure.

The migration of its previously on-premises system onto AWS began in earnest in 2015. Today, almost of all the company’s business systems, including those that have been newly developed, run on AWS. Its AWS operations are outsourced to partners, but as the scope of use expands, the IT department needs to be able to monitor the overall cost of the cloud environment and understand potential security risks in real-time, and in greater detail.

This is even more important as Sawai experiments with cloud services from other vendors, such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for some of its in-house applications, for instance, data analysis.

Cost optimization and security as joint priorities

Sawai Group implemented VMware Aria Cost primarily for cost management and VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds for security monitoring to perform cross-operational management of a multi-cloud environment that is centered on AWS.

The Group’s interest in the solution was piqued after a simulated implementation of Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth estimated that they could reduce approximately 900,000 Japanese Yen per month, by simply removing unused capacity.

“Our cloud partners were mindful of the need to operate in the cloud at a reasonable cost, but with cloud features and pricing plans evolving quickly, and given the specific nature of our own usage, there were times when manual monitoring wasn’t able to keep up. If there was a way to further reduce infrastructure costs by using tools that would help us understand and address these issues ourselves, we decided it was worth trying immediately,” says Mr. Koji Takeda, general manager, Group Information Technology Department, Sawai Group Holdings Co., Ltd.

As for security, the company needed a comprehensive, real-time system that could monitor and respond to the overall situation, especially as the scope of its cloud computing use cases expanded.
Previously, it was difficult and time-consuming for the Group IT Department to become aware of unplanned configuration and authorization changes made by operational partners and system personnel. However, with notifications from Aria Cost and Aria Automation for Secure Clouds, the company learns about these changes in real time and can take appropriate actions to rectify them, such as deleting accounts or changing privileges. This has given the team a greater peace of mind.

A strong cloud foundation for the future

Having been impressed by the VMware solutions that enabled cloud visibility, cost management and security monitoring, Sawai plans to scale up its use of these solutions, especially as its environments across multiple vendors grow in size and complexity.

There are also plans to give more autonomy to the owners of each cloud application, so that they can procure cloud resources as required, and have control over the costs incurred for their applications. This will relieve some of the burden on the infrastructure manager, who is currently the main person responsible for the Group’s cloud-based systems.

“The challenges we faced in using the cloud were visualizing the overall costs and security status, and creating a system that was easy to understand and manage, but these seemed difficult to achieve from both a technical and cost perspective. VMware solutions have helped us tackle these challenges quickly and costeffectively. We’ll continue to strive to lower costs and increase security as our cloud utilization expands in scope, and look foward to continued operational support from VMware, enabling us to take full advantage of these tools,” says Mr. Takeda.

Sawai Group Holdings Co. Ltd was established in 2021 as a holding company that corporatizes seven companies operating in Japan and the United States, including Sawai Pharmaceuticals. The company develops generic drug and healthcare products based on the Group’s philosophy of always putting healthier lives first.
Strategic Priorities
Cloud Infrastructure
VMware footprint
  • VMware® Aria Cost™ powered by CloudHealth®
  • VMware Aria Automation™ for Secure Clouds
We decided we needed a system that would allow us to monitor and manager the situation across the board as we seek to move toward a multi-cloud system.
Mr. Toshiyuki Nishikawa, Leader, Group Information Technology Department, Sawai Group Holdings Co., Ltd.
In the past, we only learned about unexpected cost changes through invoices from our operating partners which arrive about two months later, but now we find out about them a lot more quickly, via Aria Cost notifications. Also, Aria Automation for Secure Clouds notifies us as soon as problematic security situation arises. People often talk about ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ types of DX, but you can only carry out a bold offensive if you have the right defences in place. Aria Automation for Secure Clouds helps us eliminate careless mistakes in relation to security and further strengthen our defenses.
Mr. Koji Takeda, General Manager, Group Information Technology Department, Sawai Group Holdings Co., Ltd.