“I set up Amryt in 2015 with my co-founder, Rory Nealon. We bought our first business in April 2016 and sort of inherited their IT system. In December 2016 we licensed our first commercial drug and built out a European commercial business, and by 2018 we were contemplating the acquisition of Aegerion, a much larger US company. We had a turnover of around $20 million and were about to become a global business with a turnover of $150 million. It was clear we needed a better IT solution to manage that integration.
We had to make a choice to either find an outside solution or try and build our own. I’d seen other companies try and roll out in-house IT from scratch, usually phenomenally expensive and a massive distraction from their core business, and I’d made the decision very early on that I didn’t want that for Amryt. So we asked a few Managed Service Providers to pitch to us. The decision to pick Nostra was fairly simple: they were able to explain what they could do for us in simple plain English, not in technical jargon.
There were worries about becoming cloud based. In our highly regulated industry, confidentiality is vital and there were some fears in this area, but I did some research and it seemed all the experts were saying the future is the cloud. From the start,
Nostra was responsive to any of our concerns, and everyone they put on our case was dedicated to us, so they weren’t distracted. And the account manager and everyone else were all just easy people to work with.
And it’s all been positive. We had bought Aegerion on the basis that we could make it profitable; we achieved that in two quarters by fairly tough cost reductions, and migrating Aegerion’s IT to the cloud was a major part of that. And the work Nostra has done has improved many areas of our business. You can’t always get the very best talent to come and work in Dublin, so my management team is based all over the place, and from the very start we’ve relied heavily on remote working. The cloud has helped make that much easier and far more secure. And a lot of our critical project work is multi- functional and cross-territorial, and would be virtually impossible without having something like SharePoint as a single repository for documents the whole team can access at any time.
To grow a business you have to find people you trust and delegate to them, but there’s zero point in doing that if you’re not going to empower them to do what they do. That’s my philosophy, and that’s what we’ve done with Nostra.
Amryt needed help to assess the best way of integrating Aegerion’s systems into the Amryt network. Nostra’s recommendation was that a radical approach to updating Amryt’s ICT infrastructure was needed. It identified four key challenges:
Updating legacy systems and creating a streamlined and unified infrastructure
The work in the US revealed that the acquisition would increase Amryt’s size by more than 10 times — Aegerion had over 80 legacy servers in four data centres across the US — and Amryt’s two-server infrastructure would not cope with such a massive expansion.
Rationalising and reducing the cost of the US data operation
Aegerion’s large array of outdated and poorly integrated servers was creating security concerns. It was also racking up huge running costs and had become an unsustainable drain on the US operation.
Amryt was concerned that its ICT security procedures were not keeping pace with its expansion. Its multi-regional footprint and wide remote-user base left it open to breaches and viruses. Like all companies, it was facing increasing threats from external cyber attacks, yet it only had a single firewall in its legacy infrastructure.
Moving Amryt’s ICT infrastructure to a secure cloud-first platform was clearly the most effective first step and promised other significant benefits, not least for multi-regional operations. Choosing Azure also allowed Amryt to utilise various Microsoft data-security products as well as SharePoint for file collaboration, built out for Amryt on a dedicated intranet.
Migrating Aegerion’s 80-plus servers ended the need for the precarious and expensive reliance on physical server management and maintenance. By decommissioning all four data centres and reducing the requirement to just 30 virtual servers, Amryt was able to radically improve efficiency and significantly reduce costs.
Centrally Managed Security
Nostra deployed Intune, the mobile-device management solution that provides total control over remote company devices such as laptops and phones, crucial with Amryt’s remote user base. It can now take on new staff anywhere in the world, and on-board them in a couple of days with a secure device prepared specifically for them. And it introduced a SIEM/SOC function to Amryt’s cloud network: a Security Information and Event Manager platform monitored by a Security Operations Centre. The SIEM provides an always-on monitoring system to block and analyse threats. The SOC element involves Nostra specialists using that analysis to develop additional mitigations to keep ahead of evolving threats.
Migrating Amryt to a secure cloud-first infrastructure streamlined much of its day-to-day operations and allows it to benefit from the latest developments in security and user interaction.
Enhanced management applications also makes mergers and acquisitions far simpler. In 2021, Amryt acquired and quickly integrated a second US company and, in January 2023, was itself acquired by the Italian company Chiesi. Amryt’s revitalised ICT infrastructure should make the initial relationship between the companies far simpler.
To ensure a smooth transition in such a complex project, Nostra provided dedicated teams of Azure networking professionals, including a senior engineer and a dedicated account manager, to work closely with Amryt at every stage. This has built a high level of trust between Amryt and Nostra, and provided the foundation for a positive ongoing relationship.
Nostra now manages and runs the entire Microsoft stack for Amryt, from helpdesk functions and end- user requirements to ongoing security and asset protection, and continues its SOC work. By breaking away from the traditional in-house IT function, Amryt can now call on the expert skills of over 200 ICT professionals, and can concentrate on its core business.