Blue Link was founded in 1992 as a B2B Software (SW) company.
Their flagship product is Blue Link ERP: an all-in-one online accounting and inventory management system for wholesalers and distributors.
Their system covers a wide range of key business functions: from contact and client relationship management (CRM), to sales order entry, to inventory reordering and full G/L, A/P and A/R capabilities. Their system is in use across North America by customers from many different industries.
With a staff of nearly 50 people in their Toronto headquarters, Blue Link has been delivering software solutions to small and medium sized wholesale and distribution businesses for almost 30 years.
KEY TECHNOLOGIES USED
- Azure App Service
- Azure Sql Database
- Azure Devops Pipelines
- Azure Devops Repos
- .NET 5
- HTML 5
- CSS 3
- ADOBE XD
Ten years ago Blue Link developed a B2B Web Portal for their Blue Link ERP system.
It’s main feature was to allow Blue Link to customize the look-and-feel, and functions-and-features of their ERP system, for every new customer.
But unfortunately, this required a lot of custom code to be written in order to create a customized experience for each customer.
When they got to 50+ customers, the ongoing maintenance of all the different versions of this customized code become unmanageable. It was not scalable. It could have seriously hampered the company’s growth.
So Blue Link reached out to ObjectSharp to lead an App Modernization project for their B2B Web Portal. Their core ERP system had to continue to run as is, but the new Portal and API had to be able to run on Azure.
HOW WE HELPED OUR CLIENT
Blue Link asked ObjectSharp if there was any way to replace all their custom Portal code with a configuration-based solution.
This would allow BlueLink to easily change logos, the colours and look-and-feel of the screens, while also hiding or revealing different data fields and features for each customer. But most importantly, it had to run without requiring any changes to their underlying ERP system
So the ObjectSharp consultants designed a new Portal architecture based on a dynamic configuration system that would allow ALL Blue Link’s existing and new custom Portals to run off single code base.
“The new Portal application that ObjectSharp created for us has eliminated the huge bottleneck we had in onboarding new customers. It is a wonderful example of great SW engineering. We have learned a lot about Azure and modern SW development by working with the Sr. Consultants from ObjectSharp. And they have been great mentors to me and my Team,” Paulo Cera, Development Manager, Blue Link
Using Blazor and the PaaS-based development technologies from Microsoft, ObjectSharp built a new Azure-ready application that could generate custom Portals for each new customer. All Blue Link had to do was change configuration settings. There was no longer any custom code required to onboard a new customer.
And the new Portals were engineered to work with Blue Link’s proven ERP system.
The ObjectSharp consultants also set up new ‘pipelines’ and ‘repos’ using Azure DevOps, to automate and protect the configuration-to-production process for creating and modifying these new customer Portals.
As the final step in this App Modernization project, ObjectSharp performed a “lift-and-shift” of the existing ERP database to Azure SQL Database, and the API to Azure App Service. This showed Blue Link how they could eliminate the custom VMs that had been required to support their existing Portals, API and database.
ObjectSharp’s innovative solution for creating customized Portals allowed Blue Link to quickly onboard new customers, while preserving the years of development work that had gone into creating the core business logic in their ERP system.