Virtualisation project saves millions

Wednesday, 14 April, 2010

From its humble beginnings in 1948, Kennards Hire is now an all-Australian, family owned construction hire business with more than 90 branches across the country, managing more than 400 individual tools and pieces of equipment through its online hiring service. After working with Frontline to consolidate its infrastructure through virtualisation and new ERP software, Kennards estimated a cashflow saving of $6 million over the next 5 years.

Over the years, Kennards built up many legacy systems that ran independently of each other. This was not just limited to ERP systems, but also individual application servers, as well as accounting and CRM systems.

“We were working on a disparate bunch of technologies. A mix of Linux and Microsoft desktops was used depending on which Kennards branch you were at, while our back office systems ran on a variety of DB2 and MySQL database flavours,” said Richard Fox-Smith, IT Manager, Kennards Hire. “To say that it was a complicated arrangement would probably be an understatement!”

Fox-Smith and his team took stock of the ongoing dilemma and began to develop a consolidated, robust platform that was workable for Kennards’ geographically dispersed offices. Kennards engaged Frontline Systems to review its existing ERP system and to implement a new system.

“Frontline had a very holistic view of the problem and advised us on auditing the existing environment before implementing any new systems in case they could not be supported,” said Fox-Smith.

The audit revealed a heterogeneous platform that was both difficult to manage and support. A thorough consolidation was implemented and as a result, a centralised server was created to reside in an enterprise-level data centre. Frontline also deployed Citrix XenServer, which resulted in a reliable virtualised platform that Kennards could migrate its incumbent applications and server functions onto. This also allowed Frontline to deploy new ERP software that replaced both back office and front counter point-of-sale functions.

Three hundred HP thin clients running Citrix XenApp are spread across all Kennards branches replacing older Linux machines. As Kennards expands, the company will be able to deploy client terminals at new branches much more quickly than before.

“The implementation of HP thin clients has significantly decreased our ongoing running costs of existing front counter applications, which used to reside on physical servers in each branch,” says Fox-Smith. “To put this into perspective, the Linux machines cost about $720, while the HP terminals were priced at $550.

“Frontline has helped us to significantly reduce our hardware and software maintenance costs, especially in geographically dispersed offices. The new, virtualised front-counter application has put the focus back to customer service, instead of dealing with IT issues.”

Accounts and finance staff sitting in the back office can now also see transaction records and customer information in real time. Previously, front and back offices were separate information silos. Meanwhile, silos of information that sat in DB2 and MySQL databases - which required different skill sets to administer and support - now reside in consolidated, virtualised data stacks.

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