Optimal returns

Following a significant investment in infrastructure last year, Schneider Electric's IT team is working to gain maximum return on investment in 2009.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  February 2, 2009

Following a significant investment in infrastructure last year, Schneider Electric's IT team is working to gain maximum return on investment in 2009.

Schneider Electric is a truly global name. And in the Gulf, the company has worked to establish itself in a prominent position over the last few decades. With over ten offices across the region, and staff numbering in the hundreds, the company has over time developed an IT infrastructure to support its myriad activities.

"Historically, we had two datacentres. We used to have the headquarters in one location and we used to have a logistics platform in another location. So the applications related to logistics were installed in the logistics centre and the rest of the apps in the other centre," says Claudiu Iarca, Gulf MIS senior manager at Schneider Electric.

Virtualisation gives us agility. You can provision servers easily, you have less reliance on hardware and there is the factor of reduced cost. With virtualisation, you can do away with dedicated machines and optimise operations.

Recently, driven to improve efficiencies and productivity, the company decided to consolidate operations into a single datacentre.

"The consolidation was fuelled by all the benefits that the business could get out of it, including consistent information system governance, security, operational cost reduction, rationalisation and a more agile platform when providing solutions for changing or new business processes," points out Iarca.

Having decided on consolidation, the company took care to move on it in a phased manner, in order to reduce the risk and consequences of failure on a large scale.

"First, we implemented a SAN solution from EMC. This was followed by consolidation to one datacentre location. Then we did an ERP upgrade and implemented a Citrix solution.

Following this, we migrated to a few HP blade servers, which was a continuation of a project started in 2007. Then we moved this entire consolidated datacentre to our new location in Dubai Silicon Oasis. You can see we did it in several waves in order to obtain our objective, while eliminating risks and avoiding unscheduled downtime," says Iarca.

With the new datacentre, all apps are centralised, and offices across the region are able to access and perform necessary activities via this central resource. Applications that are accessed remotely include ERP modules, warehouse management system, reporting and some manufacturing configurations.

"When we decided to consolidate our datacentres, we realised that we would need consistent application access. The types of access that we had earlier were heterogeneous - Lotus Notes for specific applications, Microsoft's Terminal Services for ERP and OLAP access, and HTTP for reports.

We needed to unify access. Second, we wanted to reduce our dependence on bandwidth since it is expensive here. Third, we wanted to ease geographical constraints and gain flexibility in user's locations. And this is what the Citrix solution provided us with," says Iarca.

According to Iarca, the IT team always considers the maturity of a product when picking a solution for implementation, apart from several other factors, and this is what led them to select Citrix. Solutions Middle East, long term partner of Schneider in the Gulf, was selected for the deployment of the solution, which went live in October last year.

"The solution has already given us great ROI. We could not have expected more," states Iarca.

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