An analysis carried out at Swissterminal showed that the central IT environment was no longer fulfilling requirements. There were three solutions to choose from: 1. Running everything inhouse. 2. Outsourcing the central IT infrastructure. 3. Full outsourcing. Swissterminal is today putting their faith in 360° infrastructure and is always a step ahead of their requirements.
Daily logistics processes means that IT plays a crucial role If the system fails, this could have dramatic consequences such as queues of trucks and delays in processing ships and trains. However, their IT was aging, demands had increased and so had concerns about secure operation. In 2011, the company registered the urgency and launched a vulnerability analysis of its central IT systems, with Bechtle recording and analysing the results in a package of measures.
Necessary to urgent need for action The SWOT analysis showed that the majority of areas mentioned required action. In short, the central IT environment needed to be completely updated. An external independent ICT consultant was brought on board for strategy development and to support in the decision making process. “We had three options to choose from”, says Hansjörg Halter, Head of Projects & IT, Swissterminal. “The first was to run everything inhouse, the second to outsource the infrastructure and the third to outsource everything, including the software. Although at that time we had planned to have our own data centre, we had a look at our books again,” recalls Halter: “We considered the inhouse solution and decided that, as a family company, we had to concentrate on our core business. We rely heavily on an IT infrastructure that’s always at the cutting edge.” The decision resulted in a call to tender and the implementation of the second option with Bechtle: Outsourcing the infrastructure.
We considered the inhouse solution and decided that, as a family company, we had to concentrate on our core business. We rely heavily on an IT infrastructure that’s always at the cutting edge.
Hansjörg Halter, Head of Projects & IT, Swissterminal
Halter can list a number of benefits of collaborating with an external IT service provider: “We wanted predictability, quality, stability and performance. Predictability was critical for both the IT infrastructure and costs. We know what we have to pay today which means we have security. In the past, It was a lucky dip with unforeseen costs that weren’t always transparent.” Optimum support and quality also played a role in the decision to hand over the IT infrastructure. “At first glance, it doesn’t seem like we are saving any money with IaaS”, says Hansjörg Halter. “But when you consider the performance of the new infrastructure as well as the support, and you begin viewing reliability and system stability as quality factors, then the benefits are clear as day.” That’s why Hansjörg Halter sets particular store in stability and performance: “The system cannot let us down. That would be completely unacceptable. In the past, we were permanently faced with end-of-life challenges, but today, thanks to the outsourced central IT infrastructure, we are always one step ahead.” This has meant that productivity has been dramatically boosted. Swissterminal has purchased a monitoring contract which means that Bechtle always has an eye on the infrastructure, proactively deals with issues and reacts according to contractually-defined policies before the customer recognises any drops in performance or stability.
Business software runs on an IaaS solution. With Swissterminal’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution, Bechtle provisions the hardware and virtualisation platform and ensures smooth operation. Swissterminal maintains the software (virtual machines) themselves which consists of dedicated components such as malware protection and the Barracuda spam firewall on a Windows server. Accounting and HR software plus the Terminal Operating System and logistics software are all run by Swissterminal itself.
“We have direct contact with the providers of our business-relevant software and work together to develop them further”, says Hansjörg Halter. Due to this and because the software always has to be kept up-to-date, the decision was made to have direct control over industry software including support rather than completely outsource it.
Security and availability:
With the decision to employ IaaS in the future, the idea to have a company-own data centre was abandoned and all data are now saved in Bechtle’s data centre in Colobâle Pratteln. “The migration to Colobâle was an unmitigated success carried out over one weekend”, says Hansjörg Halter. “We only had one requirement: no downtime. Thankfully, we never reached this point thanks to Bechtle’s excellent planning. We were even able to start testing earlier than expected.”
There is only one person responsible for the some 70 IT workstations who manages support ticket and provides first level support. At the quarterly meetings, the last quarter’s operation particularly regarding availability, infrastructure, pending issues and various statistics are discussed and any measures defined. This means that management are always informed about the status and costs of their IT.