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Sustainability is a key topic for sport shoe manufacturer LOWA – not just when it comes to the production of their climbing boots and outdoor shoes, but in all aspects of the company’s work. When it came to refurbishing their storage and server infrastructure, it was therefore important that Konica Minolta, as a reliable partner, was able to work with LOWA to develop and implement a sustainable, future-proof concept.
After using the productive IT environment at LOWA’s headquarters in Jetzendorf (near Munich) for five years, it needed to be refurbished. The company required mirrored storage and server systems that needed to be located in different fire areas. In the event that a system or entire fire area failed, this solution should automatically guarantee that applications would continue to run uninterrupted.
Christian Stöcker, a system administrator at LOWA Sportschuhe, described his most important requirements as follows: “One essential aim was to improve our fail-safe reliability as a whole in order to minimise potential downtime. Additionally, we wanted to increase our storage capacity and improve our performance – this will enable us to implement new projects.” The first point of order was to migrate most of the company’s 40 or so virtual machines (VMs) from Microsoft Windows Server 2008 to Microsoft Windows Server 2016. At the same time, it was important to create enough resources for a Linux-based ERP and CRM system, as well as a B2B shop connection. The plan included migration to Office 365 and Exchange Online for end users.
Once tenders for the planned project began to arrive, Konica Minolta’s account manager for print systems, who has been working successfully with LOWA for a number of years, recommended that his colleagues in the IT department also made an offer. “Their offer consisted of an appropriate technical solution that we developed together; it completely fulfilled all of the requirements that we set out,” says Stöcker. The price-performance ratio also suited LOWA’s plans, although as the system administrator emphasises, one of LOWA’s key company policies is to accept the best offer, not the cheapest one. Key criteria in the decision-making process included the potential to foster a good personal relationship, as well as excellent qualitative and quantitative support.
After a short yet productive bidding phase, installation began. A mere month later, the virtual machines were migrated and refurbished, ready for the introduction of Office 365 and the completion of the project in the following month. The company has approximately 110 IT users, who were unaffected by the project implementation at first. “Most work could be carried out during normal operations. Where this was not possible, the necessary work was done during the evening or at the weekend. After completion, our users’ response was extremely positive thanks to considerable improvements in stability, performance and user-friendliness,” reports Christian Stöcker. In his opinion, stability, performance, “the simple availability of all the resources we could possibly need” and “the least possible downtime” are the most significant benefits. Nothing hampers productivity more than a lack of resources or inadequate performance.
Furthermore, the company’s demand for sustainability could be met in a number of ways – for instance, the hardware currently in use was repurposed as a backup.
Since LOWA’s IT department has a streamlined personnel structure, the company is using Konica Minolta’s SMART Managed Services for their entire implemented infrastructure and hardware, in order to reduce the department’s workload in normal operations and to prevent malfunctions or even system failures. These services include monitoring, patch management, backup services, antivirus services and first-and second-level support. Stöcker and his colleagues were informed of any abnormalities or possible disruptions in good time; as a result, these could be rectified quickly in the background, eliminating downtime as far as possible. “So far, this service has proven to be invaluable – I can certainly sleep easier now!” says Stöcker with relief. In his opinion, working together with Konica Minolta was consistently impressive, professional and seamless.
At LOWA, there are already concrete plans for new projects when it comes to desktop virtualisation. Among other benefits, this is intended to further improve the company’s energy balance, continuing their trend towards increased sustainability.