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Two-a-Day experiences juicy benefits from SLES

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A leading supplier of fruit produce in the African market, Two-a-Day recently migrated to the Novell SuSe Linux Enterprise Server platform, enabling huge time savings for the company while ensuring that its ERP system and other critical applications are based on a stable and secure operating system environment.

Two-a-Day grows, packages and markets its agricultural products, controlling the entire supply chain from the soil to store shelves. The company relies on a stable ERP system to do this and also makes use of specialised, vertical-market solutions for product tracking and supply-chain management.
Two-a-Day is dependent on the Sage financial application for running its business systems, along with Paltrack RF – a software package that utilises radio frequency network technology and database software for product tracking.
But the company was running old versions of these solutions on a SCO Unix platform. With concerns about ongoing support for SCO Unix and Two-a-Day’s need to stay up to date with the latest versions of their core applications, it became necessary to seek out a new operating system platform.
Two-a-Day faced the eventuality of upgrading its financial system from Sage CS/3 to Sage Line 500 and sought out a solution that would offer it the type of reliability it was used to assuring its customers. Two-a-Day also required that the Paltrack RF application the company uses for product tracking within its facilities be migrated to Linux at some stage in the future.
Chris Petzer, IT manager at Two-a-Day, comments: “With the solution we were replacing, we had yielded the kind of uptime of which many of our peers would have been particularly envious.
“The solution had one small problem,” he continues, “in that it was running on SCO Unix – a platform we chose because of its stability. Very little information was available from SCO itself on the future direction of the platform and Sage had announced that support for their ERP System on a SCO Unix platform would cease in the coming year.”
Petzer says that the closest match to SCO Unix in terms of compatibility, stability and reputation was Linux, and Two-a-Day chose to use SuSe Linux Enterprise Server going forward.
“SLES offers the stability and reliability the company required for the system, along with additional functionality that it was eager to get its hands on,” adds Petzer. “The developers of Paltrack RF also list SLES as their preferred Linux platform.”
Two-a-Day would be the first company in South Africa to move to Sage Line 500 running on a Linux system, and thus required careful planning for the rollout of SLES in order to preserve the functionality of the organisation’s ERP server.
“We also housed a handful of bespoke-developed applications, some which were dependent on Informix on the original SCO server. We needed to ensure that those would easily work on the new solution, with nothing more than a binary compile,” explains Petzer.
He says that one of the chosen implementation partners for the migration, Clarotech, were instrumental in assisting with the migration of these applications to SLES. Clarotech were also able to move the functionality of the Xitext application that Two-a-Day uses for print management across to CUPS, the Linux-based print server package.
The actual migration process of the ERP system from SCO Unix to the new SLES environment entailed exporting all live and historic data from the old environment to the new one, importing it into the new database and finally upgrading the data structures to be compatible with Sage Line 500. This was achieved with no work interruption or downtime.
With Sage Line 500 running smoothly, the Paltrack RF application and data was then migrated to the SLES environment by its Cape-based developers, Paltrack, working together with Clarotech. The migration of this mission-critical application also proceeded according to plan with zero downtime.
Overall, Petzer says the company is extremely happy with the new solution, which not only offers the same level of stability and reliability as what the company had before, but cost savings and performance increases too.
“While we are convinced we did save money in the long run and seriously improved the overall performance of the solution, right now we are unable to place exact measurables on these, since we are still in the process of doing those exercises,” he says.
Looking forward, Petzer says that he’s convinced his company will continue down the Linux route. “We are just not going to embark on a roll-over to Linux for the sake of doing so. Currently, the proprietary Microsoft footprint in our organisation is quite substantial and stable. The only real reason we would currently want to move across to Linux and open source at this stage, would be gaining access to additional functionality.”
By switching to SLES, Two-a-Day has retained the high level of effectiveness for which it is known in the market while gaining time savings and the extra security and stability offered by the SuSe Linux Enterprise Server platform.