Here’s an extract from a just-published case study on wine importer and distributor Liberty Wines. The company wanted to speed up business processes to improve the way they met the needs of customers in the fast-paced world of fine dining. Updating its existing IT infrastructure was an important part of this plan.
Recipient of multiple international wine awards - including the International Wine Challenge On Trade Supplier of the Year for two years running - Liberty Wines is one of the UK's foremost wine importers and distributors. The wholesale distributor provides wines to top London restaurants, supermarkets, and independent wholesalers and retailers. Founded in March 1997 by Master of Wine David Gleave, the business has grown to represent more than 900 lines. The central London-based company specialises in Italian wines, but also buys and sells products from high-profile producers and niche wineries all over the world, as well as producing a number of its own brands. Tom Brown, IT Manager at Liberty Wines, says: “Our search for quality drives our choice of producers. We’ll only carry a wine if it meets our standards.”
To provide the service their customers expect, employees at Liberty Wines need quick and easy access to customer, order, and stock information. In the past, the company relied on 10 physical servers for applications and services, such as order processing, reporting tools, and email.
As the business expanded, the existing servers were unable to cope with increased data volumes, and maintenance of the system put a strain on the IT team of two employees. “The existing systems were beginning to slow down. They couldn’t provide the responsiveness employees expected, so we needed to upgrade our IT infrastructure before it affected sales and customer service,” says Brown.
The new system runs on a Dell EqualLogic storage area network (SAN). This means that if a virtualised server fails, its function will be immediately picked up by another server. Brown says: “We reduced the number of physical servers from 10 to four, while increasing performance, resilience, and flexibility.”
By reducing the cost of hardware and energy needed to run and cool it, Liberty Wines experienced immediate benefits from virtualisation. The company’s customers receive an even more reliable service while employees have increased their productivity. Brown says: “I can get more done now. The system is easier to administer and, so far, it’s been 100 per cent reliable, with no downtime. If we’re unable to process orders—or our sales team can’t communicate effectively with customers—we can’t provide the service our customers have come to expect. These are mission-critical aspects of our business.”
Energy costs cut by 60%
By reducing the number of physical servers, power consumption has been reduced by approximately 60 per cent. “It costs far less to run the servers, plus with only three servers and an additional backup machine, we don’t have to spend money on air conditioning to cool the system,” says Brown. “This helps our bottom line and reduces our carbon footprint, so it’s good for the environment.”
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