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High Availability solution assures Inghams’ uptime

  • 11 June, 2009 14:52

<p>As poultry industry major Inghams expanded in the early years of the 21st century, senior management became acutely aware of the company’s growing reliance on computer systems, for both management, administration and automated production lines. Downtime was perceived as a serious threat, so Inghams introduced the Vision High Availability (HA) solution from Vision Solutions (now known as Orion), implemented by Mid-Comp International.</p>
<p>Since then, the company has enjoyed 99.95 per cent uptime. When the main production server did crash, Orion quickly cut over processing to a backup server, with minimum disruption and no data loss. Additionally, role-swapping allows IT staff to cut over to the backup server quickly and easily when they need to carry out maintenance on the production machine.</p>
<p>A significant contributor to the Australian food industry, operating nationwide with over 7,000 employees, Inghams is Australia’s largest producer of meat chickens and turkeys. The business encompasses a fully integrated farming, primary and further processing poultry business (operating ten feedmills, ten primary plants and six further processing plants). There is a diversified stockfeed business, ingredients for petfood and stockfeed, a piggery operation and an extensive bloodstock breeding and racing division.</p>
<p>As the company expanded through the early years of the current decade, Inghams undertook a major project to revamp its operations. The company implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite and began to phase out manual picking by introducing automated operations.</p>
<p>Once the company started to get things automated, senior management began to have concerns about downtime, as computerisation was so critical to our operations. It reached the stage where operations were fully automated and the workforce were unable to load products or invoice customers if the server went down. Management realised that if a server was lost for half a day, it would make a severe impact on operations.</p>
<p>So Inghams’ IT people sought a high availability (HA) solution that would keep downtime to an absolute minimum.</p>
<p>In evaluating HA solutions, the IT team made a business case, checked available offerings and approached Mid-Comp for help. When the decision was made to implement Vision Solutions’ Orion high availability technology (disaster recovery was added later), in-house experience in using the company’s systems proved invaluable in helping Mid-Comp to introduce the new technology quickly. It took only four days. Orion delivers maximum protection and continuous availability for critical applications in large and sophisticated enterprise environments.</p>
<p>Mid-Comp’s experts soon had the system replicating all Inghams’ work, including ERP and robotic suite automation. Next the company began to build another online computer, transitioning the production server to the new role of disaster recovery (DR) server.</p>
<p>Today Inghams runs an IBM AS400 environment, with an i570 production server rated at 10,000 CPW and about 6TB of disk storage. The machine replicates a database of around 1.5TB in a continuous data protection (CDP) setup. The other server is an IBM i830 rated at 10,000 CPW with about 6TB of disk, partitioned for high availability.</p>
<p>Inghams’ main application is the BPCS ERP suite which features special features customised for the company. Other applications include financials and automation software. There are more than 1,000 users nationwide.</p>
<p>With the HA setup working perfectly, Inghams experienced a serious production server crash in mid-2007. By chance, IT staff had just completed a 130-page manual on alternative actions to take in the event of a crash.</p>
<p>A senior IT staffer recalls: “It was my day off, but I arrived at work by 9.30am and by midday the whole company was running on the backup machine. Without a doubt Orion more than paid for itself on that occasion alone, by saving the company thousands of man-hours in working time, as well as production and deliveries that would have been lost. Over the past five years, Orion has enabled us to achieve maybe 99.95 per cent uptime. In the event of a crash, all we may lose is a small amount of ‘in-flight’ information being processed at the time.”</p>
<p>Inghams also uses the HA solution for role-swapping: switching to another server for a short period with zero data loss. The IT team regard this as a valuable tool for maintaining data processing during operating system upgrades, machine upgrades and routine maintenance. When the company moved the HA server from its Liverpool, NSW, headquarters to an offsite location in Sydney, as part of a disaster recovery setup, role-swapping proved invaluable.</p>
<p>Orion allowed Inghams to swap data to a second machine, move the server, then simply roll back our information and processing to that server at its new location. The operation went without a hitch.</p>
<p>Before 2003, the only opportunity for systems maintenance came in a six-hour window between midnight on Sundays and 6am on Mondays. Now, role-swapping allows maintenance or upgrades whenever is most convenient.</p>
<p>The HA solution has run trouble-free since it was first implemented, occasionally with a little help from Mid-Comp’s support people. Inghams’ staff regard Mid-Comp’s people as being extremely helpful, creating templates on the optimum ways of performing role-swaps, and responding quickly to any support calls.</p>
<p>About Mid-Comp International</p>
<p>Mid-Comp International Pty Ltd ( is an Australian developer and supplier of business software solutions that encompass intelligent supply chain, managed availability and IBM systems management. Recently Elders Ltd chose the firm’s Odyssey intelligent supply chain solution in preference to systems from 100-plus vendors including SAP AG and Lawson Software. Odyssey is believed to be the world’s largest pure Java system. Stockman, Mid-Comp’s scaled down version of Odyssey, is targeted at SME supply chain customers. Both solutions are based on Internet delivered technology. Mid-Comp enjoys a strategic relationship with IBM, and supplies products and services to a client list that includes dominant Australian commercial enterprises. The company also supplies product to organisations in 26 countries, including many Fortune 500 companies.</p>
<p># # #</p>
<p>For more information</p>
<p>Denis Vaughan,
Director, Mid-Comp International Pty Ltd
Phone: (03) 9915 5200 or 0407 498 400
<p>David Frost
PR Deadlines Pty Ltd
Phone: (02) 4341 5021

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