When you use the words ‘servers’ and Tupperware together, chances are you’re talking food presentation.
The iconic brand conjures up a variety of images for many Australians — demonstration parties, word-of-mouth sales, storage with a difference, even toys — but it is not normally associated with information technology.
The success of Tupperware in Australia, however, means the company is looking to upgrade servers of a very different kind, in time for the traditionally hectic sales rush of Christmas.
The company recently upgraded to IBM Power7 technology to support its Web ordering system for more than 6000 members of its sales force.
The technology also supports the browser-based TupperNet system for the company’s 32 distributors in Australia and New Zealand. TupperNet handles order processing, stock control, accounts and reporting, so being able to handle peak cycles and future business growth was vital. Over the last three years, the organisation’s sales force using the online ordering application has grown significantly. So far this year, Tupperware has processed more than 850,000 orders through the system.
IT operations manager, Con Sardellis, realised the company needed more processing power and capacity as well as an infrastructure capable of providing high levels of availability and performance.
Tupperware partnered with Advent One, and chose two IBM Power 750 servers — one for disaster recovery — and six IBM System x3550 servers.
The X3550 servers are iSCSI diskless Windows servers and their images are hosted on the Power 750. In the event of a server failure, Tupperware can swap to a spare server in a matter of minutes.
“Also, whenever we need to perform any maintenance on an xSeries server, we swap the image over to the spare server,” Sardellis said. “This level of redundancy results in minimal down time, which is essential to our business. Our demonstrators party all hours of the day, across four time zones and two countries. They demand high availability from our systems.”
The company has two bespoke Websphere applications that its demonstrators and distributors use to run their businesses. They reside on the 750. The X3550 servers host the Web and reporting servers that service the applications.
“We have over 10,000 Demonstrators in total, of which 6000 are registered users of the Demonstrator System,” Sardellis said.
Demonstrators who don’t use the online system have their transactions processed by their distributor.
“Being that each Demonstrator is in essence an independent business, you could say that we service over 10,000 businesses in our environment. All our sales are processed by the X3550 and i750 servers,” Sardellis said.
The company also implemented IBM iCluster High Availability software to facilitate a smooth, rapid transition from the previous system to the new environment.
Sardellis said migration was relatively simple and enabled Tupperware to reduce rack space and power consumption in its data centre.
“It was all completed in a couple of hours with barely any disruption to our operations,” he said. “This business cannot afford any significant outage.”
IBM business unit executive, Raj Thakur, said Power7 systems were designed to handle traditional applications as well as the demands of new applications.