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March 24, 2009

Server Virtualization Solution by Evolving Solutions Ensures Efficient, Nationwide Distribution of Sugar

Case study, available for complimentary download, illustrates how server virtualization heightens efficiency of data centers at American Crystal Sugar Company and United Sugars Corporation by reducing a two-week-long provisioning process to ten minutes and streamlining nationwide sugar supply chain distribution.

Minneapolis, MN March 24, 2009 - Evolving Solutions, a leading server virtualization and storage consolidation solution provider, has enabled United Sugars Corporation (United Sugars) and parent company American Crystal Sugar Company (American Crystal), to more effectively manage sugar supply chain inventory processes via the architecture of a server virtualization solution for the companies' data centers.

The case study "Server Virtualization by Evolving Solutions Ensures Efficiency of Sugar's Nationwide Supply Chain" illustrates, in detail, the integration of the "Just-In-Time" inventory strategy and the supply chain management process leveraged by United Sugars and American Crystal to ensure sugar distributors nationwide were never devoid of product.

"Just-In-Time," an inventory strategy originated by the Ford Motor Company, is built around the principle of distributors receiving just enough product to carry them through immediate needs. "Just-In-Time" ensures distributors pay minimal overhead by keeping only necessary inventory on hand.

"On any given day, we deploy hundreds of trucks and rail cars, each filled with sugar," states Roger Perala, Business Systems Manager at United Sugars. "Each car is outfitted with an RFID tracking chip allowing our data center to instantly locate any sugar shipment, and if necessary, immediately divert a shipment to any distributor needing product."

The challenge "Just-In-Time" posed for United Sugars and American Crystal arose when it came time for IT professionals to implement updates to the shipment tracking software applications at the data centers.

"The necessary process at United Sugars, and at American Crystal, of upgrading applications, such as shipment tracking on our physical servers, could be expensive and time consuming," states Roger Perala. "It was essential, however, as it ensured a smooth supply chain, and ensured our distributors always had sugar."

To upgrade applications such as shipment tracking on their servers, both United Sugars and American Crystal followed a server provisioning process stretching nearly two weeks, which consisted of:
  • Creating a physical test server that exactly matched the production server
  • Testing new applications to ensure proper interaction with the server
  • Bringing the tested applications over for 'go live' testing and implementation

To lower costs and improve supply chain efficiency, United Sugars and American Crystal needed to eliminate their costly and time-consuming server provisioning process.

"Essentially, United Sugars and American Crystal needed to significantly reduce data center physical servers," states Evolving Solutions' Nick Vannelli, who architected a server virtualization solution for both United Sugars and American Crystal. "Server virtualization was a solution we had implemented in hundreds of other data centers and felt it was a perfect solution for these companies."

Server virtualization reduces the quantity of physical servers in a data center by consolidating them into a virtual environment. By reducing the number of physical servers, the time and complexity of provisioning a server is reduced to minutes vs. weeks.

"With server virtualization, our entire process of provisioning a server and making physical upgrades disappeared," states Perala. "A timeframe of approximately two weeks needed to install one upgrade was replaced with a time period of approximately ten minutes."

Server virtualization was critical to the overall success of the "Just-In-Time" inventory and distributor supply chains managed by United Sugars and American Crystal. Rather than spending weeks upgrading a new application such as shipment tracking, the IT teams at United Sugars and American Crystal now spend their time focused on other mission critical tasks.

"Server Virtualization by Evolving Solutions Ensures Efficiency of Sugar's Nationwide Supply Chain" may be downloaded in its entirety at: http://www.evolvingsol.com/sitepages/pid297.php