Case Study: Medical tech provider virtualises ERP distribution
- 03 August, 2012 10:44
Medical technology company Stryker has seen high performance and minimal downtime since selecting a virtualised product from Citrix to speed distribution of updates for its JD Edwards (JDE) ERP platform, according to Stryker associate director of Global IT infrastructure, Adam Levin.
Stryker is an $8.3 billion medical technology company with 350 employees in Australia and 21,000 globally. It sells reconstructive, medical, surgical and neurotechnology devices to hospitals around the world.
In 2006, the company “had an infrastructure that was almost reaching its end of life, and we were looking for alternatives and opportunities to do an upgrade of the existing ERP application,” Levin told Computerworld Australia. Stryker hoped to improve stability, performance and reduce its existing footprint of physical architecture, he said.
“Within the Australian and New Zealand network we have distribution centres” with staff “who perform warehouse tasks as well as financial and normal office administrative tasks,” Levin said. Stryker wanted to find a way to connect them to the ERP application “so that their experience in using the system was as if the application was sitting in the same office as where they were at,” he said.
Besides Citrix XenApp, Stryker considered Microsoft Terminal Server, Levin said. Alternatively, it considered manually distributing the client to each work station, he said. Stryker chose Citrix in part because it had a small footprint of Citrix already and was familiar with platform, but also because the product made updates faster and easier than the other options, he said.
With the JDE ERP platform, “you need to redistribute the client once you’ve made the changes,” Levin said. “And so if you had all the clients physically installed on each of the workstations around Australia and New Zealand, it would mean that we’d have to update each of those workstations individually."
With Citrix, “we were able to publish the JDE client application and therefore only make a change once,” he said. Stryker could “change it at the core and then everyone would receive those changes when they next logged in to JDE.”
Microsoft Terminal Server “didn’t give us that same level of functionality and ability to do that level of updates like Citrix did,” he added.
After six years “we’ve had minimal downtime [on] the Citrix platform,” Levin said. Running updates and upgrades to Citrix have also had negligible impact on production, he said. That constant uptime is important because “if we have an outage it impacts our ability to be able to distribute product and that has an impact on the overall bottom line.”
Stryker has also seen improvements to performance across the wide area network due to the way Citrix manages data across the network, he said. “We haven’t had to scale our network to have significant bandwidth all over the Australian continent.”
Day-to-day management of Citrix has been easy, he said. One only has to “install it, configure it, set it up the way that you want it and then you leave it, unless you want to publish additional applications or make the necessary updates or patch fixes.”
“It’s not free and it’s not cheap—licensing is relatively costly—but if you look at the return on investment over the period of three months, it’s very valuable to us from that perspective,” Levin said. “We’ve been able to maintain a flat cost structure with regards to the administration and maintenance of the Citrix environment.”
With success in Australia and New Zealand, Stryker plans to use the Citrix product in its offices globally, Levin said.
Stryker may also look again to Citrix as it looks to build a Bring Your Own Device policy, Levin said. The BYOD policy is “a work in progress,” he said. BYOD is a “great opportunity,” but it “does pose significant changes to the infrastructure.”
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