Proof Point - Thinking Outside of the Box
Mar/Apr 2003 by Liz Tanner
Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) is the sixth largest manufacturer of containerboard and corrugated packaging products in the United States. PCA operates four paper mills, 65 corrugated manufacturing plants and 110 various sites consisting of warehouses, design centers and sales offices across the country. PCAís focus on a single line of business differentiates the company from major competitors, and has created a well-recognized level of operational excellence and profitability. With 2001 net sales of $1.8 billion and 7,900 employees, PCA produced 2.1 million tons of containerboard and shipped 26.1 billion square feet of corrugated products.
Approximately 25 percent of PCAís total user community uses laptops, most of which do not connect to the network through a LAN. PCA wanted an Internet-based solution to give these mobile employees secure, immediate access to company data and resources, at any time and from any location. The company also wanted to extend secure Internet access to its customers to allow them to place orders and to check real-time account information.
Along with secure remote access, the organization required a reliable file access and management tool for its laptop users. PCA first utilized Microsoft Briefcase to synchronize laptop files. Unfortunately, this method backs up all the files during each synchronization, which requires a lot of time and was therefore deemed inconvenient. PCA also tried having users initiate DOS batch jobs each week, but this method proved inconsistent. PCA desired a simple and reliable solution to ensure that all documents stored on laptops could be backed up on the go.
Finally, with 300 servers and 4,000+ desktops across 170 locations throughout the United States, PCA began searching for a desktop management solution to quickly deploy applications and upgrades. The IT staff was spending two weeks to manually set up a new site with servers and desktops. PCA also lacked remote control functionality to manage its low-end workstations, so the IT staff had to manually troubleshoot these workstations, increasing its administrative workload. PCA wanted an efficient solution to automate the process of troubleshooting workstations and upgrading software.
To accomplish its goals, PCA selected Novell solutions, including Novell NetWare 6, Novell iFolder, Novell eDirectory, Novell DirXML, Novell ZENworks for Servers and Novell ZENworks for Desktops.
PCA used Stoneware Web Portal to create a company portal that gives employees access to corporate data from any Web browser. The portal is integrated with Novell eDirectory, which centralizes the storage, management and security of PCAís user identity information. With eDirectory, PCA has a comprehensive view of each userís profile and a single point to manage identity information that resides in data stores and applications across the enterprise. PCA uses Novell DirXML to synchronize user identity information, eliminating the need to manually update user data in every system.
In the past, PCA plant managers had to keep track of different passwords to access each application throughout the day. Today, users enter the portal with a single ID and password to access corporate applications. eDirectory manages 4,200 user IDs and provides access to applications via a personalized portal page, based on the userís credentials. As a result, PCA no longer needs to provide its dial-up users with multiple PIN numbers or security ID cards, and saves thousands of dollars a year.
"With Novell Security and Identity solutions, we have also significantly decreased our maintenance responsibilities and costs because we no longer need to install software or applications on a userís home PC," said Dustin Sanders, director of Networking Services at Packaging Corporation of America. "Employees can now access everything they need through our portal, and we are out of the business of managing home machines."
Better customer service with real-time Internet access
PCA uses Stoneware to provide secure portal access to approximately 400 of its major customers, and is gradually extending this service to its entire customer base. PCA uses eDirectory as the authoritative source for all its customer information, allowing customers to access the PCA portal with a single sign-on ID and password to place and track orders, view inventory and check real-time account status.
director of Networking Services,
Customers can even use the portal to design customized boxes and distribute their ideas to others for feedback. The portal also accepts XML orders, making it easier for customers to do business with PCA. The Customer Service Representatives now spend less time processing orders and can concentrate on providing better customer service.
Simplified access, storage and management of files
After unsuccessful attempts with other file storage and management solutions, PCA chose Novell iFolder to improve the productivity of its mobile users. "We wanted to give mobile employees a simple, secure way to store and manage their personal files, regardless of location," said Sanders. "Novell offers convenience and flexibility with its file access and storage using the Internet, along with the security we need to protect our corporate data."
Using any Web browser, mobile users can instantly access their most current files from their iFolder via the company portal. Their information is secure whether they access files from a hotel, an airport kiosk, another PCA location or from home.
Acting as a virtual file folder, iFolder stores files in an encrypted format to a private folder on the server and automatically updates files whenever a change is made. Only changed data gets updated to the server each time a user synchronizes, which makes it fast and efficient regardless of bandwidth. PCA users enjoy the flexibility of working offline, and then synchronizing their files when back online.
"iFolder is non-intrusive and runs so well that users donít even notice when itís updating files," said Sanders. "Because it only synchronizes data changes, rather than entire files, iFolder is especially beneficial for users with large files."
With iFolder, PCA has also improved its disaster recovery efforts. If a laptop should crash, the IT staff can re-image laptops significantly faster without worrying about saving data from the userís hard drive, as all their data is stored in iFolder. PCA also stores the userís customized desktop settings in iFolder, which makes it easy to rebuild a laptop while keeping personalization intact. While waiting on laptop repairs, users can continue working by accessing their iFolder from the PCA portal, from any computer.
"One of the biggest benefits of Novell iFolder is that users no longer need to worry about synchronizing or backing up their filesóand neither does the IT staff," said Sanders. "We have a file access, storage and backup solution that is virtually maintenance free."
iFolder also benefits PCAís human resources department and its need to store large amounts of confidential information. HR employees prefer to store data in an encrypted iFolder, rather than a regular network drive, to increase the security of personnel information.
Application and software upgrades ten times faster
In the past, PCA utilized applications such as Symantecís Ghost for imaging, OnDemandís WinINSTALL for application deployment, HPís DTA for file transfers to multiple locations, and tested Microsoft SMS to meet its need for remote control and policy management. Today, the company utilizes Novell ZENworks for Desktops, along with ZENworks for Servers, as its comprehensive desktop management solution.
Using ZENworks for Desktops, PCA decreased the amount of time required to set up a new site from two weeks to a few days. ZENworks for Desktops also delivers a tenfold increase in speed and reliability when deploying applications by automatically installing software to multiple sites.
PCA uses the policy management functionality in ZENworks for Desktops to standardize its workstations and prevent employees from changing their configurations or installing their own software. This control has dramatically reduced the amount of time the IT staff once spent troubleshooting workstation problems. Using remote control, administrators can provide troubleshooting for workstations without leaving their offices.
ZENworks for Desktops has increased PCAís overall IT efficiency with automated application deployment, policy management, and remote control functionality. Today, only two people are needed to build and upgrade 300 servers, and three people are able to build new applications and software updates for deployment to the entire user community.
PCA uses ZENworks for Servers to efficiently manage upgrades to 190 NetWare servers and 110 Windows NT servers. In the past, the company had to ship CDs to each location, and an on-site systems engineer would perform a time-consuming manual checklist, with the possibility of human error. Now the company has automated the upgrade of all its servers from a central location, eliminating travel costs and guaranteeing a successful upgrade. PCA also utilizes ZENworks for Servers to assist with building new servers, which now can be done in a matter of hours.
"Novell ZENworks for Desktops and ZENworks for Servers are our bread and butter," said Sanders. "Everything we do revolves around these products. Without them, we would put off upgrading our software because it would be too difficult to manage and we wouldnít be able to keep pace with the latest technology. With ZENworks, upgrades are no big deal."
PCA plans to use the inventory management functionality in ZENworks for Desktops to dramatically shorten its inventory process and assist with determining life cycles. Previously, the IT staff used Excel spreadsheets and relied on manual processes to determine which machines could be upgraded with additional hardware, or which ones couldnít be upgraded and needed to be replaced. PCA anticipates completing next yearís inventory with just a few clicks of the mouse.
PCA implemented Novell solutions to support its company portal, giving both employees and customers secure Internet access to information. The portal increases convenience, reduces costs and makes it easier for customers to do business with PCA.
iFolder has improved the file access, storage and management for all of PCAís mobile users. Traveling employees can now access up-to-date files and be productive from any location. With automatic file synchronization to a central server, iFolder safeguards data with a consistent and reliable backup. ZENworks for Desktops and ZENworks for Servers have dramatically simplified desktop and server management, reducing the time required to set up a new site by 85 percent and delivering applications and software upgrades ten times faster.
With Novell, PCA can keep pace with the latest technology, while maintaining a steady IT budget and the lowest overhead costs in the corrugated packaging industry. "Everyone at the company is overwhelming pleased with our Novell solutions," said Sanders. "We have an increased IT efficiency that helps us keep costs under controlóone of the major reasons why we havenít had to increase our IT budget in the past four years."
- Provide secure remote access to employees and customers
- Establish disaster-tolerant solution for laptop users
- Speed delivery of applications and software upgrades to 100 sites
- Novell Security and Identity: Novell eDirectory, Novell DirXML
- Novell Operating Systems and Services: Novell NetWare 6, Novell iFolder, Novell ZENworks for Desktops, Novell ZENworks for Servers
- Created secure portal to provide employees and customers anytime, anywhere access to personalized data with a single ID and password
- Eliminated cost of maintaining home business software and computers
- Established reliable disaster recovery solution with Internet file management and storage
- Increased speed to set up a new site by 85 percent
- Realized a tenfold increase in speed to deploy applications and software upgrades