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As a $15.4 billion company and global provider of office products and services, Office Depot knows the challenges of managing a complex enterprise that requires continuous and stable uptime. Simplifying its IT environment with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has helped Office Depot reduce IT costs, while maintaining superior stability and performance.

> Overview
Office Depot provides more office products and services to more customers in more countries than any other company and is one of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers. With annual sales of more than $15.4 billion, the company sells to customers directly or through affiliates in 43 countries and employs approximately 52,000 associates worldwide.

> Challenge
Office Depot has grown its business both organically and through acquisitions. As a result, the company runs applications on a variety of platforms including Sun, Windows, AS/400 and mainframes. In an effort to reduce complexity and control costs, Office Depot focused on standardizing its IT environment wherever it logically made sense.

Speed to market for IT applications is also a key goal to support Office Depot’s innovative and solutions-based business. An open platform would provide the flexibility to deliver applications across its enterprise, without huge costs. Moving to Linux would also help the company maintain the required levels of security and stability for a global business that operates 24/7.

"Our strategy is to run SUSE Linux Enterprise wherever pragmatic and possible. The cost dynamics of running large-scale applications on commodity hardware are significant. Linux is a stable, secure and financially compelling solution."

Tim Toews, Senior Vice President and CIO, Office Depot

> Solution
To streamline its IT environment, Office Depot evaluated a number of application and server solutions before selecting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server was compelling to Office Depot because of its use by IBM and other large companies,” said Tim Toews, Senior Vice President and CIO of Office Depot. “Novell understands how to support a company like ours that is large and geographically dispersed. It is critical for us to have a vendor who can provide enterprise-wide support.”

Office Depot is running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in several different layers of its business including database, middleware and applications. The company runs Oracle RAC on Linux, as well as a number of Oracle middleware and e-business modules on two-way and four-way HP servers.

“Our strategy is to run SUSE Linux Enterprise wherever pragmatic and possible,” said Toews. “The cost dynamics of running large-scale applications on commodity hardware are significant. Linux is a stable, secure and financially compelling solution.”

The company now runs many of its mission-critical ERP applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise, including PeopleSoft HR and its payroll system. In addition, the IT staff is developing a plan to move Oracle Financials and JDA software to Linux, as well as the warehouse management application used to manage the company’s more than 50 global warehouses.

“The performance of SUSE Linux Enterprise has been tremendous,” said Toews. “We can deploy servers and applications with confidence in our 24/7 business where downtime is not an option. With an IT environment of our size, we carefully monitor the performance and service levels and it is critical that we have a software solution that can deliver both.”

Using VMware, Office Depot has consolidated much of its hardware by running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on virtual servers. This not only reduces hardware costs, but also helps the company keep pace with growth.

“The flexibility of Linux makes it simple to scale our business,” said Toews. “It’s much faster for us to add a server to a server farm, rather than expand capacity on a large server.”

Having an open enterprise with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has also opened up new opportunities for the IT staff to enhance their skill sets and keep up with the latest technology.

“Open source is of great interest to Office Depot’s IT staff,” said Toews. “They are excited about working with modern technology and enjoy working for an organization that is keeping pace with the industry.”

Moving forward, Office Depot is also evaluating a move to Novell ZENworks to help its centralized IT staff manage servers and workstations across its warehouses and approximately 1,200 retail store locations.

> Results
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server allows Office Depot to simplify and standardize its IT environment, while maintaining superior performance. By moving to an open platform, the company has dramatically reduced its hardware costs with the ability to run on commodity hardware. Consolidating servers has also helped reduce hardware costs, as well as power and cooling costs.

Office Depot has also reduced IT costs by moving many of its global ERP applications to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The company estimates that its Novell solutions paid for themselves in the first year.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has been an excellent investment for Office Depot and is the cornerstone of our global Linux strategy,” said Toews. “We have deployed critical business applications and IT infrastructure on Linux with great success. Without Novell, we would have been forced to find other solutions that would have been far more costly and complex.”

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