aQuellé, located in KwaZulu-Natal, bottles and distributes natural spring water. Founded in 1998, the company supplies major retail chains throughout South Africa with bottled water in unflavoured and flavoured variants. aQuellé has invested in a state-of-the-art bottling plant and continues to grow its visibility in the market through sponsorship of sporting events.
Following several years of rapid business expansion, aQuellé had effectively outgrown its IT infrastructure. The lack of an enterprise-class collaboration platform made it difficult for users to share information and coordinate their activities, and the small IT management team was over-stretched by frequent demands for problem resolution. Internal systems lacked reliability, and there was too little granularity and flexibility around security for shared files.
To ensure that the business could continue to grow, aQuellé needed to completely refresh its IT infrastructure. There was a clear need for a new e-mail and collaboration platform, and the continual growth in employee numbers necessitated centralised tools for managing users, data security and desktop PCs. aQuellé also wanted to introduce an industry-specific ERP solution that would enable it to manage growing sales volumes more effectively.
Based on a successful previous engagement, aQuellé selected IT Dynamics as its IT services provider. Located in Durban, IT Dynamics is owned by and provides services to Kwaden Investments, a major food and consumer goods services group. aQuellé chose to standardise on technologies, and implemented GroupWise® on Open Enterprise Server running SUSE® Linux Enterprise as the first step.
"GroupWise running on Linux gave us an enterprise-class collaboration platform, taking aQuellé to a completely new level," said Andrew Muller, IT Manager, aQuellé. "Previously, it was practically impossible for users to work together effectively and share information. GroupWise has made a massive difference, providing a fast and stable environment for communication and collaboration."
IT Dynamics helped aQuellé to centralise user management and authentication and enable more granular security for shared files using Micro Focus eDirectory™ and Open Enterprise Server. Previously, aQuellé had relied on a homegrown Samba-based solution for file security, which was unwieldy and inflexible.
"The simplicity and power of the NSS file system in Open Enterprise Server simply blew us away," said Muller. "It is now easy to apply security policies to individual users or groups, and we have complete control and clarity. NSS also offers one-click file salvaging if a user accidentally deletes an important document."
Rather than having to manage separate user directories for each of its portal applications, aQuellé now has a centralised authentication service based on Micro Focus eDirectory. This has significantly simplified user management and provides automatic synchronisation of user credentials across all linked systems.
As a further step in its move to an enterprise-class IT infrastructure, aQuellé has implemented ZENworks® Desktop Management to push out a basic, locked-down desktop to all users. The aQuellé helpdesk uses the remote control functionality to resolve user support issues rapidly and efficiently, and the company plans to introduce role-based software provisioning in the near future.
IT Dynamics also provides a hosted ERP environment for aQuellé, using MFG/PRO from QAD, with customisation to suit the South African FMCG sector. This gives aQuellé industry-standard applications for financial management, production, sales, and supply chain management, delivered as a fully managed service.
The introduction of GroupWise on Linux has resulted in immediate dividends for aQuellé, giving users a stable, secure, high-performance platform for e-mail, shared calendaring and collaboration. The solution enables staff to delegate tasks to each other more easily, and provides remote access to help field sales communicate more effectively with head office.
Similarly, ZENworks has had an instant impact on the quality of IT support, enabling the aQuellé helpdesk to remotely resolve most user issues almost instantly.
"We have only really scratched the surface of what is possible with ZENworks, and it has already made a huge difference to the quality, speed and efficiency of our IT support," said Muller. "The solution is tightly integrated with Micro Focus eDirectory, keeping management simple and enabling our small IT team to service a large and growing number of users."
On the server side, aQuellé has standardised on Open Enterprise Server, which enabled the company to remain on Linux, its preferred platform, while gaining well-supported server management tools.
A key success factor for aQuellé is the continued involvement of IT Dynamics, which is now helping with a major storage and network upgrade. "The IT Dynamics consultants have tremendous expertise in our technologies, and they are absolutely focused on delivering the perfect solutions for our specific needs," said Muller. "Working with Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) and IT Dynamics has transformed our IT capabilities, giving us a flexible, low-maintenance platform for further business growth."