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Coop Genossenschaft (Switzerland)

Coop required a solution to manage the deployment of patches and software updates to its distributed Linux resources. Novell Platinum Partner Nexpert implemented Novell ZENworks Linux Management in a three-tier distribution architecture—increasing the standardisation and security of Linux systems with minimum input from IT staff.

About Coop Genossenschaft (Switzerland)

Coop is Switzerland's largest retail group, operating under many popular brands including Coop, Fust, Interdiscount, Toptip, Lumimart and Christ. With more than 1,400 stores and 53,500 employees across the country, Coop has gained a 17.4 percent market share, and achieves annual sales of more than 20 billion Swiss Francs.

Challenge

Manually ensuring the standardisation of Coop's 8,000 Linux systems was proving very challenging for the company's small, five-person Linux team. Hiring additional employees to manage Linux-related technologies was not a viable financial option.

"We were looking for a solution that would enable the automatic roll-out of new software and patching tools to guarantee that all our Linux systems were supported with the very latest updates," said Kurt Uhlmann, Head of Information Strategy/Architecture, Coop Switzerland. "It was also important that the solution should provide the necessary scalability to sustain the continued growth of our Linux environment."

Coop required a solution that would not only manage all Linux-based servers in both data centres, but also support Point of Sales (POS) terminals and 'Superbox' loyalty card kiosks running on a SUSE® Linux Enterprise platform in the company's 1,400 shops throughout Switzerland.

"The management of such a large number of disparate Linux resources required the creation of a highly sophisticated distribution architecture," said Daniel Trier, CEO, Nexpert.

Novell Solution

Following a pilot installation carried out by Novell Platinum Partner Nexpert, Coop selected Novell ZENworks Linux Management as its chosen solution.

"We reviewed other products, such as a solution from SUN, but ultimately felt that Novell ZENworks Linux Management was the best option for managing our very large number of distributed devices." said Uhlmann.

With the assistance of Nexpert, Coop has implemented the largest European-wide Novell ZENworks Linux Management solution to date.

"Rather than liaise with a number of different consultants, we had just one single point of contact at Nexpert throughout the project who had a lot of experience with the solution and provided a great deal of expertise," said Uhlmann. "All in all, the level of service we received from Nexpert was first-rate and it was very gratifying to collaborate with such a competent partner."

To meet the load-balancing and network bandwidth usage requirements of Coop's large Linux environment, Nexpert designed and implemented a unique three-tier Novell ZENworks Linux Management distribution architecture.

The distribution architecture consists of one primary virtualised ZENworks Linux Management server, 10 virtualised secondary servers that handle the actual distribution, and 1,400 local cache servers located in Coop's shops and retailers such as Christ, Toptip, Luminart etc.,which are configured as software repositories.

Coop is currently rolling out a new POS solution, which will download software and patching updates from local cache servers and distribute them to 7,000 POS terminals in Coop stores.

Once all stores have been equipped with the new POS and ZENworks solution, Coop also plans to use an end-to-end ZENworks infrastructure to distribute updates to 1,200 Superbox kiosks that are also located in Coop stores.

"The Novell ZENworks Linux Management solution architecture is tailored to Coop's requirement for scalability," said Trier. "Coop will be able to scale up the number of its secondary servers as and when necessary to meet future requirements."

Results

The implementation of Novell ZENworks Linux Management has enabled Coop to standardise its Linux management processes across a large, distributed Linux environment.

"Based on our experience of other software distribution tools in the past, we expected more problems to arise," says Uhlmann. "In actual fact, the implementation has gone very smoothly and we are confident that we are exploiting the Novell ZENworks Linux Management solution to its full potential."

The Novell ZENworks Linux Management solution will enable the faster distribution of patches and software updates to all Linux-based systems, improving security by enabling quicker responses to possible security threats in software packages.

"POS terminals, in particular, will benefit from receiving new patches and updates up to five times faster than before," said Uhlmann. "We will be able to meet patch release targets by ensuring that all POS terminals are automatically updated twice a year with new and standardised patching images."

"New images are now distributed just once to local cache servers in each Coop store, rather than multiple times to all POS terminals," said Daniel Trier. "This streamlined process will enable Coop to achieve significant bandwidth savings."

Finally, Novell ZENworks Linux Management will also enable Coop to centrally manage and maintain its Linux resources with minimum staff numbers. With patches and updates deployed automatically to all devices, there will be no need for Linux IT technicians to visit stores except for hardware and software installations.

"Novell ZENworks Linux Management will ensure that our Linux teams do not have to grow in parallel to the expansion of our Linux environment," said Uhlmann.

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