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Erbslöh Geisenheim

Erbslöh Geisenheim AG created a thin-client ERP and CRM solution using Novell eDirectory and Citrix, and uses Novell ZENworks Configuration Management to distribute software to remote workstations in several countries.

About Erbslöh Geisenheim

Erbslöh is a family-owned company that provides specialist services for beverage treatment. It works closely with leading biotechnology research institutes such as the Geisenheim Research Institute to develop new solutions for beverage manufacturing. The company employs 130 people and generates revenues of €35 million per year.

Challenge

Over the past five years, domestic growth and international expansion have doubled Erbslöh's employee-base. With sales offices and subsidiaries in many European countries, the company's IT team was beginning to find it difficult to manage its infrastructure.

"Previously, most of our workstations were located at headquarters in Geisenheim. IT staff rolled out new software manually," said Martin Schwab, Deputy Head of IT at Erbslöh. "Now we have more than 100 workstations all over Europe, and keeping them all updated with the latest applications and patches was becoming a significant challenge."

Erbslöh decided to find a solution that would enable remote management of all IT assets. The company was also planning to roll out new ERP and CRM applications to all its users, so it was important to put the solution in place ahead of this major deployment.

Novell Solution

Erbslöh consulted its long-time IT supplier, Carpe diem, a Novell Platinum Partner, to design a solution that would minimise infrastructure management workload and simplify the distribution of software.

"We were interested in thin-client technologies. Carpe diem suggested using a combination of Novell eDirectory™ and Citrix Presentation Server that gives users access to the new ERP and CRM systems," said Schwab. "The Citrix client software and other applications such as Microsoft Outlook would be deployed to local workstations using Novell ZENworks® Configuration Management, which would also distribute patches and updates."

The Carpe diem team worked with Erbslöh's in-house IT staff to create a detailed plan for the implementation, drawing on their extensive project management experience to set milestones. The project was completed in a systematic fashion.

"We have been working with Carpe diem for ten years, so they understand how our business works," said Schwab. "They have delivered many successful projects for us, and we have great respect for their technical skills. We were delighted with how well this implementation went. All project tasks were completed within just 13 days. We were able to get users at our new French subsidiary online almost immediately."

To improve resilience for back-end systems, Erbslöh also created a Novell Open Enterprise Server cluster running on HP blade servers to provide file and print services for all users. The cluster ensures high availability—even if there is a hardware failure in one of the blades, the other nodes of the cluster will continue to support users.

"As we move towards a thin-client approach to our IT infrastructure, the availability of our central systems becomes even more important," said Schwab. "The clustered implementation of Novell Open Enterprise Server plays a vital role in ensuring that our users can access business-critical services like file and print at all times."

Results

With Novell eDirectory governing user rights for the Citrix Presentation Server environment, Erbslöh ensures that authorised users can access the new CRM and ERP applications from across Europe, with no need to install and update large client applications on their workstations.

"The flexibility of the solution has meant that many users are able to work from their home office—a benefit that we hadn't anticipated when we were planning the solution," said Schwab. "With Citrix, we can effectively enable people to work wherever they choose, while Novell eDirectory helps us maintain security and prevent unauthorised access. Citrix has also saved us between 10 and 20 percent in software licensing costs for the CRM and ERP applications."

Novell ZENworks Configuration Management enables the central IT team to remotely provision new workstations with all the software they need—including the Microsoft Windows operating system with Citrix and Microsoft Outlook clients.

"With Novell ZENworks Configuration Management, we no longer have any need to visit workstations to install software manually, which saves time, especially if the machine is located in another country," said Schwab. "Typically, distributing an update only takes 30 to 60 minutes. Recently we completed a rollout of new Microsoft Outlook clients within an hour, whereas before it might have taken two days."

With this centralised approach to IT management, Erbslöh is in a strong position to support future domestic and international expansion. The company is now planning to extend the Novell and Citrix solution to deliver a complete thin-client solution for a new location in Germany.

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