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Macmahon Holdings

Macmahon Holdings wanted to enable its employees to work from anywhere at any time while becoming hardware-independent.

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About Macmahon Holdings

Macmahon Holdings is a mining and civil construction company with headquarters in Perth, Western Australia. The company employs over 3,000 people and operates from 50 locations across the Asia Pacific region. Revenues grew by more than 12 percent in fiscal year 2007, to a total of AUD$966 million (USD$856 million).

Challenge

Macmahon operates from sites scattered across Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, many of which are located in remote areas. In many cases, these sites lacked the modern communications infrastructure required to provide access to centralised IT systems. As a result, each site tended to have its own local servers, with slow modem connections to the company's headquarters.

"The biggest challenge was mobility, because we're spread across so many locations," said Jason Cowie, CIO of Macmahon. "We wanted to create a new infrastructure that would enable all of our users to access the same central file servers, databases and applications, so we designed a new strategy called Global One."

The Global One strategy enables users to access any system securely, from anywhere, at any time, on any hardware device. The strategy is based on our vendor pillars concept of: communications, network core, delivery and infrastructure–each of which is provided by a separate technology partner.

Novell Solution

Macmahon worked with Telstra to create a new state-of-the-art communications infrastructure to replace the existing modem-based network, and with IBM to create two new central data centres–one for production and one for disaster recovery. Once the new hardware and equipment was in place, the company needed a partner that could deliver the core software for its new network.

"We chose Novell for the network core not only because of the high-quality software and services they can provide, but because they really bought into our idea of a strategic partnership," said Cowie. "With a single vendor for all our network management and security software, we benefit from a reliable infrastructure with excellent technical support."

Macmahon is standardising on Novell Open Enterprise Server as its network operating system. With support for the company's existing NetWare® environment as well as the high-performance SUSE® Linux Enterprise operating system, Open Enterprise Server is helping Macmahon embrace open source at its own pace

"We have already moved 60 percent of our servers to SUSE Linux Enterprise, and we are looking to increase this percentage," said Cowie. "In the future, we will use proprietary operating systems only when our business applications cannot be ported to Linux-which is becoming increasingly rare."

Macmahon uses Novell Identity Manager to provide a single sign-on to most of its business applications, which are delivered through presentation software from the fourth key partner, Citrix. The use of Citrix software enables users to access powerful applications running on the server side, so users can work productively even on low-end PCs.

The desktop environment that Citrix delivers is managed using Novell ZENworks® Suite, which controls access to applications through sophisticated security policies. Macmahon also uses Novell ZENworks to deliver patches to its servers and laptops, eliminating the need for IT staff to provision each machine by hand–previously a very time-consuming process.

"With Novell ZENworks and Novell Identity Manager, we have centralised control of both software provisioning, user management and asset management" said Cowie. "This considerably reduces the routine administration workload for our IT staff."

Results

Through its strategic partnership with Novell, Macmahon benefits from a state-of-the-art network infrastructure while keeping costs low. By standardising on the same software across the business, the company also minimises licensing and support costs, while cutting the administration workload for its IT team.

"Working so closely with Novell means that we can be early adopters of new solutions, giving us a competitive advantage," said Cowie. "For example, we are soon going to roll out Novell Teaming + Conferencing, which will help different divisions of the business collaborate using wikis, blogs, forums, instant messaging and shared workspaces. We have a variety of complex projects with many stakeholders, so this solution has a great deal of potential to improve productivity and internal communications."

Thanks to the close partnership between Macmahon, Telstra, IBM, Citrix and Novell, the Global One initiative has already completed its first phase–six months ahead of schedule.

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