About Richardson International Limited
Richardson is Canada's largest privately-owned agribusiness employing over 1,400 people and generating revenues in excess of $4.0 billion annually.
Richardson is a wholly-owned subsidiary of James Richardson & Sons, Limited (JRSL) a Canadian, family-owned enterprise that has been operating for more than 150 years.
Richardson sought to bring a single IT support model across its 97 disparate sites to streamline support operations and prevent vulnerabilities arising at sites running older versions of various applications and patches. "Tracking and reconciling all the differences between sites and manually managing images for each site was time-consuming and counterproductive," said Paul Beaudry, assistant vice president of Technical Services, MIS at Richardson International.
Having a centralized support model would also eliminate the annual pilgrimages the desktop support staff made to sites across Canada to deploy new software. "The work had to be performed in the winter during our slow season, so my team had to drive around in rural areas in treacherous conditions," said Beaudry. "By the time we deployed a new image to an operations site it was already out of date."
Richardson had been using a mix of Altiris, Novell ZENworks® and IBM Rapid Restore for its desktop and asset management needs.
"We wanted to streamline to one comprehensive management tool, rather than support multiple packages," said Beaudry. "We selected Novell ZENworks Configuration Management because its patch management and asset management capabilities were far superior to those of the Altiris solution."
The unique satellite server feature of Novell ZENworks Configuration Management, which allows any managed device to act as a server, was also appealing. This enables Richardson's smaller sites to host Novell ZENworks Configuration Management on a desktop machine, instead of having to purchase individual servers.
"Deploying a full-blown server at each of our remote sites wasn't feasible," said Beaudry. "If we had to build 97 Windows servers and buy 1,000 Windows Server Client Access Licenses, our cost model would go out the window. The satellite server option is flexible and efficient, and means we can manage every PC across the enterprise in a consistent and cost-effective manner."
Richardson now uses Novell ZENworks Configuration Management to centrally manage all of its 800 workstations, leveraging the application distribution, patch management, imaging and remote control functionalities. The company recently used the solution to migrate its users to Windows XP, delivering completely upgraded systems to users in less than 45 minutes.
Richardson also makes extensive use of SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server. "We're huge open source proponents and run most of our mission critical applications, including Novell ZENworks Configuration Management and Novell GroupWise®, on Linux," said Beaudry. "The cost of Linux is obviously attractive. Linux-based servers are also inherently more secure. The uptime of our Linux-based servers far exceeds that of our Windows-based servers."
Novell ZENworks Configuration Management has enabled Richardson to standardize its IT processes, eliminating the high costs associated with managing a widely distributed business environment. Today, the company has a consistent and scalable approach to deploying new application and system updates. "We have a distributed model similar to retail operations, so it's crucial to have a scalable solution to support rapid expansion," said Beaudry. "As we add new locations, Novell ZENworks Configuration Managements helps us get users up and running faster, no matter where they are located."
In addition, provisioning new desktops can now be done in one third the time. "There's no more manual imaging, and no need to babysit the system," said Beaudry. "The more time we can free up from these low-value tasks, the more time we can spend on higher value initiatives, which provides tremendous value to the organization as a whole."
This centralized approach has also reduced the amount of time spent repairing machines. Previously, users had to wait several days for replacement PCs to arrive at the company's more isolated sites. "Today if something goes wrong, we spend minimal time troubleshooting," Beaudry said. "We can simply remotely reboot a machine, install a new image and have the user back up and running again in less than an hour."
Finally, the company has benefited from running Novell ZENworks Configuration Management on Linux. "Novell ZENworks Configuration Management has proven to be a critical resource for reducing our IT support costs and keeping pace with the company's growth," said Beaudry. "We also like the cross-platform capabilities of Novell ZENworks Configuration Management. By running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server instead of Windows, we can keep our cost structure low, while obtaining flexibility in choosing the platform on which we run this mission-critical application."