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Fresh produce distributor MWW sets up private cloud with VSPEX solution

Matthew Finnegan | June 7, 2013
'Cloud-in-a-box' solution chosen over Dell and HP to support extensive roll out of Microsoft NAV ERP system.

Fresh produce distributor Minor, Weir and Willis (MWW) has moved to set up a private VSPEX converged infrastructure to support IT across its growing UK operations, as part of a major overhaul of its systems.

MWW, which had turnover of over £100 million last year, provides fresh produce to a range of supermarkets in the UK, including Tesco, Asda and Morrison's, as well as a contract with food service firm Compass, and a business delivering to schools as part of a government scheme.

The firm's main production operations are based in Birmingham and services over 100 IT using staff across its entire business which totals approximately 450 employees. The main business also consists of subsidiary companies, with separate premises in other regions of the UK including Evesham, Peterborough and Chesham, with each office currently running their own server and software in silos, linked by an MPLS.

In early 2012 the company started to investigate the possibility of upgrading its infrastructure in order to facilitate the introduction of a new ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, which would be used to provide financials, reporting and supply chain management for its entire UK business.

The company had previously used a number of legacy applications including Sage Line 100 to support its operations, and was heavily reliant on Excel. To support its applications, MWW was previously running four physical HP servers. This included two HP ML350 twin quad core processors with 16GB RAM in an active-passive configuration, mirrored across independent storage systems, as well as two HP ML310 servers, used as domain controllers.

However the company experienced problems with a number of outages affecting staff productivity, and decided to refresh a number of applications, particularly its ERP system, which necessitated a move to a new hardware setup.

"We needed to have the right platform to put it all on, as it wouldn't run on the old one," said Rajinder Gill, chief financial officer at MWW. "We were having problems putting virtual machines on the existing servers - we were at capacity. NAV is hungry in terms of needing more computing power with SQL, so we had to put the infrastructure in place."

In addition the company has been looking to expand its operations, with a move to a new production facility being considered. This led to demands for IT infrastructure that could easily scale as the company itself grew, and part of the business need centred around setting up a separate disaster recovery environment to enable the agility required to facilitate such a move.

"We have been looking for a new facility for a couple of years, and that was one of the design characteristics of building the server and SAN estate," Gill explained. "It was a case of going for a production and DR zone. This meant that if we do move to new premises, we can shut down the production end, run on the DR zone, before bringing the production end live on the new site and power up there. We could then shut down the DR site and complete the move. That was one of the main considerations."


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