UPDATED 18:39 EDT / MAY 12 2014

How virtualization makes IT expansion less costly | #EMCWorld

#EMCWorldAt EMC World 2014, Jeff Frick interviewed Dan Allensworth, Coach of Technology Services at Johnsonville Sausage in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Johnsonville has been in business since 1945 and operates six facilities in the United States. They distribute through all 50 U.S. states and to 30 countries around the world. Allensworth commented with pride, “Four out of every five brats you buy in the U.S. are Johnsonville brats.”

Curious about Allensworth’s title, “Coach,” Frick asked him to elaborate on the story behind his position. Allensworth replied that at Johnsonville, the owner encourages a team-oriented approach: instead of managers and employees, they have coaches and team members that range from the service desk to networking.

  • Johnsonville’s Tech Tools

Next, Frick enquired about the IT shop that Allensworth coaches — asking what size it is and what systems it runs. “[…]really, we’re an SAP shop,” Allensworth explained, mentioning that the IT shop runs SAP HANA products on EMC VNX storage. He also mentioned CISCO UCS. Frick also asked why Allensworth decided to come to EMC World, to which the Tech Services Coach replied, “[…] to get more information on where those products are going. It was actually a great presentation today where they’re going to start doing virtualization on top of the HANA appliances. So we’re really excited about that. That’s definitely going to give us future directions for growth at Johnsonville.”

Frick wondered whether Allensworth had the chance to talk with any other practitioners while at EMC World. Allensworth replied, “Absolutely. We use Data Domain extensively in our environment. We use the new XtremIO for our BDI environment, which we just love, by the way […] And we’ve been getting a lot more information about the networker AVAMAR setups that we really haven’t jumped into those yet […]”.

The Appeal of Virtualization

 

Screenshot 2014-05-12 11.57.40

Considering Allensworth’s earlier comment, Frick asked him to speak more about Johnsonville’s move towards virtualization and why virtualized HANA will enable the company to do that they currently cannot. The decision to move towards virtualization was due of cost issues with the current environment: Johnsonville had been using HANA as a starter appliance, but needed to expand. The trouble was that “[…] as you scale into more modules […] the price gets pretty significant.” But, as Allensworth explained, “when you go to virtualize that scenario, then you’re running multiple guests on the same hardware, you can size them down to what your actual database sizes are, not to what your blades are. And you can cut costs significantly.”

Frick also asked whether Allensworth was “moving more and more of [his] apps to a virtualized environment.” Allensworth said that yes, they had, and that “prior to going to HANA we were all SAP, both application servers and SQL database servers, all running virtualized under VMware.”

  • In-House App Development

Frick also asked whether Johnsonville does a lot of their own in-house app development. Allensworth answered that they mostly use SAP and implement the modules: “If you can put three letters together, it’s probably an SAP module and we’re probably running it.”

The Effects of Megatrends

 

Frick then asked Allensworth to condor how megatrends are affection his business, specifically big data and BYOD. When it comes to big data, Allensworth replied, that’s “really the big idea behind HANA […] In the short term, our quick wins were all around big data solutions. So taking DSM for example, we’re taking our scan data from customers, we’re tying that in to price and promotions, and we’re actually going to be able to get predictive on what are the best promotions, things like price elasticity.” For Allensworth and Johnsonville, access to “almost real time data” means that they can get much better at predicting future outcomes.

Allensworth mentioned that HANA has been a hugely helpful factor when it comes to BYOD as well: “I would say a shortcoming of traditional SAP is the ability to take and embed analytics into the various modules and applications but when you add HANA on top of it, you can start embedding, real time, into these applications analytical functionality for the end user. That translates right away to iPads running, dashboards with all of this reporting information for who ever needs it.” He also explained that BYOD is an important initiative for Johnsonville because it allows them to “make decisions faster, make decisions better.”

  • Factory Floor v.s Management Suite

In terms of dash-boarding and access, Frick also asked, “how much of that is on the factory verses in the management suite.” “There’s actually a lot of it in both,” Allensworth explained. At present, his IT shop handles sales, promotions, and the financial side, but they’re looking to expand to the factory floor: “And that’s why that virtualization piece is so exciting, because until we have a good ability to recover in a true disaster, things like the main ECC or pant PM, things that keep the plant floor running, there’re going to be a little cautions putting those on HANA.”

  • Client Relationships

Next, Frick asked “How tight are you in terms of a direct relationship with the people that eat the sausages, vs. the grocery stores ad retail chains?” Allensworth responded that his company uses intermediaries like Nielsen or Scan Data to get data and then load it into their system. Frick pressed Allensworth on whether his company is trying to develop more direct relationships with clients, and Allensworth said that indeed they were: “Absolutely on the promotions side we are. But when you talk about predictive analytics, that’s getting real-time data on the customers as they buy the products. And we pull all of that data in from a third party.”

  • What’s on the Horizon

To conclude, Frick inquired, “What’s next for you?” Allensworth underscored that virtualization really is what he’s focusing on, ” Because if we can do the virtualization piece and get to where we have a good scenario for quickly recovering from things like a disaster, then you get to where you’re doing more on a production floor and you’re doing more of those critical applications to manufacturing.”


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