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Keen And Able Helps Sheela Foam Benefit From Open Source Solutions

By Snigdha Karjatkar on Mar 05, 2010
Executive Summary

The increase in the performance levels of the systems has not only benefited Sheela Foam but also brought in a lot of goodwill to the solution provider and one of the best testimonials Keen and Able could ever display in its presentation to prospective the customers.The project turned out to be an eye opener for the results that an open source technology could deliver.

The increase in the performance levels of the systems has not only benefited Sheela Foam but also brought in a lot of goodwill to the solution provider and one of the best testimonials Keen and Able could ever display in its presentation to prospective the customers.The project turned out to be an eye opener for the results that an open source technology could deliver.

 

never
say no
Sheela Foam was skeptical about moving their mission critical application to Open Source. It took Keen and Able six years to change their minds.
The Post Implementation Surprise
After the steady follow up and implementation, the end result not only surprised the end user but the solution provider Keen and Able as well. Gupta says, “We ourselves were very surprised by the improvement shown in the systems deployed by us. In fact, when we got a call from the CIO of Sheela foam, we were little unsure about the magnified output shown by the system.”
In fact, it was so very unexpected that Gupta ignored it by assuming that it was part of the settling processes of the system and it would be best to measure the output once the entire system settles down. He says, “When it was discussed with us that the performance of the system has increased manifold than promised we first thought it could be a temporary phenomenon and chose to sit back and watch. But over a period of time, the extraordinary performance continued and it was time for us to be really shocked.”
One possibility that Gupta felt that could have probably triggered the massive change in the output was the bad job by the earlier provider. He further adds, “At one point we thought perhaps either the earlier system was too badly configured or may be its some kind of miracle. But then at the end of the day, we had a happy customer which is what matters to us the most.”
The increase in the performance levels of the systems has not only benefitted the end customer but also brought in a lot of goodwill to the solution provider and one of the best testimonials Keen and Able could ever display in its presentation to prospective the customers.
The project turned out to be an eye opener for the results that an open source technology could deliver. Gupta asserts, “The lesson learnt was the ground breaking difference that open source could make in the real world. All these days we would talk about the system being cost effective and efficient. However, the quantum of difference that it could bring in was sort of unclear. One never imagined the benefits that would be accrued to the customer in terms of performance and cost effectiveness. Today we have more confidence in presenting and quantifying the benefits to the customer.”
It was an unexpected call, but the caller was familiar. It was a client call after all and Varad Gupta, CEO of Keen and Able, wasn’t a least bit surprised that the client wanted to speak to him. But, what certainly surprised Gupta was what the client had to tell him. After six long years of hesitation and deliberation, Pertisth Mankotia, Head - IT, Sheela Foam, told Gupta that he was ready to make the switch to open source for his mission critical applications. And with that Gupta’s persistence and patience finally looked to be paying off.
Though not new to using open source technologies, Sheela Foam, the makers of Sleepwell mattresses and among the top five manufacturers of flexible Polyurethane Foam (PU) in India with a distribution network of 70 distributors and 3,000 dealers, was initially extremely reluctant to adopting open source for its mission critical applications. Reason: These applications had to be available 24x7 and more importantly the thought of why change something when its working fine.
The First Steps
However, not one to take no for an answer, Keen and Able persisted with trying to convince the customer about making the switch. Initially, the solution provider approached the $200 million group with a proposal to shift their emailing solutions to Open Source, a low hanging fruit. “We realized they were facing a problem with their email solutions and that is when we took the matter up with them. We recommended that they move their emailing solutions to open source,” explains Gupta.
Convincing them to shift the emailing solutions to Open Source was relatively easy as they already had a Linux-based firewall. This made the task at hand easier as they were well aware of the reliability of open source. In fact, when the proposal was put forth, they were more than happy to set up their communication environment on Linux.
“The company was open to the idea of adopting open source technology as they were already aware of how reliable and flexible it was. Though their mission critical application was running on a proprietary UNIX platform, they were happy to setup their communication environment on Linux. That was just the beginning of our long relationship with the firm,” says Gupta.
After the successful implementation of the emailing solution, Gupta suggested a rather daring option to Mankotia. “About six months after we saw that the emailing solution was running according to their expectations, I suggested that we move their mission critical application to open source,” says Gupta.
Sheela Foam’s existing custom-built ERP was integrated into their distribution network of over 70 distributors and 3,000 dealers. The firm also used an innovative SMS-based tracking system that helped the company accurately track and maintain inventory with distributors and dealers at their locations. With every dispatch made by the company to the dealer, an SMS message was sent to the distributor about the stock dispatched.
In this process, all the daily transactions made by the more than 1,500 users worldwide was meticulously recorded by the ERP system. While the self-constructed ERP system helped Sheela Foam to boost customer confidence, it also meant that the complex and costly system had to be available on a 24x7 basis.
“We had already proved that the Open Source technology was very reliable. Even Mankotia was aware that the solution we suggested was more stable and would reduce his vendor lock-in. It would also bring down the support cost extensively, as the existing solution was fairly expensive,” Gupta adds.
Mankotia’s initial reaction was that it would call for a significant hardware overhaul as the large number of users was spread across geographies. “It was essential for the systems to run 24x7 with no room for downtime. On our proprietary UNIX system, the database was well managed, with a single point of contact, thus negating the need to co-ordinate with multiple vendors if there were any glitches,” says Mankotia.
“Although I believe in open source technology, I was slightly skeptical if my mission critical application would run efficiently in it,” he adds.
Despite Mankotia’s reservations, Gupta persisted with his pitch. He says, “I understood his concern, but still persisted on doing a PoC. I convinced him that given a chance, we would deliver a successful solution once again. He finally agreed and we decided to conduct a two-day training for his team.”
Unfortunately, due to some logistical issues, the training could not be completed. But, Gupta simply refused to give up. He continued to discuss the merits of the new technology with Mankotia on a regular basis with an aim of conducting a pilot with Sheela Foams.
Mankotia was already aware of the simplicity of the Linux technology. His only concern was support. Sheela Foams had manufacturing facilities in Australia and a tie-up in Canada. With everything from end customer to distributors linked to the ERP system, he was concerned about performance and downtime.
However, the flaws in the proprietary solution were a constant source of concern for Mankotia. Gupta says, “He was convinced about the Linux solution, but was not ready to take the plunge because of sheer apprehension. Even today, the entire top IT management in any organization has little doubt over the reliability of open source but doubts over support persist.”
TURNING POINT
It was unexpected, but it changed the thought process at Sheela Foams. The company’s critical ERP system on proprietary UNIX went down and took more than 16 hours to recover. Although the support team worked hard to fix the problem, as with any mission-critical system, any system downtime directly impacted the reputation of the company and in turn, sales and profits.
That was when Mankotia called up Gupta to inform him about the change in stance at Sheela Foams. Gupta’s persistence had finally paid off. Gupta says, “He called me and said that they were interested in moving their mission critical application to open source. Once the myth about proprietary software was shattered, it was easy for the customer to embrace this technology.”
Once Sheela Foams agreed to the transition, Red Hat Enterprise Linux was implemented on an Intel Xeon-based Dell Power Edge server. This allowed the firm to deploy its ERP on a single server. Since the firm previously used two servers, the migration doubled system performance with no downtime.
POST IMPLEMENTATION
The Red Hat solution also reduced the amount of time required for processing heavy reports by 25 percent. It has also brought down the costs of maintaining backups and server redundancy in the face of unforeseen failures.
The benefits post-deployment were starkly apparent. The reduction in servers and associated maintenance costs translated to cost savings of over Rs 40 lakh. Sheela Foams now spends only Rs 4 lakh a year compared to the more than Rs 44 lakh that was being spent on its previous UNIX system.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux has also doubled Sheela Foam’s performance levels, significantly lowered costs, and has given the company the ability to independently manage its systems.
“Today, I have complete peace of mind because the current server system is known for its stability and is well-designed to scale to the rapidly growing demands of our organization. However, my only regret is that I did not take this step earlier,” says Mankotia. But, it’s never too late to improve the performance and reliability of one’s systems. And for Gupta, the sheer tenacity and doggedness with which he pursued Sheela Foams finally paid off. n

After the steady follow up and implementation, the end result not only surprised the end user but the solution provider Keen and Able as well. Gupta says, “We ourselves were very surprised by the improvement shown in the systems deployed by us. In fact, when we got a call from the CIO of Sheela foam, we were little unsure about the magnified output shown by the system.”

In fact, it was so very unexpected that Gupta ignored it by assuming that it was part of the settling processes of the system and it would be best to measure the output once the entire system settles down. He says, “When it was discussed with us that the performance of the system has increased manifold than promised we first thought it could be a temporary phenomenon and chose to sit back and watch. But over a period of time, the extraordinary performance continued and it was time for us to be really shocked.”

One possibility that Gupta felt that could have probably triggered the massive change in the output was the bad job by the earlier provider. He further adds, “At one point we thought perhaps either the earlier system was too badly configured or may be its some kind of miracle. But then at the end of the day, we had a happy customer which is what matters to us the most.”

The increase in the performance levels of the systems has not only benefitted the end customer but also brought in a lot of goodwill to the solution provider and one of the best testimonials Keen and Able could ever display in its presentation to prospective the customers.

The project turned out to be an eye opener for the results that an open source technology could deliver. Gupta asserts, “The lesson learnt was the ground breaking difference that open source could make in the real world. All these days we would talk about the system being cost effective and efficient. However, the quantum of difference that it could bring in was sort of unclear. One never imagined the benefits that would be accrued to the customer in terms of performance and cost effectiveness. Today we have more confidence in presenting and quantifying the benefits to the customer.”

It was an unexpected call, but the caller was familiar. It was a client call after all and Varad Gupta, CEO of Keen and Able, wasn’t a least bit surprised that the client wanted to speak to him. But, what certainly surprised Gupta was what the client had to tell him. After six long years of hesitation and deliberation, Pertisth Mankotia, Head - IT, Sheela Foam, told Gupta that he was ready to make the switch to open source for his mission critical applications. And with that Gupta’s persistence and patience finally looked to be paying off.

Though not new to using open source technologies, Sheela Foam, the makers of Sleepwell mattresses and among the top five manufacturers of flexible Polyurethane Foam (PU) in India with a distribution network of 70 distributors and 3,000 dealers, was initially extremely reluctant to adopting open source for its mission critical applications. Reason: These applications had to be available 24x7 and more importantly the thought of why change something when its working fine.

 

  • Page 1 : Keen And Able Helps Sheela Foam Benefit From Open Source Solutions
  • Page 2 : The First Steps
  • Page 3 : Turning Point

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