Prepopulating Applications

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted 2010-02-04 Print this article Print

To optimize its operations and save energy, the Lantmännen cooperative created “the world’s largest private enterprise cloud.”

Prepopulating Applications

After completing the server virtualization and consolidation effort, Jansson’s next step was to prepopulate Microsoft Office packages that could be downloaded from the servers to the Riverbed boxes. He also moved the control of which employees get to have particular applications to the front line. When a manager gets a new employee, he or she decides which software and services that individual needs, then goes to the Web page and clicks on the desired applications.

“We give all our employees an ID—Identity Lifetime Management from Microsoft—and on that profile we build the apps we’re going to roll out to them,” Jansson explains. “New employees get empty PCs and press F12 to access the apps approved by their manager. Applications are cached on the PCs, but are stored on the Riverbed boxes.

“We realized that downloading the applications over our WAN would have taken too much time, so we prepopulated our Riverbed boxes on the LANs with all the applications and shortcuts to storage. That cut the downloading time to 20 minutes per PC.”

As soon as a new employee connects to the network, the PC will synchronize. If someone loses a PC, it takes only about 20 minutes to get a new one up and running with access to that person’s applications and files.

Lantmännen users can log onto the cloud’s Web page and—in a secure environment—access every application and service they are approved to have. If they are working remotely, that can access the site using Citrix.

Jansson’s organization works as an internal IT supplier, and managers are charged for each service their employees use: software applications, e-mail and storage. “We have a service-level agreement for each service, and our prices are in sync with how good the SLA has to be,” Jansson says. “Does the manager need a 2-hour SLA or a half-day SLA? That helps determine the cost.”

Because managers know how much they are paying for each employee’s technology services, they can control costs and budget appropriately. Three times a year, managers are asked if all their staff members are still working for them. If one or more employees have left the department, IT will lower that manager’s costs.

“In addition, we can see how our services stack up against outside services with the same functionality,” Jansson says. “We can determine which services are overpriced and can look into alternatives. Our job is to keep the price tag as low as possible and to have local accountability so people don’t get more than they need. That keeps costs down.”

Another way Lantmännen is keeping its technology costs down is by selling some services to other organizations in the agriculture industry. “We’re selling WAN optimization and wireless capacity,” Jansson says, “and it’s helping us have a shorter return on our investment.”

Currently, Lantmännen keeps most of its data in-house, but Jansson hopes to increase capacity by making part of the private cloud public in the future. “We’re looking at incorporating new cloud vendors to get the benefits of scale, but I don’t know when that’s going to happen,” he says.

“I do know that our security management process is critical. We won’t move to a public cloud until the necessary security is in place. And we’d want a larger number of services, including storage, as well as lower prices.

“Finally, each country’s data needs to be stored in that country because they all have different legal and HR systems. So whatever cloud provider we go with must be global.”

Lantmännen also strives to partner with companies that are as socially conscious as it is. “We have a code of conduct that is the core of our business,” Jansson explains. “Our employees must go through an educational process to learn our code of conduct, which covers ethics, environmental issues and chemical processes. Everyone has to take a test on this subject and get a diploma.

“We’re proud to sell quality, well-priced products produced by farmers who eat their own food. We have strict standards for organic food. And we recycle and reuse anything we can to save the environment.

“I really think we’re making a difference. If I didn’t think that, I’d be working somewhere else.”

Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.

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