Thinking Outside the Box

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2009-05-05 Print this article Print

To build a more efficient and cost-effective IT department, USEC, a nuclear fuel company, turned to server virtualization.

Thinking Outside the Box

The quest to build a more efficient IT department is at the center of USEC’s strategy. Over the next couple of years, the increased use of server virtualization will also help support a variety of other initiatives designed to reduce enterprise resource utilization.

USEC has already begun to adopt thin-client systems running under Microsoft Terminal Services. It allows as many as 50 employees to share a single terminal server. More than 400 systems across the company now run the software. “It’s a lot easier to manage and maintain one server with one installation of software than it is to manage 40 or 50 installations,” Vordick points out.

Software as a service (SaaS) is another tool that USEC has embraced. Over the last 18 months or so, the company has turned to a third-party provider to run Success Factors’ performance management and compensation management systems.

Consequently, “We have been able to deploy a consistent performance management system across the entire company,” Vordick says. “The initiative replaced a fairly manual process in which people would handle performance management tasks using Word document templates. They’re now able to access a uniform interface via their Web browser.”

In addition to ratcheting up performance management and HR tasks, the SaaS model has reduced the need for additional hardware and internal resources. What’s more, it helps USEC take applications and initiatives online in as little as 90 days.

“If there’s a high level of integration required, we will typically look at tackling the initiative in-house,” Vordick says. “For scenarios in which there’s less of a requirement for integration, software as a service makes a lot of sense. It gives us additional flexibility with existing resources.”

In the future, USEC may incorporate a variety of other tools into its IT arsenal, including storage virtualization, service-oriented architecture components and Web 2.0 tools. In every case, Vordick says, the goal is to drive improvements for both the business and IT.

“It is vital to have applications and systems available and to understand the business driver behind the IT initiative,” he says. “There’s a significant cost if a piece of hardware fails and systems go down or data isn’t available. But if, through virtualization or other tools, hardware fails and nobody notices that there’s been a failure or outage, then a huge ROI has been achieved.”

Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.

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