Amerijet's Consolidated Data Center Takes Flight
By Samuel Greengard
Transporting cargo around the globe and getting it to a destination on time and intact is a daunting task. Global cargo shipping firm Amerijet International, which hauls upward of 200 million pounds of freight annually to more than 550 destinations worldwide, is among the key players in the cargo shipping business. Ensuring that shipments move quickly and securely via land, sea and air requires sophisticated and dependable IT systems and software.
It's critical to meet customs cutoff times, provide excellent customer service and achieve the highest level of systems availability. In the past, the company faced a number of challenges in keeping the business running effectively, notes Jennifer Torlone, senior director of Technology and Information Services at Amerijet.
"We saw substantial opportunities for cost savings and greater business efficiencies," Torlone says. "We decided to consolidate business units handling a portfolio of integrated products into a single data center."
After a six-month analysis that involved input from the business units, Amerijet formulated a new IT strategy. "We wanted to focus on building an IT infrastructure that would enable growth," she explains. "The goal was to allow the company to double in size for the next five years."
To deliver the highest level of performance for its Windows-based business applications, the firm turned to an end-to-end Dell solution that includes servers, storage, networking equipment, software and services. It installed 14 new Dell PowerEdge blade servers and ramped up a virtualization initiative.
The result was a data center running 120 virtual servers on 14 physical machines. "We were able to dramatically reduce our footprint, while increasing our processing power," Torlone points out.
The migration to the new data center required only about 10 hours. The firm immediately achieved a reduction in data center costs by about 60 percent as a result of more energy-efficient servers and storage devices.
But more powerful systems translated into other improvements, as well. For example, cargo reports that previously required 30 to 45 minutes to compile now require only seconds. "We're able to view our inventory at any location," she says. "We know what cargo is on hand versus what is allocated for a flight."
In addition, Amerijet has reduced the time required to close flights—essentially matching air labels with shipment lists that are then submitted to Customs for approval—by 96 percent through the use of a Dell Compellent storage area network. What used to take 45 minutes now takes about two minutes, Torlone says. These improvements have helped expedite freight handling and improve customer satisfaction levels.
Torlone says that the technology improvements had made it easier for the IT staff to move away from day-to-day administrative tasks and focus on more strategic challenges. The previous environment couldn't support iPads and other mobile tools that pilots and others now use. In addition, the company is about to launch a SharePoint environment, and it is rolling out Microsoft CRM.
Finally, Torlone says, "We have a true disaster recovery failover capability. Through the cloud, we can recover data from another city if a disaster or disruption occurs."