Bag manufacturer keeps emails flowing with continuity tool

Handbag manufacturer The Sak has said its use of continuity software to protect its business-critical email has boosted its order-taking capability by delivering round-the-clock uptime since going live on the system last year.

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Handbag manufacturer The Sak has said its use of continuity software to protect its business-critical email has boosted its order-taking capability by delivering round-the-clock uptime since going live on the system last year.

The firm, which sells handbags to department stores around the world, was hit by a costly email outage two years ago when an email server running Microsoft Exchange failed.

It prompted Brad Bolton, the firm's IT director, to bolster The Sak's business continuity arrangements by using two products from specialist supplier Neverfail.

Bolton implemented Neverfail for Exchange in July last year, after first running diagnostic tests on its servers using Neverfail SCOPE to evaluate the optimum set-up required.

He said a software-based product such as Neverfail was a good fit for the business since it enabled the IT department to carry out maintenance on its key email servers even during core business hours without affecting the flow of orders.

The software proactively monitors the entire Exchange mail server environment and takes pre-emptive, corrective actions if any problem emerges. It is also capable of switching seamlessly to a secondary Exchange server if a full failover is required.

Since installing the software the company has gone without server interruptions even when maintenance or patching was required.

The Saks – at a glance

Business: Handbag Manufacturer
Three offices, in San Francisco, New York and Bali
Production in Indonesia and China
Sells to department stores globally – 150+ in Europe – as well as online
70 permanent staff, 80 desktops principally running Windows XP SP2
IT department: three permanent staff, three contractors and one external software programmer
About 20 other servers mainly running Microsoft Windows Server 2003
HP network switches, Cisco firewalls and routers
Other key applications: Oracle PeopleSoft and Cognos Business Intelligence

“Neverfail is what keeps our orders coming in," said Bolton. "I can do server maintenance or patches and the systems remain seamless to the end user. I can even reboot the main server and keep things going smoothly, which I had to do on one occasion when our CPU was running slowly while dealing with a big influx of spam.”

He said the only challenge posed by the installation lay in integrating the system with McAfee’s anti-virus suite, which had initially caused some compatibility issues.

The firm’s email exchange server is based in New York, where its sales, design and production units also operate. Its headquarters are in San Francisco and it has a third office in Bali. It has a total of 20 servers, predominantly running on Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Bolton said the firm was now evaluating whether to roll out Neverfail’s protective software to boost its internet security and continuity online.

He said The Sak’s next substantial IT project would be to improve its collaborative intranet.

“I’d like to roll out Microsoft SharePoint services. Our intranet is very focused around collaboration but we want to increase this so that we can share documents and ideas more easily.”

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