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Case study

Customer Success Story: Akzo Nobel Industrial

Akzo Nobel Industrial minimizes disruption to sales and distribution by reducing system recovery time to 10 minutes.

Business Impact Summary

Akzo Nobel is one of the world's leading paint companies. For more than 200 years, the Netherlands-owned company has supplied coatings to customers including auto manufacturers, the marine industry and furniture designers.

Akzo Nobel Industrial's priority is to expand its market share in key sectors such as specialist, transportation and industrial finishes. To meet these goals, the company needs to be able to respond quickly to customer queries and safeguard the performance of core business systems that support manufacturing and sales processes.

Deploy a Recovery Management solution to ensure that email is highly available. The solution has reduced system recovery time from two days to under 10 minutes.

By improving business continuity, Akzo Nobel Industrial has been able to significantly reduce risk, which aids compliance with Sarbanes Oxley. It can also provide a faster response to customer queries, minimize disruption to manufacturing processes and improve cost control.

Business: Painting the world's houses and cars

For over 200 years, Akzo Nobel has provided industrial and domestic customers with a range of coating products - from car finishes to tins of emulsion paint for houses. Today, Akzo Nobel is a global giant, with operations in more than 60 countries providing coatings, chemicals, and human and animal healthcare products. The coatings group employs 30,000 people and is committed to innovation to help maintain the company's competitive advantage. Akzo Nobel is in the top three coating providers in all its markets, thanks to world-class products and high-quality customer service.

Challenge: Maintaining a continuous service to customers

Akzo Nobel Industrial wants to be a market leader in every sector where it does business. "In Turkey, the priority is to grow the business in transportation, wood and industrial coatings," explains Gökhan Özçagıran, Assistant Manager of ICT Services, Akzo Nobel Industrial and Automotive Coatings. However, the coatings market in Turkey is extremely competitive, and customers demand fast access to information and products. To respond to customer queries, the company's Microsoft Exchange email server must be reliable and always accessible to all staff. With nine offices and an increasing number of mobile workers, this isn't always easy.
In September 2006, Akzo Nobel Industrial's Exchange server crashed following a hardware failure. Although the company had back-up files, these were stored in tape libraries, and access proved slow and frustrating, says Özçagıran. "When our systems failed, recovery was a very difficult and a slow process. Eventually it took over two days to get all of our systems back up and running from the tape library."
Losing access to key data for any prolonged period is potentially very costly to Akzo Nobel Industrial. "Having access to real-time information enables us to plan distribution schedules and material consumption," explains Özçagıran. "Without this data, we basically lose most of our flexibility and ability to plan ahead."

Solution: A proactive approach to disaster recovery

To address this challenge, Akzo Nobel Industrial needed an alternative back-up solution to its tape library, which had proved slow and unreliable. As part of a wider business continuity plan, Akzo Nobel Industrial had already invested in additional back-up servers, but needed a way to monitor the performance of the main host servers for its Exchange system. Additionally, the company needed to reduce back-up and restore times so that systems could be recovered in less than two hours, "That's the time we estimated we could manage before any failure begins to impact on our efficiency and expenditure," says Özçagıran.
The new solution is founded on a CA Recovery Management solution, which monitors the availability of Akzo Nobel Industrial's email server - a core business system for the company. The CA XOsoft WANSync solution allows IT staff to create scenarios based on business requirements, which control how the software reacts to changes in the IT infrastructure. "For example, we can specify that if a connection to a server fails, business operations should be transferred to the appropriate back-up server and support staff alerted," says Özçagıran. "If there is a problem, the CA Recovery Management Solution will automatically make the switch to the back-up device."
Once a problem has been identified and resolved, the synchronisation functionality of the CA Recovery Management solution allows IT staff to easily transfer network traffic back to the main host server without any downtime. Configuring the solution to meet the needs of the business was made easier thanks to Akzo Nobel Industrial's IT partner Ege Bimtes, Izmir. "Working with a CA partner that could demonstrate and configure the scenarios meant we were able to deploy the solution in just two weeks," adds Özçagıran.

Results: Minimizing impact of downtime on efficiency and customers

The most impressive benefit of the CA Recovery Management solution for Akzo Nobel Industrial is that business risk has been significantly reduced. The chances of downtime are considerably lower because the CA solution is monitoring system performance at all times. When downtime does happen, recovery is faster and can take less than 10 minutes. "We haven't had any major incidents since deploying the solution, but we have had three instances where we moved to back-up servers, all of which took less than an hour," says Özçagıran.
This benefits the rest of the business, as Akzo Nobel Industrial and Automotive Coatings can:
• Provide a faster response to customer queries
• Minimize disruption to sales, its production line and distribution schedules
• Protect its profitability by limiting the financial impact of any downtime

In addition, the CA solution automates many of the routine tasks associated with systems monitoring, allowing IT staff to spend more time working on new projects to help the business achieve its goals. "Staff used to check the Exchange server once or twice an hour, to make sure it was running OK, but now they check perhaps once or twice a day," says Özçagıran. "With the CA Recovery Management solution, we've increased systems availability and can now meet more stringent internal service level agreements, which aids business performance."
The CA solution has also helped Akzo Nobel Industrial comply with important regulations and quality standards. As part of a multi-national corporation, Akzo Nobel Industrial is subject to regular Sarbanes-Oxley audits. "Part of the Sarbanes-Oxley requirement is that we have an effective disaster recovery plan in place," says Özçagıran. "With CA XOsoft, we more than meet requirements."


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