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BOCM Pauls Case Study

The Challenge

As United Kingdom’s leading animal feed manufacturer, BOCM PAULS operates 11 mills and seven plants across the UK. While highly successful both in the UK and with international customers, BOCM Paul’s IT systems did not keep up with its advanced business achievements.

Two legacy DEC Alpha servers 400 4/166 were running the mission critical feed production mill. One server was configured as the master and in case of failure, clients could manually failover to the second backup server. The systems were slow and suffered from limited internal storage and upgrade potential.  Additional challenges were spare parts, which could not be guaranteed for the long term, and a problematic disaster recovery plan. Considering all the above, it was clear to BOCM Pauls that a change was needed to prevent an IT disaster.

The Solution

With ICC being BOCM Pauls’ hardware and services supplier for 3 years, it was natural for us to handle the upgrade project.  Cooperating with BOCM’s software applications engineer, we came up with a plan to replace the existing hardware with a more recent DEC legacy system for improved system performance, reliability, and lifespan.

Proof of concept

The first step was a proof of concept, which was carried out at our office by our staff and BOCM’s application engineer. This involved two AlphaServer DS10 systems connected to storage shelves via a HSG80 disk controller. Disks sets were made up of all mirror sets to provide hot swap capability.

Failover

BOCM settled for a manual failover, as in their original configuration, since a cluster license that could have enabled an auto-failover was prohibitively expensive. One DS10 server therefore functions as the live system and the other is the standby system. Still, we did manage to reduce the failover time by 30% down to 60 minutes, using a different disk shelves configuration.

Go live

Once systems were thoroughly tested, the project was signed off by BOCM and both systems and all storage shelves were installed on site in a custom made cab (due to space restrictions).

  • All new hardware are connected to a UPS with 40 minute uptime if power is lost.
  • New systems were left to run offline for approximately 4 weeks before go live date (to acclimatise to new environment)
  • Go live was completed seamlessly within a 48-hour time window

The Result

Benefits

Since the new system was introduced it has performed without any problems, providing BOCM  Pauls with the following benefits:

  • Increased performance and system reliability.
  • Spares availability for the next 5 to 7 years
  • Increased storage capability for future storage needs
  • Improved disaster recovery with a 30% time reduction compared to previous setup

Additionally, ICC now provide an onsite 24/7/365 maintenance contract covering all parts and labour.

Case Study Outline

Challenges

  • Old DEC Alpha Servers running mission critical operations
  • Limited upgrade path and availability of spare parts
  • Problematic disaster recovery plan

Results

  • Increased performance and system reliability
  • Spares availability for the next 5 to 7 years
  • Increased storage capability
  • Improved disaster recovery

Information

BOCM PAULS, the United Kingdom’s leading livestock feed supplier, has now been re branded as ForFarmers, an internationally operating company active in the field of conventional and organic feed solutions for livestock. ForFarmers is European market leader in the animal feed sector, with an annual sales of approximately 9.1 million tons of feed.

ICC’s consulting and service has helped us extend the life of our legacy systems, improve their performance and gain peace of mind. David Stead, BOCM Pauls, July 2016
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