4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/7/2009
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Lion Nathan Australian Brewer Improves Reliability, Availability with Highly Available Messaging

Lion Nathan is a major producer, marketer, and distributor of premium alcoholic beverages in Australia and New Zealand. E-mail is critical to Lion Nathan’s operations, including the processing of orders received from many retail stores and pubs. To help ensure high availability of e-mail messaging, Lion Nathan has deployed a pilot of Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010, as a part of the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program. Lion Nathan expects that messaging enhancements will reduce storage requirements, resulting in a savings of AU$90,000 (U.S.$75,000). With the new messaging environment, Lion Nathan will be able to provide better site resiliency with higher availability, along with capabilities for employees to better manage and prioritize their communications.

 

Situation

Based in Sydney, Australia, Lion Nathan makes premium beers, wines, and spirits for the Australasian and international markets. The company has a brewing heritage that dates back to 1840. It employs about 3,400 employees and forms part of Lion Nathan National Foods Pty Ltd, which is the leading food and beverage company in Australia and New Zealand.

Lion Nathan depends on effective communication among customers, partners, and Lion Nathan employees. “E-mail is becoming a more important function within our business community,” says Brett Watkins, Systems Manager at Lion Nathan. Many orders received from customers come in through the e-mail environment. Watkins says, “It is very important that our e-mail servers are up. If an order is lost, then that can impact sales.” The business also depends on its employees to communicate effectively with external business partners, such as advertising agencies and IT providers. Minimizing e-mail downtime is critical for business success.

Lion Nathan depended on Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007 for its messaging requirements. The company had deployed Exchange Unified Messaging so that employees could receive e-mail and voice mail in a single inbox. Because the volume of e-mail had grown, the company wanted more cost-effective solutions for its e-mail storage and backups. Watkins says, “Our traditional way of backing up is using Symantec NetBackup to tapes. The tape is created every day and picked up in a daily run.”

The company had two locations with mailbox servers, with one in Australia and one in New Zealand. Lion Nathan also was building out its disaster recovery operations and needed to add the disaster recovery site as an additional location and include e-mail as a key part of managing potential failovers. Watkins says, “alternate site disaster recovery is not something we’ve traditionally had for e-mail.” The IT department also wanted to simplify its e-mail administration into more easily definable processes.

Solution

Lion Nathan chose to participate in the Rapid Deployment Program for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. In July 2009, Lion Nathan moved 300 mailboxes to Exchange Server 2010. It expects to have all 2,600 employee mailboxes live on three Exchange Server 2010 mailbox servers by December 2009. Lion Nathan was excited about several features in the new release. Watkins says, “One of our main goals with Exchange Server 2010 is to provide better site resiliency for a more highly available environment.” In addition to improving site resiliency with database availability group (DAG), Lion Nathan was excited about improved storage options, enhanced management capabilities, and improved user tools.

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* We will realize about a 60 percent cost savings associated with storage at our main data center. *
Brett Watkins
Systems Manager, Lion Nathan
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Using Exchange Server 2010, Lion Nathan will improve its failover process and ability to support its new disaster recovery center. The company is implementing database availability group (DAG), a new capability that combines on-site and off-site data replication into a single high availability solution that helps protect its Exchange environment from downtime.

With Exchange Server 2010, Lion Nathan changed its storage from fiber channel storage area network (SAN) to less expensive direct-attached storage (DAS). The company purchased HP StorageWorks 60 Modular Storage Array with 12-terabyte capacity, which provides room for significant growth. Lion Nathan is also deploying a pilot of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 to move to disk-based backups from its current tape-based backup solution.

Lion Nathan upgraded from Microsoft Forefront™ Security for Exchange Server to Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server. Forefront Protection 2010 security includes automatic content filter updates, specialized spam signature data, and access to the Microsoft IP Reputation Service, a real-time IP block list used by the Edge Transport server to block messages from known spammers. The automatic application of content and signature updates eases administration effort at Lion Nathan and also ensures that its employees receive the latest protection. Lion Nathan also takes advantage of enhanced support for Information Rights Management (IRM) in Exchange Server 2010 to help protect messages even after they have been sent.

Employees will also be able to take advantage of the ability in the new messaging solution to communicate with external partners. With the Federation feature, Lion Nathan will be able to share Exchange Server 2010 services, such as calendars, meeting resources, and distribution lists externally as though it belonged to the same organization.

Watkins compares the move to Exchange Server 2010 from Exchange Server 2007 to previous migrations: “It’s been a lot smoother from 2007 to 2010. The learning curve is a lot less steep.” To help with deployment, Lion Nation worked with JASCO Consulting, a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner certified to provide Exchange Deployment Planning Services. JASCO has assisted with the planning, design, and migration to the Exchange Server 2010 messaging environment. Watkins says, “They have been great. They played a key role with the coexistence testing and put together the upgrade test plans for each release during the project. A large number of features need to work together during the migration phase, such as Outlook® Web App, Exchange ActiveSync®, and Outlook Anywhere, so a solid plan and testing is critical to ensuring that the business is not impacted.”

Benefits

By deploying Exchange Server 2010, Lion Nathan has experienced a number of benefits from upgrading its current unified communications solution, including reduced storage costs, improved order fulfillment, decreased backup costs, reduced IT administration, and improved productivity.

Reduced Storage Costs

Lion Nathan recognized significant improvements in e-mail storage. “There was a 70 percent I/O [input/output] requirement drop from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2007, and then again from Exchange Server 2007 to Exchange Server 2010,” says Watkins. “When we migrated to Exchange Server 2007, we reduced our disk requirements to 24 disks as opposed to 50 with Exchange Server 2003. Now with this migration to Exchange Server 2010, instead of purchasing a row of T-1 storage disks that costs close to AU$40,000, we can purchase less expensive disks for AU$15,000. We will realize about a 60 percent cost savings associated with storage at our main data center.” Across three locations, including the new disaster recovery site, the company saved AU$90,000 (U.S.$75,000) with Exchange Server 2010 compared to what the storage costs would have been with Exchange Server 2007. 

Improved Availability

With several enhancements in Exchange Server 2010, Lion Nathan improved site resiliency and its ability to recover from e-mail outages. When corruption is caused by minor disk faults, Exchange Server 2010 automatically repairs the affected database pages using a copy of the database that is configured for high availability. When an entire drive fails, database-level failover makes it possible for Lion Nathan administrators to swap failed drives with minimal impact to users. Watkins says, “Because e-mail is such an important part of our business, the more redundancy and site resiliency we can build in, the better.” He continues, “With Exchange Server 2010, failover or switchover becomes an easily definable and executable process. Often the failover can be performed without users knowing that it occurred. We anticipate downtime to be much less likely with Exchange 2010.” E-mail availability is expected to go up from 99 percent to 99.9 percent.

Implementing DAG offers an improvement in high availability compared to cluster continuous replication (CCR) in Exchange Server 2007. Watkins says, “With DAG, we like the fact that the copy is kept at a geographically different location. I like the way we manage it compared to Exchange Server 2007. It is more flexible in the way you can configure it and the way that it fails over.” Watkins is also impressed with the Transport Shadow Copy capabilities whereby the Hub Transport server will maintain copies of e-mail messages until they are successfully received by the Mailbox server. “Let’s say you lose one of the servers that used to be a primary. The fact that it asks if it can resend all the mail to another server is great and prevents lost e-mail messages.”

Reduced e-mail downtime helps ensure that Lion Nathan receives and fills orders from its customers in a timely manner. Watkins says, “Many orders that we receive come in to an e-mail mailbox. It is very important that these e-mail servers are up. For example, we ship beverages to customers in the Australian Outback only once a week. If a lost e-mail message causes us to miss the weekly cutoff, this can lead to higher cost to send couriers to fulfill those orders.”

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* Data Protection Manager will allow us to back up to disk and replicate the data to our disaster recovery site, which satisfies our daily offsite backup requirements. *
Brett Watkins
Systems Manager, Lion Nathan
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Reduced Backup Costs

Lion Nathan expects that the move to disk-based backups from a tape-based e-mail archiving solution will save money and improve recovery times. Using System Center Data Protection Manager, Lion Nathan could reduce the dependency and cost associated with tape backups for e-mail and other systems. Watkins explains, “The daily tape pickups are a significant cost to us, as well as the storage of those tapes. Data Protection Manager will allow us to back up to disk and replicate the data to our disaster recovery site, which satisfies our daily offsite backup requirements. Then we would only need one tape backup run per week for our longer term off-site backup requirements, which would help reduce the total number of tapes required per week and deliver savings.” Lion Nathan estimates an 80 percent decrease in backup costs, which equals about AU$4,000 (U.S.$3,333) in annual savings. 

Reduced IT Administration

With Exchange Server 2010, Lion Nathan administrators can move mailboxes between databases without taking users offline. Employees are pleased because they can continue to send and receive e-mail, and IT appreciates the ability to perform moves during business hours. Watkins says, “It’s given me back my weekends. A mailbox move for an administrator is easy. You can keep an eye on it when you are at work and you don’t have to worry about it when you go home.”

The automatic application of content and signature updates also eases Lion Nathan’s administration effort and ensures that its employees receive the latest protection. Lion Nathan helps ensure that sensitive data remains confidential with the enhanced support for Information Rights Management in Microsoft Outlook Web App.

Improved Productivity

Lion Nathan employees will benefit from the improved capabilities of the new messaging environment. Watkins describes a situation where he has already benefitted from the improved interoperability of Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2. “The other week, I didn’t have my laptop at home, but I needed to check on an issue that had occurred in New Zealand. I logged into Outlook Web App on my home computer and could see the presence information of my colleagues in New Zealand. I was able to chat and get the status on the issue more efficiently than before Exchange Server 2010.”

With Federation, Lion Nathan employees can share calendars and presence information with external partners, which improves communications. The IT department is using this with its key IT consultants and partners to reduce the time spent playing phone tag and coordinating meetings. Employees in the marketing department will be able to save time and will be better able to meet key deadlines with their advertising agencies and marketing firms.

Lion Nathan has created a unified communications solution that it can use to improve the quality of communication for its employees, while reducing storage and backup costs.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
Exchange 2010 can help you achieve better business outcomes while controlling the costs of deployment, administration, and compliance. Exchange delivers the widest range of deployment options, integrated information leakage protection, and advanced compliance capabilities, that combine to form the best messaging and collaboration solution available.

For more information about Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, go to:
www.microsoft.com/exchange

For more information about Microsoft Unified Communications, go to:
www.microsoft.com/uc


For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about JASCO products and services visit the Web site at:
www.jasco.net.au

For more information about Lion Nathan visit the Web site at:
www.lion-nathan.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 3400 employees

Organization Profile

Lion Nathan is a producer, marketer, and distributor of premium alcoholic beverages in Australia and New Zealand. The company employs more than 3,400 people.


Business Situation

To support its business objectives and new disaster recovery center, Lion Nathan wanted to provide a highly available messaging environment at a lower cost and with easier administration.


Solution

Lion Nathan deployed Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010 to take advantage of improved high availability capabilities to reduce e-mail downtime and to save on storage costs.


Benefits
  • Reduced storage costs by AU$90,000 (U.S.$75,000)
  • Improved order fulfillment
  • Reduced backup costs by 80 percent
  • Reduced IT administration
  • Improved productivity

Software and Services
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007
  • Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 For Exchange Server

Vertical Industries
Consumer Goods

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
Unified Communications

IT Issue
Personal Productivity

Languages
English

Partner(s)
JASCO Consulting

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