4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/3/2010
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Österreichische Post AG Postal Company Gains Flexibility and Expands Services with a Service-Oriented Architecture

Österreichische Post AG (Austrian Post) is Austria’s leading provider of postal and logistics services. When the company’s computing technologies began to hinder its efficiency and growth, Austrian Post decided to implement a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Built with the Microsoft Application Platform, the new solution replaces Oracle and MySQL database software but uses other existing components, new applications, and systems from external parties. With its SOA, Austrian Post has reduced the time required to connect to disparate systems from weeks to hours, increased employee productivity, cut IT and operational costs, and realized a return on investment (ROI) in three years.

Mission-Critical Systems
Employees and third-party vendors who work with Austrian Post depend on the company’s mission-critical applications to facilitate services, including the shipment of 50 million packages each year. Any downtime essentially halts operations.

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* The rapid integration of new customers and products facilitated by the Microsoft Application Platform saves time and money. What used to take days and sometimes weeks can now be done in a matter of hours. We are also better able to measure quality and optimize our production processes.  *

Ewald Baumann
Head of Information Technology
Österreichische Post AG

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Solution Overview

The company’s existing IT infrastructure included custom business applications and software from Oracle and Sun Microsystems. Overall, the infrastructure was difficult to modify and expensive to maintain. To help promote efficiency, facilitate growth, and reduce costs, Austrian Post decided to implement a SOA built with the Microsoft Application Platform.

Between 2006 and 2008, the company worked with Microsoft Services to design and deploy a SOA that facilitates workflow and communication between employees, business partners, and customers. The new solution makes use of some existing applications and replaces others including Oracle and MySQL database software. Key components of the SOA include:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition data management software. Stores approximately 4 terabytes of corporate data.
  • The Windows Server 2008 operating system. Provides the foundation software for the SOA.
  • Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 R2. Facilitates secure and reliable communication between 30 internal and external systems. Helps to automate business processes such as the delivery of parcels to the sorting machine and to delivery cars.
  • The Microsoft BizTalk Adapters. Provide off-the-shelf connectivity to disparate systems through protocols such as FTP and SMTP.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition development system. Gives developers an integrated tool set for rapidly customizing the SOA and building applications.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server. Simplifies collaboration between development team members.
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Supports a corporate intranet and customer portals.

In the near future, Austrian Post plans to upgrade its architecture to include Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009.

Business Pain Points Addressed
Austrian Post needed to increase its operational transparency, efficiency, and flexibility. Its branch offices and sorting and distribution centers could not easily share information about mail items such as their location or expected delivery date. As a result, facilities that process and deliver mail could not anticipate changes in volume or plan for deliveries—and this resulted in delays and reliability issues. The lack of insight into the supply chain also impeded customer service, slowed time-to-market, restricted expansion to new regions, and increased costs. With its SOA built on the Microsoft Application Platform, the company has been able to:

  • Guarantee time of delivery.
  • Boost service levels by giving employees and all business customers real-time insight into the supply chain through portals and reports.
  • Record time-of-delivery for packages and notify authorized parties with a text message.
  • Provide value-added services that differentiate Austrian Post from competitors, such as the ability for a recipient to change the delivery address even if the package is in transit.
  • Collect and share additional information about shipments—for example, the exact delivery time, shipment costs, approximate location of the package during the delivery process, and the temperature of a package throughout its journey.
  • Simplify and automate processes such as delivering parcels to the sorting machine and notifying applications, including financial systems, of package delivery.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Facilitate agility and expansion of services to additional countries.
  • Provide a complete ROI in just three years.
Technical Pain Points Addressed
Every day, Austrian Post exchanges thousands of packages with third-party companies that help deliver parcels to international locations. In the past, sharing business data electronically with new vendors was not easy or cost-effective because it required significant effort by developers. Updating the infrastructure to support new products, service offerings, or automated processes was also complicated and expensive. Another concern involved availability. With growing transaction volumes and an increasing dependence on IT to meet customer expectations, the company needed its systems operating consistently around the clock, even during peak times. With the Microsoft Application Platform, Austrian Post has been able to:

  • Reduce the time required to connect to third-party systems from days or weeks to hours.
  • Process millions of transactions a day.
  • Maintain high availability.
  • Increase IT agility with integrated applications and easy-to-use development tools.
  • Simplify scalability and interoperability with disparate technologies.
  • Cut software licensing and hardware costs.
  • Minimize development expenses through increased efficiency and availability of skilled IT employees.

Top Reasons Why Österreichische Post AG Chose Microsoft
The company built its mission-critical SOA on the Microsoft Application Platform because:

  1. It delivers the reliability and flexibility that the company requires to interoperate with disparate third-party systems.
  2. Microsoft provides integrated development tools and built-in adapters for BizTalk Server to accelerate development and interoperability with third-party systems.
  3. Developers can easily modify and scale it to facilitate innovation.
  4. With it, the company could realize a complete ROI in just three years.
  5. It offers competitive performance.

Conclusion
Rather than struggling to work around the restrictions imposed by its previous IT systems, Austrian Post took advantage of the Microsoft Application Platform to develop a mission-critical SOA. With it, the company has been able to differentiate itself by streamlining operations and quickly implementing innovative ideas.

For More Information
Österreichische Post AG (Austrian Post)
Vienna, Austria
Phone: (43) 577 67-0
www.post.at  

Microsoft Corporation
Redmond, Washington
United States
Phone: (800) 426-9400
www.microsoft.com  

© 2010 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
This document is for information purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 26000 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, Österreichische Post AG (Austrian Post) provides postal services to residents in Austria and eight other European countries. Not only does the company deliver letters and packages, but it also distributes newspapers and advertising. The company also offers financial services at some branch locations through its partner BAWAG P.S.K. In 2009, it employed 26,000 people and earned €2.4 billion (U.S.$3.1 billion) in revenue.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Microsoft Biztalk Server 2006 R2
  • Microsoft Biztalk Adapters
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • BMC - Business Intelligence

Vertical Industries
Postal Agencies

Country/Region
Austria

Business Need
  • Data Management
  • Business Critical
  • Mission Critical

IT Issue
  • Data Warehousing
  • High Availability

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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