Amway is a direct selling company with a global presence. Its server support teams wanted a better management solution for the company’s data center and web servers, which support its online retail business. The Desktop Engineering Team also
needed a management tool to support the company’s goals for a better managed desktop to optimize computing environments for employees under the company’s Next Generation Desktop Program. Amway chose Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to unify
IT administration across the enterprise’s 3,600 servers and 6,800 PCs. The Desktop Engineering Team is already using Configuration Manager to achieve a zero-touch global deployment of Windows 7. Server support teams will use Configuration Manager to ensure
a standard web server configuration that optimizes the Amway retail experience.
Founded in 1959, Amway offers consumer products and business opportunities through a network of more than 3 million independent business owners (IBOs) in more than 80 countries and territories around the world.
Amway North America serves IBOs in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and various trust territories and independent island nations in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and Caribbean Sea. Like all Amway affiliates, Amway North America supports IBOs with
a compensation plan; portfolios of quality products in health, beauty, and other consumer categories; and training.
“Amway North America generates nearly $1 billion dollars in revenue, and 85 percent of that goes through our e-commerce site, amway.com,” says Matt Behrens, Manager, Windows Server Support and Virtualization Technology at Amway.
Server Management Challenges
To support its business, the 14-member Windows Server Support Team maintains 3,600 servers running the Windows Server 2008 operating system at headquarters in Ada, Michigan, and at the Amway Information Technology Services (AITS) division in Malaysia. Approximately
67 percent of the servers are virtualized. The team uses a third-party server management tool that was included with the data center’s HP blade server infrastructure; however, IT staff members never fully adopted the tool because it wasn’t very intuitive.
The team relied on manual processes for server provisioning, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for distributing software updates, and Windows Deployment Services and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 for software deployments.
“We had no broad-based server management solution in place,” says Behrens. “In 10 years, we’ve seen a tenfold increase in the number of servers—3,600 servers and a poor management solution made it difficult to ensure that servers were configured to meet
||We use System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to transform how we configure and audit global e-commerce environments. Better management of revenue-generating technology is good for business.
| Matt Behrens
Manager, Windows Server Support and Virtualization Technology, Amway
The nine members of the WebTech Group, which maintains more than 600 servers in the company’s e-commerce environment, faced additional challenges. Part of their job is managing 30 servers that run Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0, a feature of Windows
Server 2008. These servers host the company’s critical e-commerce solutions that support online sales, product fulfillment, and business services for IBOs. They are located in different geographical locations and support global Amway affiliates.
The WebTech Group hired contractors to build and configure isolated servers or “sandboxes” for developers to test new updates before they went into production; these support resources added up to 1.5 full-time employees. The team wanted to automate the configuration
of sandboxes to reduce contractor costs. WebTech Group team members also struggled with using manual processes to build, configure, and audit e-commerce systems to make sure they stayed consistent.
“It could take a week to get a server production-ready, and all 30 servers have to be configured the same way to ensure a reliable, consistent web experience for Amway customers,” says Behrens. “It could be for a marketing campaign or a new version of a
tool to support IBOs, but when we install a service pack or deploy a new release, everything has to stay the same.”
Initial Success with Automated Processes
In 2010, Amway solved some of these issues when it deployed System Center Configuration Manager 2007 for the WebTech Team. The team used Configuration Manager 2007 to accelerate the deployment of new systems in the e-commerce environment, saving more than 3,000
hours in the first year. IT professionals also used it to automate the installation and configuration of developers’ sandboxes, reducing the need for contractor resources to five hours a week. When the team used Configuration Manager 2007 to deploy its first
web front end server it completed the project seven weeks ahead of schedule and saved $27,000 in contractor costs.
“We were so excited about what this technology had done for the WebTech Team that Matt and I decided to go to the Microsoft Management Summit [MMS] in Las Vegas in 2008 to learn about the latest version of Configuration Manager and see if would be useful
for the Windows Server Support Team,” says Trey Bruneau, Senior System Support Specialist, Windows Server Support at Amway.
Goals for Desktop Management
Amway was also in the process of launching its Next Generation Desktop Program, which represented a holistic change in the way that Amway manages business computing. The program included an enterprisewide upgrade of all 6,800 PCs to the Windows 7 Enterprise
operating system and to Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 business productivity software. Amway did not have a formal desktop operating system deployment process; new PCs were acquired with the latest operating system and delivered individually to employees
as needed. Part of the rationale for the Next Generation Desktop Program was to standardize the desktop to simplify management, improve software inventory tracking, and deliver the most productive computing environment to employees.
“The Desktop Engineering Team wanted to support this move by replacing the third-party solution it used for remote control and inventory management with a more robust desktop management tool,” says Bruneau. “There were complaints that the tool drained computing
power on the PCs, as did the antivirus solution that the desktop team used. We promised to report back to the desktop team from MMS about how we thought Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager would contribute to their program.”
The Amway Windows Server Support Team returned from the MMS summit impressed with what they saw. System Center 2012 Configuration Manager consolidates all desktop and server management tasks across mobile, physical, and virtual environments and would
help simplify IT administration for both server and desktop teams. As with its predecessor, Configuration Manager agent software is installed on the company’s PCs, laptops, servers, and mobile devices so that administrators can manage them through a single
management console. With one tool, Amway can unify IT management tasks across the enterprise. “At Amway, we like to be ‘fast followers’ of Microsoft technology. As we were looking to deploy a global management solution, it made sense to go with the latest
platform with all the improvements,” says Behrens.
||In 10 years, we’ve seen a tenfold increase in the number of servers—3,600 servers and a poor management solution made it difficult to ensure that servers were configured to meet business needs.
| Matt Behrens
Manager, Windows Server Support and Virtualization Technology, Amway
Amway acquired System Center 2012 Configuration Manager through the Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter for server management. Client Management Licenses (MLs) are required for managed devices that run non-server operating system environments,
so Amway added the System Center 2012 Client Management Suite Client ML. “The way we licensed the product is very cost-effective. We get an unlimited number of server operating system environments,” says Behrens. “It also includes the other three components
of the System Center 2012 Client Management Suite.” These components are: Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Orchestrator.
“Operations Manager is next in line,” says Behrens. “We see the value of using all products together to maximize the interoperability of these tools. We are thinking about using Virtual Machine Manager for self-service provisioning of virtual machines in
our data center and the WebTech Team will be excited about using Orchestrator to automate best practices in the e-commerce environments.”
In November 2011, Amway joined the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Community Evaluation Program (CEP) for Production Support. “We were excited about the potential of Configuration Manager, so we were eager to deploy the product in production,” says
Bruneau. “We also liked that the CEP program entitles us to an upgrade to the release-to-manufacturing version when it comes out.”
New Features Attract Server Management Teams
The WebTech Team appreciated the computer compliance and remediation capabilities within System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. The product provides a new, built-in role called Compliance Settings Manager that Amway server administrators can use to manage
and deploy configuration baselines and view compliance results. And with IT-defined automated remediation in Configuration Manager, administrators can specify which changes in a baseline configuration should be detected and automatically reset to the desired
configuration to ensure system compliance.
IT staff also saw the potential to enhance security by improving control over administration rights across the organization with the new roles-based administration in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. Roles-based administration uses security roles
to assign typical administrative tasks to particular administrators in a way that reflects the organization’s data security requirements.
IT staff are interested in evaluating how they can use System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection to manage server and desktop security and compliance from within the Configuration Manager console. “Because Endpoint Protection is integrated with Configuration
Manager, it’s easy to configure malware alerts to notify us when Endpoint Protection detects malware on our managed endpoints,” says Bruneau.
Expected Contributions to Desktop Management Project
The Desktop Engineering Team wanted Configuration Manager for application management, operating system deployment, software updates, software inventorying and reporting, and endpoint management—all aspects of a more managed desktop endorsed by the Next Generation
Desktop Program. But the team was also interested in the Configuration Manager Application Catalog, a website where employees can browse for and request software. “This makes it easy for people to find software that they need, rather than requiring a lab administrator
to set up a remote session or manually deploy the software,” says Behrens.
Because of the Next Generation Desktop Program, Amway decided to deploy System Center 2012 Configuration Manager first to the desktop. Beginning in March 2012, the Desktop Engineering Team used the agent push method and took a “wave” approach based on predefined
collections of computers that share common criteria, which will make it easy to perform different management tasks according to Amway organizational structure and business requirements. The client push method of deployment can only be used on computers that
have been discovered by System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. To date, the client has been installed on 3,746 PCs.
||By using Configuration Manager, we are empowered to ensure Amway retail sites are working to the same high standard, selling more products and providing better service. That’s a huge benefit.
| Matt Behrens
Manager, Windows Server Support and Virtualization Technology, Amway
Amway is using the same method to deploy the agent to both physical and virtual servers. “Once we get the RTM code into production, we will change gears, and the Windows Server Support Team will ramp up, pushing the client to all our servers to get everyone
in the same environment,” says Bruneau. “Outside of the e-commerce environment, we have installed the client on 800 virtual and 90 physical servers to date.”
Even though Amway is in the middle of deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, IT staff members can already see the benefits of the new, centralized solution for server and desktop management tasks—with clear implications for the business.
With the new solution in the hands of the WebTech Team, Amway can expect even more streamlined, efficient administration of its e-commerce environment that generates the majority of revenue for the company. “We use System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
to transform how we configure and audit global e-commerce environments,” says Behrens. “Better management of revenue-generating technology is good for business.”
The Windows Server Support Team members are beginning to use Configuration Manager in the data center to automate manual administration processes to serve the business better. The Desktop Engineering Team is already using the new solution for core desktop
management tasks, such as operating system deployment, application management, and software inventory, to help realize the goals for the Next Generation Desktop Program.
Unifies IT Management Infrastructure
Amway IT staff simplified the Configuration Manager hierarchy within the e-commerce environments to unify the IT management infrastructure. Previously, with Configuration Manager 2007, there was a primary site for each e-commerce environment, but today, these
sites have been combined into one.
Both server and desktop management teams are replacing disparate tools with Configuration Manager to unify client management processes across the enterprise. Now Amway can save IT labor time and costs while streamlining operations and gaining better insight
into global software and hardware inventories. “As I am responsible for security updates for all the member servers in North America, I’ll be using Configuration Manager to replace multiple consoles,” says Bruneau. “All security information will be available
to me in one place, so when Matt asks me for a status report, I’ll no longer have to pull and consolidate data to get the information.”
IT staff members can also reduce management complexity when they use the single, integrated platform for managing client security and compliance that comes with System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection. “I think this is a great solution,” says Bruneau. “We
can retire the resource-intensive, antivirus product we had before and replace it with a minimal scanning presence on computers that doesn’t affect performance. And it’s really easy to configure malware alerts to notify you when Endpoint Protection detects
malware on computers.”
By using Endpoint Protection, IT staff can also choose how to deliver antivirus signature updates to managed computers—through Configuration Manager, directly from Microsoft, or delivered over the Internet using WSUS. There are more update delivery options
than they had with their previous antivirus tool.
Amway expects to enhance corporate network security by using roles-based administration within Configuration Manager. When Amway completes its deployment of Configuration Manager, teams from around the world on both the server and desktop side will be using
it. “It’s great that we can streamline IT management tasks and replace third-party management tools with a single management solution,” says Bruneau. “With so many people using a tool that will eventually reach every PC and server in the company, we can be
sure that as we describe new collections of managed computers, we can use the roles-based administration to ensure that administrators only see what they need to see. We no longer have to worry about that scenario where someone clicks on the ‘All Systems’
collection and initiates an operating system deploy that wipes out the entire environment.”
And on the desktop, Endpoint Protection has already detected viruses that were missed by the company’s previous antivirus solution. “When we pushed out the Endpoint Protection agent to computers in Asia, within the first 20 seconds, the agent picked up a
virus from Facebook,” says Bruneau. “We have no idea how long it had been there, but it was great that we could report it and remove it right away.”
Simplifies IT Administration
Amway management teams are more efficient and productive now that they are using Configuration Manager. Staff members describe the Configuration Manager console user interface as “fantastic” with simple, clear navigation based on functional roles, which are
clearly laid out—particularly the reporting, software updates, and operating system deployment roles.
The Desktop Engineering Team uses Configuration Manager to deploy Windows 7 globally to deliver a better computing environment to users as part of the Next Generation Desktop Program. “For the first time in our history, we are achieving a true ‘zero touch’
deployment, and that’s thanks to Configuration Manager,” says Bruneau. “Based on our client collections, we are targeting departments and asking users to leave their machines on Friday night. When they return to work on Monday morning, their desktop is ready
The WebTech Team will use Compliance Settings Manager and automated remediation capabilities to maintain identical e-commerce environments. Administrators can set a configuration baseline for each IIS server and specify a compliance threshold. If the server
no longer complies with a predefined compliance threshold, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager generates an alert to notify the WebTech Team. “With our web servers, we don’t take any chances when it comes to mixed configurations,” says Behrens. “And with
auto remediation, we no longer have to write scripts to correct things if a server drifts from the norm. By using Configuration Manager, we are empowered to ensure Amway retail sites are working to the same high standard, selling more products and providing
better service. That’s a huge benefit.”
Microsoft System Center 2012
Microsoft System Center 2012 helps your organization achieve IT as a service by enabling productive infrastructure, predictable applications, and cloud computing on your terms. With System Center 2012, use a self-service model to deliver flexible and cost-effective
private cloud infrastructure to your business units while capitalizing on existing data center investments. Applications run your business, so System Center 2012 is designed to offer deep application insight combined with a service-centric approach to help
you deliver predictable application services. Finally, by using System Center 2012, you can deliver and consume private and public cloud computing on your terms, with common management experiences across both.
For more information about Microsoft System Center 2012, go to:
For More Information
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