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Wakefield Canada Gets Ready For The Cloud

From the experts | Posted on October 9, 2012 by Lesley Morris

Wakefield Canada is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Castrol premium lubricants and Canada’s premier integrated manufacturer and distributor of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) under the brand name H2Blu. With a broad customer base across Canada, including retailers, warehouse distributors, quick lubes, fleet companies, new car dealers and Original Equipment Manufacturers, Wakefield prides itself on delivering intuitive customer service.

Wakefield has been on Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies and Top 50 Best Employer lists for the past three years, and has received a Microsoft Pinnacle Award for its technology successes.

In 2010, Wakefield Canada acquired Castrol’s Canadian manufacturing operations, becoming responsible for the blending and packaging of Castrol products in the Canadian marketplace, in addition to its sales, marketing and distribution operations.

As part of the agreement to purchase the processing facility, Wakefield Canada was required to transition manufacturing operations within a few months, so the company was faced with the challenge of implementing major operational changes in a very short time frame.

Starting from a Greenfield

One of the biggest challenges to transitioning the company to the new operation was the technology infrastructure, in place since Wakefield was founded in 2005. It was already showing signs of strain supporting existing operations; Kent Mills, Wakefield Canada’s CIO, saw an opportunity to transition to a greenfield environment and implement completely new next generation data center technologies that could support and grow with the company.

He started a search for a partner that shared the same dedication to customer service as Wakefield’s and also had the expertise to implement and manage the project within an aggressive timeframe. After a comprehensive search, he chose UNIS LUMIN (later acquired by Softchoice) based on its expertise around data center implementations, and its focus on working closely with Wakefield to understand its business objectives and how they related to the IT infrastructure.

Kent Mills said “Softchoice was absolutely the gold standard in partners. They are definitely one of the best partners I’ve ever worked with in my twenty-five years of IT management. They simplified the whole landscape for us by being the primary point of contact between multiple vendors for design, support and service, and they maintained a strong proactive relationship with us throughout the project.”

First Steps

Initially, Softchoice worked closely with Wakefield’s team to understand the company’s business goals and strategies. They quickly assembled resources to develop recommendations and built an  implementation timeline.

Wakefield Canada gets ready for the cloud

One of the key considerations was Wakefield’s request that the new architecture simplify management of the environment. Keeping this in mind, Softchoice recommended deploying an integrated cloud approach, using Cisco UCS, Cisco UCS Manager, NetApp storage, and VMware’s vSphere.

High performance provides a competitive edge

The resulting private cloud ready infrastructure was implemented on time and now underpins all of Wakefield’s operations. It substantially increases the efficiency of both capital and operational expenditures and provides a more standardized and integrated environment to manage than before.

As Wakefield continues to grow, it will see even more benefits from the new architecture, as it scales easily as more resources and applications are added or changed. Wakefield also gains the benefits of improved recovery processes, so business interruptions are minimized, ensuring the company continues to meet business goals, reducing any impact on customer service.

“I think the strategic advantage of this platform is all about flexibility, scalability and a smaller overall footprint” said Mills, “The infrastructure has built-in redundancy and failover which provides a critical advantage for small or medium size businesses that want to maintain a stable and reliable environment to support customer and partner transactions, while seamlessly enabling business growth.”

Next steps

Wakefield continues to work closely with Softchoice, taking advantage of its Keystone Solutions to manage the support and on-going health of the infrastructure. Softchoice’s Keystone Technical Support Centre (KTSC) serves as the first point of contact for Day II support of multiple vendors in the new data centre, including Cisco, NetApp, VMware, and APC. The simplicity of one number to call and one organization facilitating support complements the overall solution, delivering end-to-end efficiencies for Wakefield Canada.

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