Click here to close now.



Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Blue Box Blog, Elizabeth White, David Bermingham, Nicholas Lee, Martin Etmajer

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Linux.SYS-CON.com Case Study: OSAS and Red Hat

Fertilizing RSA MicroTech's Growth

RSA MicroTech produces and distributes industrial fertilizer products to coast-to-coast wholesalers from four production facilities connected through their headquarters in Marysville, Washington. Orders range from a few hundred up to tens of thousands of dollars and total between $12 million and $15 million in annual sales. Along with managing inventory for the on-demand orders that can comprise up to half of all the orders it gets, RSA MicroTech must also meet complicated reporting requirements that differ for each state in which it sells. Although RSA MicroTech used Open Systems Accounting Software (OSAS) for some time, it used an older version that didn't have the enhancements that simplify workflow. And there was little connectivity between production facilities and the company's headquarters, making things inefficient and cumbersome. There had to be a better way.

The Problem

RSA MicroTech used OSAS at its home office and at one of its production facilities in Kansas to enter orders, manage inventory, and complete accounting. But since the home office wasn't directly connected to any of the production facilities, accessing and transferring data was difficult. "We would upload the data file from Kansas and the other facilities would dial in remotely," says Ralph Rogers, RSA's corporate controller. "It was cumbersome to get the data from Kansas and it was very slow for the remote users to pass all that data back and forth over the phone line."

Because of this limited connectivity, order processing was centralized at the home office. While adequate, this practice made fulfilling on-demand orders more difficult and delayed physical inventory processing. All procedures - such as filling orders or tracking down inventory issues - were initiated at the home office, slowing business.

RSA faced other difficulties meeting the reporting requirements for states in which they sold products. Many U.S. states require companies to report the amounts and types of fertilizer they sell in those states. And these requirements differ from state to state: one may require companies to break down the report by county, while others only want the state as a whole. And most states penalize companies if reports aren't made on time.

"In the past, someone had to go through all the invoices and figure out where products went," Rogers says. This task was more difficult because "although it's being billed from Iowa, the actual fertilizer may have been delivered to Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and so on." Each invoice would be scanned individually to determine where the goods went so that reports could be done as the law required.

The Solution

With help from TBC International (RSA MicroTech's OSAS reseller), Rogers upgraded OSAS and switched from Windows to Red Hat Enterprise 3.0 for the wide area connectivity needed. They then connected all branch facilities to the home office with a virtual private network (VPN) and terminal emulation software that lets employees access OSAS over the Internet with a permanent, secure live connection.

TBC helped RSA MicroTech modify OSAS to automate reporting. Says Rogers, "They set up reports to pull from the ship-to address instead of the bill-to address so we could report the correct information to the correct regulatory body."

Mike Scully, a TBC consultant, describes the modifications this way: "It used to be just weeks and weeks of work for people. Now, we've turned it directly into spreadsheets: push a button and boom, here's everything for this state, broken down by county or by whatever the requirements are. As a final step to ensure the new system would be successful, Rogers and TBC trained RSA MicroTech's personnel. Employees were brought in to the home office from field locations, production facilities, and warehouses for training, letting them to focus on the tasks at hand without distractions.

The Results

The wide area connectivity offered by Red Hat Linux has let RSA MicroTech disperse order processing back to its production facilities, streamlining business flow. "Now they do their own data entry, run their own variance reports, and can investigate variance when it occurs," Rogers says. "Inventory runs smoother because when something is out of line in inventory, they know about it first and can check it."

"Because sales representatives are always connected to all locations via the VPN, they can access information and check for item availability at other warehouses. Rogers says, "It's really about information access. If they want to know about a specific product in a specific warehouse, they don't have to stop, call here and have somebody check; they can just go find out for themselves."

Red Hat Linux has proven to be a better fit for how RSA MicroTech does business. "Performance-wise, when you compare OSAS on Linux to OSAS on Windows, it's an order-of-magnitude faster. It's no longer a network environment in terms of data sharing. Disk activity stays on the Linux box, increasing performance," Scully says. Red Hat Linux has also improved RSA MicroTech's bottom line by saving money. "We didn't have to invest heavily in T1 lines and stuff that causes infrastructure costs to go up. It's very cost-effective because we're paying for an Internet connection on one end and then there's no cost after that," Rogers says. "The machine didn't have to be as robust to process all the users who are on it now," he continues. "It's been very stable - it doesn't crash; it doesn't lock up. For the most part, we leave it back there and we really don't think about it too much."

Because of their OSAS modifications, RSA MicroTech also saves money by avoiding state-assessed penalties if reporting isn't completed on time. "Our ability to generate the information and provide it to the states in a timely manner has been a cost savings. It's allowed us to avoid penalties simply because we can collate the data and respond to their timeframe," Rogers says.

Training and working with OSAS daily has also made a difference for employees and has smoothed their workflow. Rogers says, "They have a better understanding of OSAS and can utilize the information better. They now understand that this negative number means that the product was pulled from the wrong code and they can investigate those things."

RSA MicroTech has found the recipe it needed for continued growth: knowledgeable, connected employees that use streamlined business practices to minimize costs and maximize profits - all made possible with OSAS and Red Hat.

More Stories By Ann Wickstrom

Ann Wickstrom is the communications specialist for Open Systems, Inc. She's worked for the company for 14 years. Her responsibilities include writing, desktop publishing, and maintaining the corporate Web site.

More Stories By Amy Dohlman

Amy Dohlman has worked as a technical writer since 1998 and has been with Open Systems for three years. She writes and revises Open Systems product documentation and assists with various marketing efforts.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
News Desk 10/21/05 10:33:38 PM EDT

LinuxWorld Case Study: OSAS and Red Hat. RSA MicroTech produces and distributes industrial fertilizer products to coast-to-coast wholesalers from four production facilities connected through their headquarters in Marysville, Washington. Orders range from a few hundred up to tens of thousands of dollars and total between $12 million and $15 million in annual sales.

@ThingsExpo Stories
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...