Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Gary Kaiser, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz

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
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.