A company regarded more often as an icon than anything else, in the world of business Quiksilver has carved an undisputed position of global leadership in the design, production, and distribution of clothing, accessories and related products “for young-minded people”.
Yet, while the name may conjure images of lifestyles far removed from the stress and seriousness of the weekday drudgery, when it comes to IT management there’s a commitment to excellence that underpins the highest levels of business efficiency and undisputed customer loyalty.
So, when it came time to select a systems monitoring and management solution for Quiksilver International’s IBM i-based Infor M3 ERP software, it was Halcyon that emerged the clear winner.
Following extensive consideration of potential solutions conducted by an external consultant, Quiksilver was handed a short-list of three alternatives: a third-party product, the in-built systems management on IBM i, and Systems Operations Suite (Level 2) from Halcyon.
According to Quiksilver Business Systems Analyst and IBM i Administrator Peter Small, a major factor in the Halcyon solution being one of the final three was its reputation for reliability and effectiveness within the M3 community.
“It was important to us that the solution we chose had already proven to be highly successful in other M3 implementations,” says Peter. “Halcyon’s Systems Operations Suite is well up there in that regard.”
Easy Installation, Easy Management
Following selection of Systems Management Suite, it became even more apparent to Small that the decision had been the right one. Instead of dealing with numerous Halcyon representatives—sales people, account managers, and engineers—it was a single Halcyon team member who took responsibility of the entire process from initial consultation through to implementation and, in many cases, post-implementation support.
“That meant we weren’t in the position of having to bring new people up to speed with our requirements and business,” Small explains. “This really came to bear during the setup.”
During the implementation, Small was given hands-on training of the new solution, although he believes that the system is so intuitive that anyone who has IBM i experience is 99 percent of the way there already. “Even without IBM i experience, you could pick it up in only a few hours,” he says.
Saving Time and Effort
One of the distinct advantages of Systems Operations Suite is the ease with which monitoring can be configured and activated. Small talks of one particular set of 30 filters he created to monitor 30 separate M3 job queues.
“A typical problem with job queues is that if there’s a problem that results in a hold-up of the job, the initiating user quite often isn’t aware of it until hours, days, or even weeks later,” Small explains.
Using one of the many templates supplied with Systems Operations Suite, Small was able to create all three filters per job queue within an hour. “And that was actually an exception to the rule,” he adds. “Generally, when I need to create a new filter and alert, it takes me only a few minutes.”
As a direct result of the Halcyon implementation, significant time and workload savings are being gained throughout the Quiksilver organization—from Small through to the help desk and on to the users themselves.
At the help desk, there has been a massive 80 percent drop in calls related to IBM i performance. What about the remaining 20 percent?
Small says: “Sometimes, regardless of how early we get an alert from Systems Operations Suite, it’s almost impossible to resolve an issue before the users notice. In those cases, though, by the time the user logs the call, someone has already been alerted and is working on a fix.”
It’s the Proactive Approach
The one person bearing final responsibility for Quiksilver’s IT infrastructure is IT Manager, Thomas Zulliger. “We’re an organisation that prides itself on having highly efficient IT that supports our business operations,” he says.
“The IBM i and Infor M3 system is one of our most critical, which is precisely why when it came to selecting a systems monitoring solution Halcyon was the logical choice. What it gives Peter [Small] and our IT administration team is a tool that enables a totally proactive approach to IBM i administration.
“In the vast majority of cases, our users are totally unaware of any problems that may be occurring on IBM i,” Zulliger continues. “That’s because well before an issue, such as CPU overutilization, disk space limits, or a job queue threshold violation actually becomes a problem, Systems Operations Suite has already sent out an alert via email or SMS and Peter or another team member has attended to it.”
The Support Element
The ultimate effectiveness of a systems management solution relies on much more than the software itself. Playing an equally important role is the level of support provided by the solution’s vendor. In commenting on the support Quiksilver has received from Halcyon, Small responds initially with a single word: “Fantastic!”
“Every time, without exception, that I’ve needed to speak to someone about either a problem or configuration question, I’ve been able to get right through and have a response almost immediately,” Small continues. “Would I recommend Halcyon Systems Operations Suite to any other IBM i system administrator? Without reservation!”