Case Study: Enterprise Apps at GIL
Gestetner's tryst with Citrix
Gestetner, an office automation major, has transformed its
entire IT set-up aiming at efficiency, bandwidth optimization and 'always-on'
connectivity. Citrix MetaFrame XP Presentation Server helps the company achieve
cost savings as much as Rs. 25 Lakh per annum. by Shipra Arora
Gestetner India Limited (GIL), is a leading
manufacturer of office automation equipment including digital printers and copiers,
copy printers and stencil duplicators. The Rs. 110 Crore company spread across
30 locations forayed into digital offerings during the year 1997, leading not
only to an expanded but also highly complicated product line.
These were configured products that offered
different combinations of configurations, upgrades, and functionality, and hence
the complications. During 1999, the company felt the need to rebuild its information
systems from the legacy batch data processing environment to a more agile online
connectivity. To cater to its growing business dimensions GIL decided that implementation
of ERP was the way forward.
For ERP the company decided to deploy MFG/Pro.
During implementation certain business challenges came to light. The ERP software
was bandwidth intensive, which prompted slow data transmission speeds. Gestetner
required high availability for all its information systems and thus expected
to be 'always on.' It further wanted to minimize pressure on IT staff by allowing
easy application deployment across all the locations.
The company opted for Citrix MetaFrame
XP Presentation Server to enable centralized application deployment and bandwidth
management. This helped minimize data transfer cost and maximize data transmission
speed. The company has mapped its ERP server (IBM Netfinity 7100) and mailing
server (IBM X235 Series) to the Citrix server (IBM X235 Series). The Citrix
implementation has helped GIL save nearly Rs. 25 Lakh per annum through control
on bandwidth, and reduction in communication costs. The solution also offers
ease of administration and real-time information access across the enterprise.
GIL has thus made a smooth transition to the online environment.
Centralized application deployment
The first phase of ERP implementation,
spanning February 1999 to June 1999 involved the implementation of the following
modules at the Delhi Head Office and Branch Office: Sales Order Processing,
Invoicing, Sales Analysis, Inventory Management, Purchasing, Accounts Payable,
Accounts Receivable, Forecasting/Planning, General Ledger, Multi-Currency, and
India Taxation Module.
The company, during this first phase, was
working on de-centralized systems with stand-alone databases spread across various
locations. There were disjointed systems and data was physically travelling
from different locations to the head office. Data from the branches moved to
the head office only in a text format. It was exported in file format and then
either couriered, or the attachment was uplinked. This was then imported into
the central database.
Exporting/importing almost 100 files everyday
was a nightmare for the company. This also brought the challenge of managing
the integrity and accuracy of data as some of the data got duplicated and lost
in the process. GIL faced the challenge to deploy and administer applications
including ERP and messaging at its geographically spread-out locations.
According to Manorama Nagarajan, General
Manager (Accounts & IT Systems), GIL, during this phase the company realized
that the de-centralized model would not work for the company. It needed a cost-effective
centralized administration solution to successfully run the applications in
"We wanted complete control over the data
and real-time availability of information so that there was no gap between the
time data is produced and made available for analysis. Real-time availability
of data was mandatory considering the growing importance of services in our
future strategy," said Nagarajan. Having decided to centralize the whole process,
there was a need for a system that would deploy and administer the applications
Even the transition to the online environment
was not very simple. This was because in the online environment the ERP software
consumed excessive bandwidth resulting in slow data transmission speeds. The
ERP required high bandwidth as everything was in graphics and pictures. The
same difficulty was experienced for simple messaging from one location to another
as the company had installed 'Lotus Domino' for its messaging needs.
GIL, on the other hand, wanted an 'always
on' set-up and 'high availability' for all its information systems. According
to B. Ramesh, Deputy Manager-IT, GIL, the company was going to have almost 30
users connecting simultaneously from outside at any point of time. So bandwidth
optimization was a major issue. Hence, the company required a solution, which
not only centralized application deployment and administration capabilities
but also optimized bandwidth management qualities.
The company uses the Citrix MetaFrame XP
Presentation Server. It tried direct dialing to the ERP server or another server
in the network via the modem, but that did not solve the purpose of bandwidth
management and centralized administration. Ramesh informs that due to the exact
suitability of the Citrix solution to GIL's requirements, the company did not
feel the need to evaluate other offerings in the market.
Simultaneous to its ERP rollout GIL implemented
the Citrix MetaFrame XP Presentation Server. Citrix software has been deployed
over a 256 Kbps ISDN link (for 10 large locations) and PSTN-VPN from Wipro (for
smaller locations), which was also being rolled out simultaneously.
The implementation, which was done by Momentum
Infocare, a member of the Citrix Solutions Network, was completed by August
2001. Presently the company has 50 Citrix licenses. All the GIL locations except
the Head Office in Delhi and the branch office, log on to the Citrix server
for ERP and messaging requirements. The Delhi HO and branch offices directly
log in to the ERP and mailing server.
The key features of the Citrix solution
implemented at GIL include centralized administration through Citrix Server
Administration, Shadowing, Security through login profiles, Universal Printer
Drivers, Printer Bandwidth Management, Enhanced Content Publishing, User Policies,
With a feature called 'Shadowing,' the
system administrator based in Delhi can remotely control the end user system
(at remote locations) and sort out a problem. Security through login profiles
allows restricted use of
various applications, and with the universal printer drivers feature there is
no need to install printer drivers separately.
Administrators can also configure 'content
publishing' to open published content with either a server-based or local application
through the enhanced content publishing feature. With this the local applications
are no longer required to access published content. The publishing application
can also prevent users from accessing certain resources on the network. For
instance the administrator can define users who can use e-mail services but
not the ERP application.
'User Policies' allow administrators to
configure MetaFrame settings like time zone, printing and shadowing for specific
users and groups. The 'Delegated Administration' feature enables organizations
to designate specialized Citrix administrators to handle specific MetaFrame
XP administration areas like managing printers, licenses, published applications,
and user policies.
The solution also has a built-in upgradation
One of the benefits of the Citrix solution
implementation for GIL has been the tremendous saving in communications cost
coupled with effective bandwidth management. According to Nagarajan, with its
inherent bandwidth management feature, the Citrix solution has helped GIL to
considerably cut its bandwidth costs even while running a high-end application
like ERP. Now it is possible for the company to deploy applications securely
with less bandwidth need, at reduced communications costs.
"Since communications costs are recurring
the cost benefits are going to be substantial. Effective bandwidth control has
also resulted in high data transmission speeds," says Ramesh.
Some of the other benefits derived out
of the Citrix implementation include real-time information access across the
enterprise, and faster and easier application deployment. The business expansion
has also been facilitated as the Citrix solution helps to easily add more clients
in the network by faster application deployment.
According to Ramesh the solution has also
resulted in investment protection by using low-end machines while retaining
high-performance, as the application and network performance remain extremely
good even on low-end client machines. The flexibility also comes in terms of
systems administration as the administration rights can even be delegated to
the users at the front-end. Presently the systems uptime levels are always more
than 99 percent.
GIL is planning to buy 25 new Citrix licenses
by this year-end as the number of users logging to Citrix grow. Considering
the growing amount of traffic on the Citrix server, it is also planning to adopt
the load-balancing feature. The IT department has proposed to buy another Citrix
server. The load-balancing feature will allow the load from one server to automatically
get transferred to the other server in case of the server going down. However,
the end-user will be transparent to this entire process.
- The company
Gestetner India Limited (GIL), is a leading manufacturer of office automation
equipment including digital printers and copiers, copy printers and
stencil duplicators. It is spread across 30 nationwide locations.
- The need
The company's ERP software was too bandwidth intensive. This prompted
slow data transmission speeds. Gestetner required high availability
for all its information systems and thus expected to be 'always on'.
- The solution
The company deployed Citrix MetaFrame XP Presentation Server.
- The benefits
This new solution offers Gestetner India benefits like centralized application
deployment, bandwidth management, minimal data transfer cost, and optimal
data transmission speed. The Citrix implementation has helped the company
save nearly Rs. 25 Lakh per annum through control on bandwidth and reduction
in communication costs.
- 160 PCs all over the country including Head Office
- Six servers at the Head Office: ERP server, mailing server, Citrix
server, SMTP server, HR application server, and backup server
- The LAN at the Delhi Head Office and Branch Office is connected to
a 10/100 Mbps switch through Cat 5 cable. The LANs at other locations
are machines connected on 16 port hubs
- WAN - All the 30 GIL locations are connected using 256 Kbps ISDN
and a PSTN VPN from Wipro. The company also has a 64 Kbps Internet connection
- Mail - A combination of Lotus R5 and Ccmail 8.02. Both communicate
- Database - Progress database management system
Shipra Arora can be reached at email@example.com