In-flight catering firm Alpha LSG completes migration of entire IT infrastructure

In-flight catering and retail firm Alpha LSG chose service providers Getronics to lead on the migration of its entire IT infrastructure, under a five year outsourcing contract worth an expected £10 million.

Aplha LSG has over 3,600 employees across 33 warehouse and office locations around the UK, serving nearly 40 million airline meals a year to 75 airline companies.  Alpha LSG also provides logistic services to airlines, as well as supplying ancillary in-flight services enabling the sale of items such as alcohol, perfume and magazines during journeys.

In order to support its operations, Alpha LSG has a range of enterprise systems including warehouse and supply chain management, internal finance, customer relationship management and point of sale retail systems.  This includes SAP’s Finance software, SAP’s Materials Management ERP system, as well as Microsoft Dynamics AX, and a bespoke built in-flight retailing system.

Previously these business applications were hosted in a data centre in London, under an agreement with Alpha LSG's previous supplier.  The relationship with the incumbent supplier also involved delivery and support of on-premise hardware, including file and print servers, and over 500 desktop PCs at its various locations.

Following a buy-out of the firm’s operations in 2010, the newly formed organisation Alpha LSG agreed a two year timescale to move its IT infrastructure over to the data centres of a new service provider.

Alpha LSG spent a number of months tendering for a new service provider, deciding on Getronics to deliver its IT infrastructure, with the service provider deemed preferable on a cost basis compared to other such as Capita and IBM.

Alpha LSG agreed a five year deal for Getronics to host all of its enterprise applications on virtualised hardware in its Runcorn data centre, as well as replacing all of its legacy desktop hardware with Dell Wyse thin clients across its various premises.

The migration also saw Alpha LSG upgrading its operating systems. This involved updating desktops from a 2000/XP environment to Windows 7 virtual desktops in the Getronics data centre, also moving to Office 2010.  Meanwhile its Windows Server 2003 systems were replaced with Windows 2008 R2 in the hosted environment.

One of the challenges of the migration project was moving its mission critical applications over to the new data centre before the deadline of December 2012, when support from its previous supplier ended.  With no work able to be completed during the holiday season, Alpha LSG had just a three month period starting in October to complete the project, leaving little room for error.

“It was a very aggressive roll-out and transformation,” said Charlie Goakes, IT Director at Alpha LSG, but added that the move was completed within the agreed timescale.

“We were able to able to move all of the infrastructure without delaying one single flight or causing any disruption to our airlines, so it was very successful.”

Goakes added that the new outsourcing contract will create greater flexibility in procuring new services in future.

“It enabled us to have one single point of contact for all of our services, and then be an enabler for future innovation, such as around a managed print service and IP telephony and so on, which we hope to move onto in the next year once we have settled down the infrastructure.”

The contract will involve Getronics delivering Alpha LSG's IT under a monthly on-demand 'cloud-style' payment model, allowing the catering firm to increase or decrease its server usage to meet seasonal peaks, particularly around busy holiday periods.  For example, the number of PC users falls from 500 users during the summer to almost half that amount during off-peak seasons, lowering demands on servers.

In total the deal is expected to be worth £10 million over the course of the contract, based on average costing and usage.

Getronics recently announced that it provide service desk, service management and application management support for London Gatwick Airport, as the UK’s second largest airport transforms its IT strategy.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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