Toyota Australia ramps up IT transformation projects

Auto maker, Toyota Australia, is in the closing stages of a major IT modernisation initiative which will see the company replace data centre hardware, migrate to Windows 7 and iPad/iPhone trials.

The projects, according to Toyota Australia information systems division service delivery corporate manager, Ellis Brover, are designed to reduce costs and update the company’s ageing infrastructure.

He told Computerworld Australia that the data centre refresh included replacement of firewalls, load balancing and router hardware.

An upgrade from the XP operating system (OS) to Windows 7, which began in September 2010 following the signing of a services contract with supplier Fujitsu, will be completed in May 2012.

“It was a particularly complex project for us, largely because we were going from an 11-year-old operating system and a relatively uncontrolled operating environment to a controlled one,” he said. “As a result we had to discover the thousands of applications our users had installed and test all of them for Windows 7.”

The company is also conducting a trial of 30 iPads and iPhones as part of a strategy to replace 100 BlackBerry smartphones currently issued to executives. The tablets and smartphones are due to be rolled out by mid-2012 to both sales staff and executives.

“Feedback has been very positive, especially from staff members who haven’t had access to this technology before,” Brover said. “They’re telling us the devices allow them to be more efficient while on the road and keep up to date with business changes as they happen.”

A bring your own device (BYOD) trial is also underway. This will allow staff to synchronise their personal iPad or iPhone with the company’s network to access emails and documents.

“We’re still satisfying ourselves that we can guarantee the right level of security with BYOD but the flip side of not having a policy is that it sometimes leads people to circumnavigate networks in a way that is less secure,” he said.

In addition, Toyota Australia has renewed an existing managed voice and data network services contract with NEC for the next three years.

As part of this contract, NEC provides data carriage, customer premises equipment, service monitoring and support to more than 180 Toyota dealer sites across Australia. The service is supported by NEC’s Nextep network, providing the manufacturer with a private Cloud offering.

The contract extension also provides a network reliability upgrade to the Dealers IP network, a dealer management system which runs every aspect of a dealership, and is hosted in a private Cloud by Fujitsu.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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