Royal Doulton Canada
"We achieved the results we wanted and accomplished that in a very cost-effective way thanks to the very impressive and resourceful work of the Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services team. RemoteWare is a very reliable and cost-effective solution and the Professional Services team really went the extra mile for us to make sure the project was successful and came in on budget in the agreed amount of time."
Project Leader, Retail Systems
The Royal Doulton Company has been producing fine bone china and porcelain tableware and collectibles for almost 200 years. In addition to the general public, its customers include the British Royal Family. Royal Doulton has been a long-time RemoteWare customer, but due to aging hardware, its retail payment system started experiencing increasing problems, including unexpected hardware failure and file errors. To eliminate these problems, Royal Doulton engaged Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services to upgrade much of its IT environment and implement the latest version of RemoteWare. Business Advantage Key Benefits Sybase Technology Industry
The Royal Doulton Company has been producing fine bone china and porcelain tableware and collectibles for almost 200 years. In addition to the general public, its customers include the British Royal Family. Royal Doulton has been a long-time RemoteWare customer, but due to aging hardware, its retail payment system started experiencing increasing problems, including unexpected hardware failure and file errors. To eliminate these problems, Royal Doulton engaged Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services to upgrade much of its IT environment and implement the latest version of RemoteWare.
Professional Services Engagement Pays Off for Upscale Retailer
For almost 200 years, The Royal Doulton Company has produced fine bone china and porcelain for tableware and collectibles. As its name suggests, the company enjoys the distinction of a "Royal Warrant," a designation bestowed upon companies that have regularly supplied members of the British Royal Family with goods or services. The Royal Warrant is regarded as a mark of supreme excellence and quality. Royal Doulton also sells its tableware, glassware and ceramic giftware to the general public.
As is the case in any retail operation, the point-of-sale processing of sales transactions and transfer of that information to the company's back-end accounting systems is essential to the business. Companies need to have detailed information on each transaction in order to track total and per-store purchases, ensure prompt and accurate payment from credit card companies to expedite cash flow, monitor store inventories, and analyze internal performance and external trends, opportunities and threats.
"When it comes to Royal Doulton's IT systems, our payment system is about as mission-critical as you can get. We simply can't afford to have any disruption to the system," says Simon Li, project leader for Retail Systems at Royal Doulton.
"Our payment system, however, was aging," Li continues. "Our hardware was about 9 years old. We were running an operating system that was no longer being supported and other software that was several versions behind the current version. As a result, we were experiencing server failures and file errors with increasing frequency. On a particularly bad day, we might experience a file transfer failure rate of 60 percent. Because it was essential for us to have data that was 100 percent accurate, both store and IT staff had to spend substantial amounts of time correcting file errors. This diverted them from other more productive activities. It was clear that we had to do something to address those issues and do it quickly."
The system also did not meet the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard. This standard comprises 12 requirements that must be met by merchants and service providers that store, process or transmit credit cardholder data. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in substantial financial penalties and even revocation of the right to accept credit card payments.
There were two additional challenges that had to be factored into whatever solution the IT team chose to remedy the situation. One was that the decision to address the problems came shortly before the all-important holiday shopping season. The other was limited budget.
Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services Chosen to Upgrade Retail Payment System
The Royal Doulton IT team considered several vendors' solutions as well as in-house implementation versus outsourcing the project to a consulting organization. Based on their expertise and experience with the RemoteWare product, the team ultimately decided to engage Sybase iAnywhere's Professional Services organization to help the company fully analyze the situation, recommend a solution and work collaboratively with the Royal Doulton IT team to implement that solution. For budgetary reasons, Sybase iAnywhere's Professional Services consultants would work remotely with the Royal Doulton team.
The Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services team began by performing an audit of Royal Doulton's existing payment system including all of the hardware, software, and configuration files to establish a clear understanding of the system and a baseline from which they could begin to work.
Royal Doulton Payment System: A Closer Look
The Royal Doulton payment system consisted of two main parts – the retail store component and the back-end accounting systems component.
Each retail store had a JDA Win/DSS point-of-sale system that fed into a Windows NT server. Running on that server was the Sybase iAnywhere RemoteWare (v3.31) client.
At headquarters, the RemoteWare Server (v3.31) was running on a Windows NT server. In addition, there was an AS/400 server running the accounting application, a SQL Server 2000 database and the JDA Merchandise Management System (MMS).
Each night, the RemoteWare server at headquarters would poll each of the retail store servers, triggering a file transfer of that day's sales transactions from each store. The file transfers were carried over a dial-up connection to the RemoteWare server at headquarters. From there, the information was moved into Royal Doulton's accounting system.
Solution: Complete IT Refresh
Once the audit was complete, Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services presented Li with a plan that recommended a complete refresh of Royal Doulton's existing IT environment including:
- Migrate Royal Doulton from its outdated version of RemoteWare from Sybase iAnywhere to the current version and installing it on an HP blade server running Windows 2003 at headquarters
- Install the RemoteWare client on the Windows XP servers in the retail stores
There were additional issues regarding versioning conflicts with Royal Doulton's back-end SQL Server 2000 database and its AS/400s. The Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services consultants were able to create workarounds for these conflicts that enabled the company to continue using its AS/400s, optimizing the aging hardware.
Once Royal Doulton signed off on the plan, the combined teams got to work on implementing its recommendations.
The Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services team installed the latest version of RemoteWare (4.3) on the HP blade server. They then migrated the data residing in the earlier version of RemoteWare to the upgraded version. Next, the Professional Services team installed the RemoteWare client software on each retail store server. This was all done remotely from the team's location in Alpharetta, GA. After completing the workaround to address the compatibility issues regarding Royal Doulton's AS/400s and SQL Server 2000 database, the Sybase iAnywhere team began testing the new system one store at a time to verify its reliability and accuracy.
Smooth Implementation, Substantial Results
"All told," Li recalls, "this migration project took about two weeks and ran very smoothly. Our goal from the beginning was to have a stable, reliable payment system in place that required little or no human intervention. Prior to this upgrade of our payment system, I was spending about half of each day correcting file errors. Thanks to the success of this project, my day-to-day maintenance of the payment system has been reduced by about 90 percent. It's also reduced the time store employees have to spend correcting files by about 80 percent. These reductions translate into about $10,000 a year in cost savings.
"We achieved the results we wanted," adds Li, "and accomplished that in a very cost-effective way thanks to the very impressive upgrade and implementation services delivered remotely by the Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services team. RemoteWare is a very reliable and cost-effective solution, and our Professional Services team really went the extra mile for us to make sure the project was successful and came in on budget in the agreed amount of time."