Soup Kitchen International found fame after being featured in the “Soup Episode” of the television show, Seinfeld. It consists of franchise stores, as well as three corporate office locations, which were recently consolidated into a large national headquarters and distribution center. Key store equipment includes cash registers, desktop computers, security cameras, and DSL. Corporate facilities use a T-1 line or greater and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, and most employees use laptop computers. Each day, the stores connect to the corporate offices for Web-based application access and register polling.
The company’s IT environment consists of six servers: a server running Windows Server® 2003 SBS Server, a server running Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003, a file and print server, a Linux-based point of sale server, and a server acting as a backup appliance and a network-attached storage system.
In the past, corporate offices were connected through a virtual private network (VPN). Company leaders wondered whether its infrastructure could keep pace with business growth. “Rapid growth requires flexibility and expansion options where capital for infrastructure investments is not always available,” says William Ciaramello, VP of Operations at Soup Kitchen International.
Company leaders were looking for a technology solution that was flexible enough to grow with the organization. Interoperability was critical: the solution would have to work with the existing accounting system, e-mail system (Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 and Office Outlook 2007), point-of-sale application, graphic design program, and theft prevention systems.
Soup Kitchen International evaluated running Citrix as a foundation with Windows Server 2003. However, the desire to maximize existing technology investments and the timing of the new release made Windows Server 2008 the optimal choice.
Soup Kitchen International enlisted eMazzanti Technologies to deploy the Windows Server 2008 solution for its firm. eMazzanti Technologies drafted the proposal for the initial investment and framework for the Soup Kitchen International organization, assisting in every step of technology acquisition and implementation since that time. eMazzanti Technologies has also helped Soup Kitchen International grow by providing consistent and thorough completion of its strategic technology plans.
eMazzanti Technologies first tested each third-party application on Windows Vista®. After the test phase proved successful, eMazzanti Technologies manually installed the applications on Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services and customized the installation package. Deployment was smooth, and Windows Server 2008 proved that it could operate with those business-critical systems.
The Windows Server 2008 solution serves all employees in the Soup Kitchen International corporate offices and includes: Terminal Services (TS) Licensing, Terminal Services Easy Print, and Terminal Services (TS) Web Access. TS Web Access is especially useful because it enables users to remotely access centrally located applications and data. The types of devices used to connect to the Terminal Services solution include Windows Embedded thin clients, Mac OS, and Linux systems.
Finally, eMazzanti uses both Remote Desktop and HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) technologies for remote server management.
The solution has improved the bottom line through direct cost reductions and enhanced staff productivity. Detailed benefits are as follows:
* Decreased time spent managing servers.
* Lowered total cost of ownership. New desktop acquisition has dropped from nearly $1,000 to less than $400 based on the use of thin clients. Concurrent license usage—instead of the alternative of licensing desktop computers and workstations that are not used—has decreased license costs.
* Improved user productivity. Remote access enables employees to work from anywhere, extending working hours with little overhead increase. The extent of this benefit was unexpected: users are able to work when the offices are closed, and they tend to stay connected and send e-mail during non-business hours.
* Improved scalability. Windows Server 2008 is a solution that can scale as the company grows. Adding a new user to the organization is now as easy as creating a new user account.
* Improved security. Maintaining applications and data in a centralized location enables their removal from laptops and desktop computers.
* Operational efficiency. Wide area network (WAN) usage is more efficient. Consolidation of servers from branches to a corporate office makes server maintenance easier.
An efficiently operating infrastructure also provides a competitive advantage. “More potential franchise owners are choosing The Original SoupMan because we can respond quickly to their needs,” says Ciaramello.
In the future, the company plans to convert laptops and desktop computers to thin clients that can take advantage of Terminal Services. Downstream benefits are expected to include less staff requirements for addressing franchise and business needs.
Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008, with built-in Web and virtualization technologies, enables you to increase the reliability and flexibility of your server infrastructure. New virtualization tools, Web resources, and security enhancements help you save time, reduce costs, and provide a platform for a dynamic and optimized datacenter. Powerful new tools like IIS 7.0, Server Manager, and Windows® PowerShell, allow you to have more control over your servers and streamline Web, configuration, and management tasks. Advanced security and reliability enhancements like Network Access Protection and the Read-Only Domain Controller option for Active Directory Domain Services harden the operating system and help protect your server environment to ensure you have a solid foundation on which to build your business.
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Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, Microsoft’s four time Partner of the Year and one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Carl and his company manage over 400 active accounts ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.
eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, managed print, PCI DSS compliance, green computing, mobile workforce technology, information security, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.
Carl Mazzanti is also a frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest and contributor at Microsoft-focused events, including frequent prominent roles at the Microsoft Inspire (Worldwide Partner Conference / WPC).
Carl, a serial Entrepreneur, gives back to the community through Entrepreneur teaching engagements at Georgetown University, the company’s ocean wildlife conservation effort, the Blue Project, and Tree Mazzanti.