10/09/2013 | Hardis Group

The international textiles group originating from the Ardèche in France decided to move its whole information system to Hardis' private cloud.  This migration has made its IS more modern, powerful and scalable.

Hardis Group has announced that the Chomarat Group has migrated its whole information system to its private cloud. The international textiles group used this migration as an opportunity to modernize its IT infrastructure and application portfolio. The migration means that Chomarat's IS department can now concentrate on making functional upgrades to business applications while Hardis' teams take care of operating and upgrading the whole infrastructure.

A family-run international textiles group

Founded in 1898, the Chomarat Group is now an international textiles group with 1,500 employees, operating on four continents. The independent company, which has been owned and managed by the Chomarat family for four generations, has gradually forged a solid reputation in the development, design and manufacture of technical textiles solutions used in numerous sectors (transport, marine, building, energy, civil engineering and sports, etc.). Despite being little known to the general public, Chomarat products feature highly in everyday life: road reinforcements, reinforcements for buildings or boat sails and protective clothing (for building and public works or personal safety for instance). The group has also developed real expertise in the luxury goods sector (fine leather goods, clothing) and the off-the-rack clothing sector.  It owns the women's fashion brand Chattawak and its 115 retail outlets. Loyal to the region in which it was founded, the Chomarat Group employs nearly 600 people in the Ardèche where its operational head office and three main production sites are located.

A necessary information system upgrade

Built over time and according to requirements, the group's information system was based on an aging IT architecture: despite being shared, the twenty or so services deployed were not virtualized and were starting to show their limits, particularly in terms of power. In addition, the IT team of fewer than 10 people did not have the highly specialized experience required to manage certain environments (particularly Linux), and were regularly called out at night or on the weekend.

A new IT framework plan was put in place in 2010. At the end of July 2011, after studying several options, the textiles group's IS department decided to outsource the information system to a private cloud. "It was too expensive to upgrade the existing system from both a hardware and software point of view. Also, because of our small team, we did not have all the skills required to manage the new architecture," explained Patrick Champalle, Chomarat Group IS Department.

Hardis' private cloud: a better price/service ratio

After inviting bids from eight companies, we chose Hardis' private cloud offering: "It was the most relevant and specialized offering and also offered the best price/services ratio," explained Patrick Champalle. In addition to Linux and Windows skills, Hardis' teams were able to win over the Chomarat Group's IS department with their expertise in IBM AS/400 environments which the in-house ERP ran on. In January 2012, after three months of preparatory work (migration to Active Directory, VM testing and migration procedures, etc.), the first server to switch to Hardis' private cloud was a production AS/400. This was followed by the rest: at the end of February 2012, the whole of the textiles group's infrastructure was migrated to Hardis' private cloud and was operational in production.

Redundant architecture and an operational DRP

In addition to implementing redundant very-high-speed broadband (Orange optical fiber), "Hardis recommended disk bays designed for real-time replication of hosted data, whichever the environment: AS/400 and Windows," explained the IS Director. "A less complex and more satisfactory solution than the software tools recommended by most of the companies we consulted." Since the migration, regular real-conditions exercises have enabled the textiles group to ensure that the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is fully operational in all the environments within a few hours or days. The maximum time for moving from the production site to the back-up site and vice-versa for all the servers and with 100% of data up to date, is less than two hours.

Gradual information system modernization

Today, Hardis' teams handle the optimization of Chomarat's whole IT infrastructure while the internal IS department focuses on replacing or making functional upgrades to applications and managing the workstations. Although some of them are still running on AS/400, particularly the in-house ERP, the textiles group took advantage of the migration to modernize its applications portfolio by replacing obsolete applications with software package solutions. "Hardis' teams are responsible for integrating these new applications," explained Patrick Champalle. "We can now concentrate on upgrading our business applications, our real added value, without worrying about infrastructure integration and management," he continued.

The status reports provided by Hardis Group give Chomarat's IS department an overview of the IT infrastructure: disk and processor occupation rate, available power, SLAs, etc. "We are fully satisfied with our choice: by putting our IS on Hardis' private cloud, we have acquired external skills in fields we are not familiar with and the call-outs have stopped. We also benefit from a pay-per-use structure and no longer have to handle maintenance and updates," concluded Patrick Champalle.