Volume 9, Number 5 -- February 3, 2009

CCSS Helps AGNE Automate System i Management

Published: February 3, 2009

by Alex Woodie

Keeping on top of day-to-day System i management tasks is an important job at Associated Grocers of New England (AGNE), a $315 million wholesale food supplier to more than 500 stores in the New England and Upstate New York areas. But now that it has brought in i OS systems management tools from CCSS, company officials don't have worry so much about IT issues disrupting the business.

Based in Pembroke, New Hampshire, AGNE distributes food to about 100 company-owned stores on the East Coast, as well as nearly 500 independently owned supermarkets and food stores in the region. The company recently opened a new 380,000-square-foot warehouse in Pembroke, and it manages about 26,000 items.

At the heart of AGNE's operations is a data center outfitted with IBM System i and Windows servers. The Model 520 runs the Retalix Power Enterprise suite of distribution software, while the Blade Servers run the Cadec Mobius fleet management software and the company's e-commerce Web site. Access to the Windows systems is delivered via Citrix.

Keeping the data center running as smoothly as possible was a challenge for AGNE, as it is for any company. Failure to change a tape in an autoloader, submit a check number to accounting, or complete a weekly price update has dire consequences..

For example, several members of AGNE's IT team had to work overtime when a weekly price update was not submitted by its normal time, says Ken Peperissa, AGNE's IT director. "The ramifications were quite disruptive and resulted in several individuals pulling an all-nighter to recover," he says.

To reduce the disruption that these events can cause, AGNE installed the QMessage Monitor systems management software from CCSS. In addition to monitoring System i message logs, AGNE has configured the product to alert management whenever certain tasks are not performed by employees.

"The minute the pager goes off we know exactly which LPAR and the exact system message," Peperissa says. "Itís that simple. No investigation time required."

The software also allows AGNE to be more proactive about potential disruptions. Peperissa recalls one incident where QMessage Monitor (QMM) alerted operators to a situation with the scheduling software before it became critical, thereby keeping the delivery trucks on time.

"Before QMM, they would have waited until they suspected something was wrong, because they were not getting their paperwork," Peperissa says. "QMM allowed us to resolve the issue before impacting our delivery schedule."

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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