Shell gives infrastructure $9m facelift

Shell Australia has completed a $9 million overhaul of its technology infrastructure across six sites, a project which the oil giant expects will help generate $5 million in cost savings over the next three years.

Brisbane-based Shell Direct and Shell Services - the B2B commercial arm and the division providing engineering maintenance and support services to industry respectively – embarked on the facelift at the beginning of last year.

Driven by the need to completely refresh its desktop and server infrastructure, Shell Australia believed it would be a risk to continue using an "alternate infrastructure IT solution being offered in-house" because it was overpriced and lacked "adequate flexibility…to meet all the necessary" business requirements, the company said.

Engaging Queensland-based IT management consultancy SEC Corpnet, Shell redesigned and deployed its major business solutions under a framework of key technical objectives.

Besides a primary need to offer a cost-effective and flexible solution, Shell's new solution model also needed to establish for the Shell Direct and Shell Services businesses a new infrastructure platform to deliver core business applications; provide a new wide area network infrastructure to support key communications services such as VPN and high-speed Internet and dial-in; integrate with Shell's current platforms; streamline the use of technology within the organisation; offer remote coverage for Shell's rural offices, and provide a national structure to manage ongoing support requirements.

Six major hubs at Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, North Fremantle and Malaga in WA were involved in the technology refresh, with Shell's Brisbane site serving as a pilot location, SEC Corpnet's marketing manager Jonathon Pannell told Computerworld.

The overall solution covered four key technology elements which included the company's hardware platforms of IBM's xSeries servers, IBM desktop and laptop components (outsourced to IBM Global Services Australia), Wyse Thin Client devices, HP Networking devices and APC UPS facilities. Communications services included Telstra's Private IP Network (TPIPS); software platforms such as Windows Server 2000, Citrix MetaFram XPe, SAP, Checkpoint Firewall-1, RSA Security Authentication and core desktop application suites (Office XP, Adobe Applications) and infrastructure components like cabling services and server room readiness.

SEC Corpnet facilitated connectivity from the six hub locations. These locations housed Shell's core infrastructure services and delivered applications through Citrix to some 550 users in 97 regional locations nationally, SEC Corpnet officials said.

The total value of the project – covering hardware, software and awarded contracts – was $9 million over three years.

The main benefit of the overhaul lies in a $5 million cost saving Shell expects to achieve over the next three years from its review, redesign and implementation of a new infrastructure solution model.

So far, the project has demonstrated a host of good outcomes, officials said, such as the provision of a standardised platform across all businesses, a support function matching the business offering which has improved service levels, the delivery of "full application functionality" to local and regional users via the implementation of Citrix technology, and increased efficiency by upgrading old technology.

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