WH Smith News has deployed Dell storage and server technology for printing and email to free up its IT staff to work on strategy rather than day-to-day support issues.
The newspapers and magazine wholesaler, part of the WH Smith Group, has spent £1m to install high-availability clusters of Dell PowerEdge 2650 servers and PowerVault storage devices in its 26 newspaper and magazine warehouses.
The aim is to boost reliability and performance of printing and email.
Dell PowerEdge 6650 servers have also been installed in the wholesaler's data centres, to run a number of websites providing external services for publishers and retailers.
So far, 13 of the 26 sites have the Dell technology in place, with the other half to be completed by the beginning of December.
WH Smith News has a very tight three-hour window - between 3am and 6am - to pack and distribute its products, moving 50 million products each week and printing 130 million sheets of paper every year.
The wholesaler faced support issues with its previous warehouse servers responsible for printing and email, and plumped for the clustered Dell servers which are configured for both.
Robert Wilson, chief technology officer for WH Smith News, said: "We were running a single device around our print server and a single device around office automation and email.
"Now in the warehouses the clustering technology allows failover between the servers, so that one environment can fulfil both functions. Dell helped us with the configuring after we told them what we wanted, and now we have reliability and built-in capacity."
The Dell kit "has allowed our team to focus on technology strategies that affect the business rather than worrying about the day-to-day maintenance. It has freed up resources," Wilson added.
Dell's storage prices were persuasive in clinching the deal, as storage is the largest single element of the organisation's assets.
"When you have a clustering environment, storage disc space must be shared so there is enough for each warehouse," explained Wilson.
"We needed reliability but looked at storage as a commodity. It shouldn't need a lot of time or money or be highly specialised."
Wilson said the organisation is also looking into a new telephony strategy - perhaps voice over IP - and changes to its entire desktop strategy and systems management.
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