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Industry: Retail & Fashion
Location: Hong Kong
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Wing On future-proofs digital workloads to offset the risks of an aging workforce

Highlights

  • Consolidates physical server footprint by 94 percent
  • Cuts server maintenance costs
  • Boosts infrastructure team’s productivity and reduces the risk of errors

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Founded in 1907, Wing On is one of Hong Kong’s leading department stores. The company also manages a portfolio of commercial property investments, with properties located in Hong Kong, the United States of America, and Australia.

At-a-Glance

With key employees nearing retirement age, Wing On aimed to futureproof its processes. To cut the risk of losing important knowledge when employees retire, the company has embraced digital workflows supported by SAP S/4HANA on a robust, reliable SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications platform. Thanks to SUSE Manager, the company has cut its server maintenance costs—enabling it to run its SAP platform in a lean, cost-effective way.

The Challenge

For small- and medium-sized businesses, an aging workforce can present tough challenges. If processes depend on the experience of key employees, there is a risk of losing this knowledge as they retire.

This was the challenge facing Wing On, one of Hong Kong’s longest-established department store groups. To ensure it could continue to drive lean, efficient operations, the company decided to replace its processes with integrated, digital workflows.

Kendrick Kwok, assistant general manager at Wing On, explained: “Many of our senior personnel are reaching retirement age, and we knew we risked losing the valuable skills we need to support the business. To mitigate that risk, we embarked on a digital transformation.”

To lay the foundation for the new way of working, Wing On selected SAP S/4HANA. To empower the business to focus on its core competencies, Wing On decided that the new solution would be delivered as a managed service via an Equinix data center—enabling it to decommission its legacy on-premises infrastructure and drive operational cost-savings.

“The market penetration of SAP in Hong Kong is extensive, and we see that SAP is the solution of choice for some of the world’s leading enterprises,” continues Kwok. “We were confident that SAP S/4HANA would be the optimal choice to support our new digital workflows. To help us maximize the value of that investment, we looked for a robust, secure and high-performance server platform.”

“With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, we’ve consolidated our production environment from 50 physical servers to just three—a 94% reduction.”

SUSE Solution

After consulting with infrastructure experts at Artisan Technologies and Equinix, Wing On decided to use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications as its platform for SAP S/4HANA.

“The SUSE solution is the platform of choice for SAP S/4HANA deployments for both Equinix and SAP,” states Kwok. “SAP and SUSE work closely together on tuning the operating system, so we had no doubt that we could achieve high levels of performance and reliability for our SAP applications. And with SUSE Premium Support, we knew we’d get any help we needed to ensure our deployment was a success.”

Working together with teams from Artisan Technologies and Equinix, Wing On deployed the new SAP business systems on HPE servers, virtualized with VMware vSphere.

“With SLES for SAP Applications, we’ve consolidated our production environment from 50 physical servers to just three—a 94% reduction,” commented Kwok. “We’re now running over 40 Linux virtual machines [VMs] in our production environment. The project was an unqualified success, and today our entire retail business is running on SAP S/4HANA.”

To further enhance its infrastructure management efficiency, Wing On decided to deploy SUSE Manager—enabling automated monitoring, patching and reporting on its systems.

“From a single dashboard, we can see the patches applied to each of our systems,” says Kwok. “By increasing our visibility and automating repetitive patching processes, we can practically eliminate the risk of human error, which helps us strengthen our security posture substantially.”

The Results

With SAP S/4HANA running on SLES for SAP Applications, Wing On has achieved its goal of shaping future-proof digital workflows—protecting it from the risks of an aging workforce.

“We find the SUSE platform to be extremely stable and reliable,” adds Kwok. “The last time we needed to reboot our production environment during patching was around one month ago, and we couldn’t be happier with the solution. In fact, we’ve now decided that SLES will be our platform going forward for all Linux-based services, and we’ve started migrating our other Linux machines to the SUSE platform. With SUSE Manager, spinning up a new VM is simple, and typically takes less than 10 minutes.”

With SUSE Manager automating its infrastructure management processes, Wing On is driving significant cost-savings.

“We outsource our infrastructure management to Artisan Technologies, and any time they can save on tasks like patching helps us to contain our costs,” comments Kwok. “With SUSE Manager, we have cut our maintenance costs and improved IT management productivity.”

Kwok concludes: “When you’re trying to simplify 30 years of manual processes, you want a platform that’s reliable and cost-effective—and for us, SUSE Linux Enterprise is both.”