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Nextgen Distribution is a Value Added Distributor (VAD) and Oracle Platinum Partner in Australia. The company supports Oracle’s channel business by working closely with the Oracle PartnerNetwork to increase adoption of Oracle’s Red Stack solution―an integrated set of offerings that include hardware and software―in the Australian market.
Nextgen Distribution’s sales consultants and technical experts use their deep understanding of the Oracle Red Stack solution to empower channel partners by educating them about new products, supporting them in penetrating specific markets and acessing business opportunities, investing in marketing campaigns, and ensuring Oracle products are delivered to end customers on time.
“The partner channel is responsible for a significant amount of Oracle’s business in Australia,” said John Walters, managing director, Nextgen Distribution. “We were founded to support Oracle’s growth in the market, and one way to do this is to educate, engage, and enable Oracle’s partners to sell the complete stack of Oracle solutions.”
Nextgen Distribution sees great opportunities in Oracle engineered systems and optimized solutions and expects its distribution business to grow rapidly over the next few years.
“Our aim is to have the business turning over around US$304 million (A$300 million) within four or five years,” said Walters.
After 15 years in the distribution industry and working for fast-growing companies, Walters knows from experience the importance of choosing the right systems from day one.
“I’ve learned it’s better to overinvest upfront in building a strong foundation platform, rather than deploy financials and supply chain systems when the business begins growing rapidly,” he said. “Implementing new systems can have a huge impact on a distribution business, as any disruptions—whether planned or not—make it harder for vendors, customers, and staff to manage and complete error-free sales transactions.”
Nextgen Distribution wanted a robust, scalable, and reliable enterprise-level database platform that could accommodate organic growth, as well as growth from mergers and acquisitions. The platform also had to support a high volume of sales orders by multiple resellers, often transacting concurrently.
“As the conduit between Oracle and resellers, we wanted to provide a seamless transaction experience for the channel,” said Walters. “This required a solution that integrated with Oracle’s back-end systems—such as the Oracle Partner Store, Oracle PartnerNetwork, and Open Market Model—to ensure reseller orders flow through smoothly from our systems to Oracle’s. Any errors or processing delays can affect the on-time delivery of products to the end customer, which in turn will hold up their implementation plans.”
Nextgen Distribution also needed an affordable, fast-to-deploy solution with minimal support and maintenance costs.
The decision to implement Oracle Database Appliance came from an Oracle presentation on the new product, to which Walters was invited. At the end of the presentation, Walters offered to install Oracle Database Appliance because “the product met all of our requirements for robustness, scalability, reliability, and affordability.”
The switch to Oracle Database Appliance two weeks into a six-week implementation time frame put immense pressure on Nextgen Distribution and Dataweave, the Oracle Gold Partner Walters engaged to help with the deployment.
“Our aim was to have Oracle Database Appliance up and running by the end of September 2011, as I had offered to make a presentation on our experience of the product at Oracle OpenWorld on October 1,” said Walters.
When Oracle Database Appliance arrived at Nextgen Distribution’s Sydney office on September 20, it took Dataweave approximately two-and-a-half hours to set up the platform. It was the first deployment of Oracle Database Appliance in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Because Oracle Database Appliance is an engineered system, all the components work together,” said Walters. “It meant we did not have to spend days working on getting the database to talk to the storage area network, operating system, and other parts of the architecture. Oracle Database Appliance saved us around 5 to 10 days of configuration work—that was a real bonus considering our very tight deadline.
“It actually took us longer to get Oracle Database Appliance out of its carton and installed into a rack, than it did to power it up and get a database running,” he said.
Oracle Database Appliance integrates Oracle Database 11g with Oracle servers, storage, and networking in a single box, to lower implementation costs and provide ease of management.
“The price point of Oracle Database Appliance makes it an extremely affordable solution for midsize organizations—like ours—that want enterprise-scale performance in a single box, but that might not have the budget for such a product,” said Walters.
“In Nextgen Distribution’s case, we invested the money we saved in configuration and implementation costs in designing efficient business processes around Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, which we use to manage financials and supply chain planning.
“I achieved a better result with the same budget because the majority of my implementation funds were spent in the areas of most importance to the business—developing better sales, financial management, and reporting processes,” said Walters. “For a start-up with low cash reserves, this helped our business get off the ground quickly.”
Choosing a solution that integrates a database, servers, storage, and networking in one box also lowers database administration, hardware, and storage maintenance costs. A January 2012 report by research firm ORC International comparing Oracle Database Appliance with Microsoft SQL Server found that a database administrator would save 835 hours in the first year of system implementation using Oracle Database Appliance rather than SQL Server, and 669 hours in each subsequent year of the system’s life.
“We save on costs by not having to deal with and pay multiple vendors for support and maintenance,” said Walters. “By opting for a single-vendor solution, we also benefit from more efficient, informed service when we run into problems. Oracle understands how every element in the stack—database, applications, storage, and networking—works together and can provide fixes and patches that take into account the impact on every element.”
Oracle Database Appliance’s pay-as-you-grow software licensing model offers flexible scalability, which makes it ideal for organizations, such as Nextgen Distribution, that can implement 2 cores when starting out and then scale up to 24 cores as business grows.
“For a company like ours aiming for rapid growth, we’re paying for what we need today at the lower end of the licensing scale, and as we grow the business we can increase the capacity of the box and pay accordingly,” said Walters. “That’s really important for businesses that don’t have the funds to pay upfront for a solution with excess capacity.”
Nextgen Distribution has loaded the Oracle Database element of Oracle Financials onto Oracle Database Appliance.
To date, Nextgen Distribution has found transaction processing to be efficient and reliable.
“Our transaction numbers are fairly low at this stage, as we’re just starting up, but we’re finding the interaction between a user query—such as an order placement—and the result—such as order confirmation—to be very slick,” said Walters. “The query response rate is very good, and we are confident Oracle Database Appliance can support the thousands of transactions and concurrent users we expect. The product’s high availability will also ensure our reseller customers can place their orders quickly and seamlessly.”
Nextgen Distribution plans to use its real-life experience to showcase Oracle Database Appliance to prospective customers. The company has already had expressions of interest from several quarters, including a number of large Australian federal government departments.
Despite being an Oracle VAD, Walters stressed that Nextgen Distribution was under no obligation to use Oracle products for its database and business systems.
“We considered the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne suite, a Microsoft product, and some other smaller home-grown enterprise resource planning solutions,” said Walters. “Our ultimate solution was to use Oracle CRM On Demand for customer relationship management; Oracle E-Business Suite for financial and supply chain planning; Oracle iStore as the retail front-end; and Oracle Fusion Middleware with application and test and development servers running Oracle Linux.
“Because we advocate an Oracle stack, we leapt at the opportunity to use Oracle Database Appliance to underpin our business systems,” said Walters. “The idea of a high-performance, fully integrated storage, server, and database solution was very appealing. We get the best of Oracle’s three technologies, one support contract, one service organization, and no issues due to incompatible systems.”
Nextgen Distribution engaged Dataweave to deliver a fully functional enterprise resource planning system based on Oracle E-Business Suite, configured to meet Nextgen Distribution’s specific requirements. The company was given six weeks to complete the implementation.
Two weeks into the implementation, the decision was made to implement Oracle Database Appliance. While waiting for the product to be shipped from Oracle’s U.S. headquarters, Dataweave installed a test environment in Nextgen Distribution’s data center on standard Intel servers to allow the implementation project to proceed.
Oracle Database Appliance arrived at Nextgen Distribution’s office nine days before the company’s implementation deadline. Thanks to the 11-step configuration wizard, Dataweave had Oracle Database Appliance up and running in two-and-a-half hours.
“The preconfigured Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) set-up meant we simply chose whether we wanted a single server, a one-node RAC, or a full two-node cluster,” said Norman Weaver, managing director, Dataweave. “We saved around 5 to 10 days in configuration time, as we didn’t have to get the various architecture components talking to each other.”
“We set Dataweave a task that would normally take around 12 weeks to complete—and they did it in half the time, despite having to switch from deploying another system to Oracle Database Appliance two weeks into the project,” said Walters. “Dataweave played a major role in the successful deployment of Oracle Database Appliance.”