The logistics service provider Hellmann Worldwide Logistics utilizes NetScaler technology for the provision of its global customer and employee portal Citrix. The solution ensures the high availability of the IBM WebSphere-based portal environment and relieves the application server in the backend of resource-intensive processes in the SSL encryption and user authentication. In addition, NetScaler appliances for Hellmann assume today a number of other tasks in the network area.
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics can look back on more than 140 years of company history. Founded in 1871 by Carl Heinrich Hellmann, the company launched first as a one-man operation with horse-drawn carriage, the delivery of shipments around the northern German city of Osnabrück. Today Hellmann Worldwide Logistics is a global logistics provider with an active network in 157 countries. The great-grandson of the company founder, Jost and Klaus Hellmann, the company is now run by the fourth generation. For the particular combination of tradition and innovation is the company's motto "Thinking Ahead, Moving Forward". Employees of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics treat each new project as a special challenge and are constantly striving to develop better and more efficient solutions for the worldwide customers.
The use of new technologies is an important part of this strategy. So the company built from 2005 to its customers progressively a centralized online portal, where numerous services and information resources are bundled today. The portal environment based on IBM WebSphere technology, includes, among other Web applications for tracking and tracing, costing and document management. Customers can retrieve information about your current orders at any time and have the portal even the ability to collaborate on documents with employees of Hellmann.
"The focus of the solution was initially mainly due to applications for our customers. Very quickly, we realized that the web portal also offers great potential for our internal processes, "says Benjamin Kania, IS Enterprise Services Manager at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics. The IT department of the company therefore integrated a number of communication and administration tools for their own employees into the portal environment.
With the integration of an increasing number of services and the growing number of users and the strategic importance of the portal rose for the company. "The Customer and Employee Portal is now a mission-critical application for Hellmann and his constant availability has now for many business sectors the highest priority level," says Andreas Goretzky, IS Director Global IT Governance & Compliance. "Currently the solution of more than 25.000 internal and external users will be used - at peak times up to 1.500 users are logged on at the same time."
To ensure the highest possible availability of the portal environment and to optimize the performance of individual services, Hellmann implemented early on a Novell iChain proxy server as the primary access point. This distributed the user request as a reverse proxy on each Web and application server and released by upstream authorization and encryption capabilities, the back-end systems. "We had previously found that a user authentication directly binds a lot of resources on the WebSphere servers," explains Benjamin Kania. "By outsourcing certain processes to the proxy server we have the computational load on the application servers on the other hand significantly reduced."
As the iChain product was discontinued by the manufacturer, Hellmann but had to look for a replacement for this key component. The company was looking for this for a hardware-based solution that proxy functionality including SSL offload and Authentication Offload reflects the reverse and possible offers other technologies for web optimization and security. "It was very important for us also an efficient management concept," stresses Andreas Goretzky. "Our employees should be able to quickly build up the necessary know-how for the administration of the solution."
As part of a comprehensive selection process Hellmann evaluated a number of different products and conducted several proof-of-concept testing. Finally, the decision, the iChain Proxy Server fell through a Citrix NetScaler solution to replace. "An important criterion for us was the price-performance ratio of NetScaler. At the same time convinced us the varied functional possibilities, all of which are housed in an appliance and are controlled via a central management console, "says Benjamin Kania. Working closely with technical specialists of Consulting »Lounge, a unit of michael-wessel.de GmbH, Hellmann implemented first two NetScaler MPX 7500 appliances in the main data center in Osnabrück.
Citrix NetScaler is a universal Application Delivery Controller, which brings together various network functions for optimization, acceleration, protection and monitoring of web applications in a network device. IT administrators of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics are thus now numerous options for traffic management and access control are available.
The NetScaler systems route all requests, which application content be requested, intelligent to the respective correct Web or Application Server on and thus ensure high performance and availability of the Portal services. Decisions for the L4-7 traffic management are made based on flexible load balancing algorithms so that application-specific workloads are distributed evenly across all available web resources. When content switching can be personalized with NetScaler various parameters such as automatically check the user's group affiliation, and control access so that granular. In this way it is ensured that only authorized users gain access to the protected resources of Hellmann. For maximum availability of the entire portal environment ensure continuous server health checks: NetScaler continuously monitors the status of the various back-end server and forwards requests only to continue intact systems that can process the requests also reliable.
The SSL offload functionality of NetScaler accepts for the WebSphere server, the compute-intensive processes of encryption and decryption of data traffic. Moreover, the Citrix solution conserves server resources in the user authentication. The new login process (TAI) method is implemented as Trusted Authentication Interceptor, reduces the CPU load on the back-end systems by five per cent and allows the user to page a time saving of around 15 percent.
Very good results Hellmann has achieved even in the first practical tests with the HTTP Compression technology of NetScaler. The Citrix solution compresses the data streams of web applications before they are delivered to the user, and thus contributes to a significant improvement in application performance. "On average, we could reduce the amount of data transmitted by 30 percent in our tests with NetScaler," Benjamin Kania reported. "This will benefit users in particular in regions with less powerful Internet connections. Each byte, which must not be transmitted via the line, affect these customers directly on the reaction rate of portal applications from"
In the administration of NetScaler appliances Hellmann relies on the management framework Citrix AppExpert. The specialists of the Consulting »Lounge conducted an intensive coaching for the IT organization and made the employees with the possibilities of policy-based management trusts. Benjamin Kania especially appreciates the benefits of AppExpert templates for the administration of the environment: "When we integrate new applications, we can not accept previously saved NetScaler configurations and make the applications as quickly available.Especially when changing our portal system to a more recent version of the AppExpert templates have saved us a lot of work."
In the coming months Hellmann wants to replace in its data centers in Melbourne, Hong Kong and Miami, the existing iChain proxy server by NetScaler systems. The required MPX appliances are already implemented in the three data centers, and currently there support the connection of remote users to the IT infrastructure. The integrated SSL VPN Citrix NetScaler mobile employees or users can access the Home Office on internal IT resources. Worldwide this possibility is already being used by more than 1.500 users. "We have received a lot of positive feedback," says Andreas Goretzky. "The users particularly like that the VPN solution of NetScaler is running very fast and stable and does not require its own client software on the mobile device."
The Purpose of the Citrix networking appliances are thus not yet exhausted the IT manager's opinion: "Based on the good experience we have made during the operation of our customer and employee portal with NetScaler, we want the technology for a further web applications use. Among other things, we think about it, provide our e-commerce offerings and EDI systems via the platform."
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