22 July 2016

If the movement of goods and aiming to delight customers is at the heart of logistics company Mainfreight’s operations, then its people and information technology systems are the lifeblood. With its systems considered core to successful operations, the global supply chain leader has long looked to Sandfield to provide its business critical applications. More recently, it put the administration of the databases into the safe hands of Sandfield DBA Services. As a result, Mainfreight enjoys better application performance, less downtime and a smoother running business.

Mainfreight is a global supply chain business with over 200 branches internationally. It offers sophisticated logistics solutions in and out of the most dynamic economies in the world.
David Hall, Group IT Infrastructure Manager, notes that Sandfield has delivered business applications and support over the long term. “Sandfield has been a partner for 20-plus years, longer even than I’ve been here. It has been heavily involved in the development of our transport and warehouse management systems, and over last few years taken on more of a support role,” he relates.

Challenge

The longevity of the relationship has some influence on Sandfield’s ability to uniquely provide value-added database administration (DBA), continues Hall. “With our DBA provider intimately familiar with the applications, they know what needs to be done from both a database and application perspective to get things working well,” he confirms.

"They know what needs to be done from both a database and application perspective to get things working well"

Hall notes that all of Mainfreight’s key business systems run on data contained in Microsoft SQL databases. “As a result, it is essential that the databases are optimised, secured and monitored to ensure that the applications which sit on top of them perform to the company’s expectations.” Achieving that, in turn, “Relies on people who are the best at what they do,” Hall adds.

Solution

Having run DBA in-house for some time, he says Mainfreight team members eventually reached the limit of their knowledge. “We realised that either we’d need to employ additional people, or we could outsource support to a suitable partner.”

While Hall stresses that Mainfreight is "big on long term partnerships" (evidenced by the two-decade plus relationship with Sandfield), he also points out that it is good business practice to test the market. “We tried several suppliers of DBA services, but were met with limited success. However, with Sandfield’s DBA Services division, the difference in the skills and knowledge it could deliver was immediately apparent.”

Beyond knowing the code and knowing the applications, Hall says Sandfield DBA Services also brings a team of specialised people to the monitoring, administration, management and support of Mainfreight’s databases. “That means more resources and more intelligence to anticipate and solve issues, often long before they are even apparent to the business. We’ve recognised that Sandfield has very good capability in this space and a diversity of experience that cannot be matched by in-house resources.”

"Looking back, putting Sandfield in charge of our databases is one of the best decisions we've made"

Results

Agreeing that databases are something of a ‘back room’ operation with which most people in any business have very little to do, Hall says the very best databases are those which aren’t noticed at all. “Databases need to be fed and watered like pets or plants, or they wither and die. Even so, regardless of whether you’re in IT management or line-of-business, dealing with database problems is the last thing you want to be spending time on.”

Since outsourcing the DBA to Sandfield, he says Mainfreight has benefited from less administration, less downtime through proactive maintenance and support, and the reallocation of personnel to more productive roles “And all that adds up to the business being able to get on with it. Looking back, putting Sandfield in charge of our databases is one of the best decisions we’ve made,” Hall concludes.

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