CHH forges ahead with XP

Carter Holt Harvey says its company-wide upgrade to Windows XP and 2000 is progressing well, though it will probably be completed a month or two behind schedule.

Carter Holt Harvey says its company-wide upgrade to Windows XP and 2000 is progressing well, though it will probably be completed a month or two behind schedule.

Pat O’Connell, Carter Holt Harvey’s new chief of IT, says all the infrastructure for the project, dubbed Xpedite, has been done.

“We’ve got Active Directory in, we’ve done all the design work and piloting and we’re into deployment mode.”

The migration, from Windows 95 to XP and Office XP on desktops and from NT to 2000 on servers, is complicated because each of the company’s 30-odd business units have evolved different IT configurations over the years.

“In the pre-Xpedite environment, we meandered away from standardisation — at each site, we’re encountering a slightly different environment.” Each unit that has its own file and print set-up has been run autonomously, “and they tend to be quite different”.

In all, 5000 desktops and laptops and 150 servers are being upgraded.

“It was something that had to be done, because the technology was getting old,” says O’Connell.

However, getting approval for the $5 million project meant more than asking for a software upgrade purely on technology grounds.

“The business case was made [on the basis of] better management of infrastructure through cost savings and central control of administration.”

One of the difficulties of the upgrade has been running Microsoft Exchange 2000 and 5.5 in mixed mode.

“[It] has given us some challenges, but nothing we weren’t able to overcome with Microsoft’s help.”

The migration is being carried out by Oxygen, CHH’s arms-length IT business unit. While Oxygen contracts to other companies, it remains owned by Carter Holt. As chief of IT, O’Connell is an employee of CHH, not Oxygen, and while Oxygen has more than 200 employees, “at the corporate level, IT [within CHH] is a very small group”. The inhouse IT department retains control of costs, contracts, architectures and strategy. Oxygen does the operational side, “though we’re migrating more administration and management services to Oxygen”.

Other IT projects on the go at CHH include a possible upgrade to SAP R/3 version 4.7.

“That’s not confirmed yet. We’re investigating the business case to do it.” As a major SAP user, getting the most out of the various SAP modules and tools in use is a priority. “We need to keep up to date with APO and Business Warehouse etc.”

Also on the cards is leveraging as much technology as possible from telecommunications.

“We have a big project in Auckland and the central North Island to migrate existing telecomms circuits to fibre so we can run most sites at LAN speeds. That’s an indication of the direction we want to go — consolidation, centralisation, gaining efficiencies.”

That, plus making the most of installed applications, is what O’Connell will be focusing on as chief of IT.

Appointed earlier this month, he replaces Russell Jones, who has moved to the US to work for CHH’s parent company, International Paper.

O’Connell has been with CHH since 1998, when he was recruited from Ernst & Young to work on Y2K issues and has also been IS technical services manager at Telecom.

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