China Shipping consolidates 18 IT systems into one

China Shipping (Group) Company, one of the largest shipping conglomerates in China with headquarters in Shanghai, has bared plans to consolidate its IT systems across 18 subsidiary business units into one central IT data center to enjoy cost savings, improve efficiency, drive collaboration, and deliver consistent quality service throughout the group.

The continuing economic uncertainties in Europe and the US are putting pressure on the global shipping industry, which is reflected in declining demands and excess capacity. To stay competitive in an extremely challenging market requires a keen focus on operational effectiveness and cost control. China Shipping saw the need to review its IT policies to ensure it is making optimum use of available resources in order to remain competitive and grow its business.

Xu Wei, IT Operation Department Manager, China Shipping (Group) Company, said they have experienced unprecedented business growth in both domestic and international markets. “At the same time, we saw the need to have better visibility over our subsidiary businesses if we are to continue to meet our stated goal of becoming a global force in the international shipping business. To achieve better economies of scale and bring us to international levels of IT governance and compliance, we realized that centralizing our IT was the right course to take,” he remarked.

Prior to this project, each of the China Shipping subsidiaries operated its own IT system. The disparate systems resulted in inefficient and ineffective utilization of IT resources across the subsidiaries. There was also a general lack of standards and governance, which led to varied IT investment policies and strategies across subsidiaries. This resulted in inconsistent quality of service delivery and lack of collaboration as some subsidiaries lacked sufficient human resources to pursue application development to support business growth.

To effect a significant change in the overall IT strategy, China Shipping recognized it needed external help to introduce international best practices and expertise to help consolidate its disparate systems for the entire organization.

“We needed a partner who has good understanding of business, had a presence in the markets where we operate, and the ability to address our specific requirements for each subsidiary. More importantly, we needed someone we could trust to guide us in our quest to become a truly modern global business organization,” said Xu.

After carefully studying the Group’s business processes, including the IT operations across its 18 subsidiaries, Dimension Data proposed a solution to consolidate the Group’s IT infrastructure onto a centralized platform, where each subsidiary backs up all its IT requirements to a single central data centre. Such a move would enable the Group to consolidate all IT purchases, including hardware, software and applications, into one location. This approach will enable it to achieve better equipment utilization through virtualization. More importantly, it will enable the group to develop a strategic IT framework that can be used for deploying future business-critical applications as needed.

“The challenge in such a consolidation exercise is to understand the requirements of all parties involved and find a common ground that ensures central control and management and yet without sacrificing the agility and flexibility that the subsidiary business need to grow and respond quickly to local needs,” said Francis Yip, General Manager, Dimension Data China.

The new IT architecture will leverage a Microsoft platform encompassing Windows Server and SQL Server. VMware technology will be the virtualization platform to consolidate the server resources, and a unified communication infrastructure will facilitate collaboration routed through a SharePoint portal. Dimension Data will provide consulting services and integration of the entire infrastructure, as well as the single point of accountability throughout the design and implementation phase of the project, Dimension Data will also provide training for the IT employees and maintenance for all the equipment post-setup.