J.R. Simplot Company
J. R. Simplot Company needed a better way to support the technology requirements of its fast-growing agribusinesses. Custom point-to-point integrations between its J.D. Edwards enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and a growing number of third-party applications were taking too much time to develop. The Simplot Company’s enterprise data warehouse and reporting capabilities were struggling to keep up with the increasing business needs. So, Simplot adopted an enterprise application integration solution and data warehouse and reporting solution based on Microsoft® technologies. As a result, the time to implement integrations has been cut from months to weeks. The time to create new reports has been cut from weeks to days. By using the Microsoft Application Platform, Simplot can deliver solutions more efficiently to meet growing business requirements and improve customer service.
Microsoft Server Product Portfolio Customer Solution Case Study Agribusiness Concern Boosts Customer Responsiveness with EAI/EDI Solution Overview “In agribusiness, we have to differentiate ourselves on Country or Region: United States Industry: Agriculture, Manufacturing the basis of customer service and cost. The Microsoft Application Platform is enabling us to do that more Customer Profile The J.R. Simplot Company, based in Boise, effectively.” Idaho, and with 12,000 employees, is an Roger Parks, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, J.R. Simplot agribusiness concern operating throughout Company the United States, Canada, Australia, and Mexico. J. R. Simplot Company needed a better way to support the technology requirements of its fast-growing agribusinesses. Custom Business Situation Simplot needed better ways to integrate its point-to-point integrations between its J.D. Edwards enterprise J.D. Edwards ERP system with third-party resource planning (ERP) software and a growing number of third- applications and to work with its trading partners, and to better organize its party applications were taking too much time to develop. The enterprise data. Simplot Company’s enterprise data warehouse and reporting Solution capabilities were struggling to keep up with the increasing business Simplot adopted a solution based on needs. So, Simplot adopted an enterprise application integration Microsoft® BizTalk® Server and SQL Server™ to streamline internal integration, solution and data warehouse and reporting solution based on facilitate integration with customers and Microsoft® technologies. As a result, the time to implement suppliers, and boost reporting abilities. integrations has been cut from months to weeks. The time to create Benefits new reports has been cut from weeks to days. By using the Integration time cut from months to weeks Microsoft Application Platform, Simplot can deliver solutions more Report creation cut from weeks to days efficiently to meet growing business requirements and improve Provides flexible supply chain coordination customer service. Reduces risk for large, fast-growing business Boosts customer responsiveness “The design review Situation Contract Management System to implement The J.R. Simplot Company likes to describe pricing and contract information for its confirmed that SQL itself as “bringing earth’s resources to life”. dealings with food brokers and customers. Server could support our The private agribusiness operates farms and Simplot quickly had several such special- ranches, potato and vegetable processing purpose third-party applications, each of needs for enterprise plants, agricultural fertilizer production, and which had to be custom-integrated with J.D. performance, scalability, services for growers and farmers. One of the Edwards. things that J.R. Simplot grows best isn’t on and data warehouse that list: itself. With rapidly increasing annual Those custom integrations were time reporting.” revenues now at U.S.$3.4 billion, the consuming, each taking from hundreds of company is one of the largest and fastest- hours up to 2,000 hours to implement. And Roger Parks, Vice President of Information growing private businesses in the United those investments weren’t one-time Technology and Chief Information Officer, States. propositions. Each time either the third-party J.R. Simplot Company applications or J.D. Edwards ERP software As its business has grown, Simplot has was upgraded, Simplot had to update the updated its technology infrastructure to keep integration. up. In the run-up to the year 2000, the company had a series of separate non- “We knew that as we increased our use of integrated systems in its various divisions, third-party applications with J.D. Edwards, the hindering the ability to aggregate data into a situation would quickly become untenable,” single, comprehensive financial view of the says Parks. “We would have to either add entire enterprise, as well as to share data staff or consider outsourcing to manage the from division to division. The company connections. We were looking at spending up conducted a review of five leading enterprise to hundreds of thousands of dollars for these resource planning (ERP) systems and chose integrations.” J.D. Edwards. The second issue facing the company For its J.D. Edwards operating platform, concerned the thousands of electronic Simplot chose the IBM iSeries model 830, business-to-business messages it used every with DB2 as the database. At the time, Roger day. These messages consist of customer Parks, Vice President of Information orders, order confirmations, warehouse Technology and Chief Information Officer, and shipping notices, and inventory information, his colleagues felt that J.D. Edwards was the as well as transportation and shipment most cost-effective platform to run a single location information, all of which must be instance of the solution for their 1,000 passed to the J.D. Edwards ERP software. simultaneous users. One popular choice for doing this through As the company continued to work with its electronic data interchange (EDI) was J.D. Edwards solution, it identified two issues Gentran software by Sterling Commerce. This to address. The first concerned integration of approach had been in place at the Simplot third-party applications. Because of the Company for years, but the software was distinctive nature of its diverse businesses, scheduled to lose support on the iSeries Simplot needed to augment its J.D. Edwards platform. The replacement offering, GIS, ERP software with specialty third-party would have required an implementation as applications, such as IBM’s Data Collection an enterprise application integration (EAI) System for the warehouse management tool, but it wasn’t on the company’s short list needs of its Food Group, and the I-Many for such tools. “Our developers find Business messaging was an important part of BizTalk Server 2006 includes 23 application the company’s vision. It saw coordination of and technology adapters in the box for BizTalk Server extremely supply-chain activities, through business connecting to legacy systems (mainframe and intuitive, with tools that messaging, as crucial to many of its mid-range) and line-of-business applications— commodity-based businesses. And it saw including the J.D. Edwards software that automate much of the connectivity with customers and supply-chain Simplot uses. Simplot decided that BizTalk development process partners—especially when those customers Server would provide the scalability the and partners didn’t support EDI—as crucial company needed to support its growing and streamline the rest. for the company’s continued and increased number of integrations, as well as support an An integration process competitiveness. additional ERP system that Simplot was running for one of its lines of business. that formerly took Simplot had also been working with a BizTalk Server would also provide flexibility months has been cut to business-to-business third-party managed for handling EDI over the Internet. As an services provider, InterTrade, which had added bonus, BizTalk Server cost much less weeks.” sharply reduced the company’s cost of than a competitive solution that the company Roger Parks, Vice President of Information transmitting and receiving EDI messages over considered. Technology and Chief Information Officer, the Internet. Simplot also saw the use of J.R. Simplot Company XML-based messaging and the exchange of The BizTalk Server solution runs on a load- XML-based documents with customers, balanced pair of 64-bit Hewlett-Packard suppliers, service providers and others, as ProLiant DL385 computers, configured in an part of its business messaging vision. Steve active-active cluster for high availability. A Pochardt, IT Director of Enterprise separate pair of ProLiant computers hosts an Performance Optimization, Simplot, was active-active cluster of Microsoft SQL Server™ tasked with working with InterTrade and 2005, the database software for BizTalk Simplot’s other business-to-business partners Server. to identify an integration solution. The solution replaces the previous iSeries- Solution based Gentran EDI software with a single The consensus solution that emerged was inbound and single outbound BizTalk Server based on Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2006, orchestration based on XML to move the business process management server business messaging information between J.D. that enables companies to automate and Edwards and Simplot’s trading partners. optimize business processes. About 35 EDI maps support the orchestrations. A scheduler kicks off EDI To address the integration issue, Simplot transactions every 15 minutes. The solution decided that BizTalk Server 2006, as an EAI currently supports 1.1 million transactions tool, would serve as a single integration point annually. “It’s barely causing BizTalk Server between the J.D. Edwards software and the to churn,” says Jo McCarthy, IT Architect, company’s third-party applications, Simplot. eliminating the need to manage a growing number of custom integrations. And Simplot To address their growing enterprise data engaged InterTrade to assist in transitioning warehousing issue, Simplot hosted Microsoft its EDI transactions and business messaging for a two-day architecture design session to to BizTalk Server 2006, because InterTrade review its existing data architecture and to had already helped another client with the discuss alternatives. “The design review same transition. considered our current use of DB2,” says Parks. “It also confirmed that SQL Server “We expect our new could support our needs for enterprise as quickly as the company’s lines of performance, scalability, and data warehouse businesses need them, eliminating a reports will also enable reporting.” potential drag on the company’s ability to our decision makers to adopt and maintain business solutions that Simplot recently moved its data warehouse deliver competitive advantage. more easily analyze key from DB2 to a pair of clustered computers business issues.” hosting SQL Server 2005. The company is in Report Creation Cut from Weeks to the process of converting its reporting system Days Roger Parks, Vice President of Information to SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services. Now, As it moves to adopt the new data warehouse Technology and Chief Information Officer, it’s exploring Microsoft ProClarity® and and reporting solution, Simplot sees a range J.R. Simplot Company Microsoft Office PerformancePoint™ Server to of additional benefits. Reports that formerly provide analytical capability for business took two weeks or more to create can now be intelligence, such as dashboards with key created in days, reducing the burden on the performance indicators and balanced IT department and getting reports into the scorecards. hands of business users much faster than before. Benefits Simplot has seen drastic reductions in the Faster report creation also means that time and cost of implementing integrations business users will have a broader range of between J.D. Edwards and its third-party reports with which to work, providing greater solutions and in the time it takes to produce support for decision-making. “We expect our reports for business users. Best of all, the new reports will also enable our decision new solution is a foundation for an end-to- makers to more easily analyze key business end supplier-to-customer value chain that will issues,” says Parks. “As the volume of data help to increase customer service while grows, the ability to manage and navigate decreasing costs. through the increased data with enhanced insight is extremely important to our business Integration Time Cut from Months to decision makers.” Weeks Simplot wanted to reduce the thousands of Reduces Risk for Large, Fast-Growing person-hours it took to manage its growing Business range of point-to-point connections among Simplot views its new solution, based on applications. With BizTalk Server, it has the BizTalk Server and SQL Server, as a safe potential to accomplish this. choice for a large and fast-growing business. “With BizTalk Server, we replace the unique, “From a business standpoint, we’re lowering custom connections we needed for each our risk by moving to BizTalk Server and SQL third-party application communicating with Server,” says Pochardt. “We are moving to J.D. Edwards,” says Parks. “Our developers highly supported, cost-effective solutions with find BizTalk Server extremely intuitive, with high availability and fault tolerance. If our tools that automate much of the business-to-business data stream is ever held development process and streamline the up for any reason, the highly efficient rest. An integration process that formerly took processing of BizTalk Server means we can months has been cut to weeks.” catch up with those transactions quickly, always within our 15-minute windows. And if And that in turn means that Simplot’s IT there’s a longer holdup, BizTalk Server will let department can add and update connections us catch up in a single cycle.” For More Information Boosts Customer Responsiveness Microsoft Server Product Portfolio For more information about Microsoft The move to BizTalk Server and SQL Server For more information about the Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft also provides a more strategic benefit to server product portfolio, go to: Sales Information Center at (800) 426- Simplot, according to Parks. “We see the www.microsoft.com/servers/default.mspx 9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Microsoft technologies providing the Canada Information Centre at (877) 568- foundation for an end-to-end solution 2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of- enabling virtualization of our supply chain hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone systems that range from our suppliers to our (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in customers,” says Parks. “With supply chain, the United States or (905) 568-9641 in distribution, and customer information all Canada. Outside the 50 United States and managed in a single, highly automated Canada, please contact your local system, we’ll have time to work more Microsoft subsidiary. To access information efficiently with vendors, and to provide better using the World Wide Web, go to: service to customers. In agribusiness, we www.microsoft.com have to differentiate ourselves on the basis of customer service and cost. The Microsoft For more information about J.R. Simplot Application Platform is enabling us to do that products and services, call (208) 327- more effectively.” 3300 or visit the Web site at: www.simplot.com For example, Simplot has cut the time needed to react to new customer needs. “We are able to modify our processes more quickly to meet changing customer demands for ordering or inventory replenishment,” says Lynn Baker, Director of Enterprise Solution Delivery at Simplot. “When a customer has a particular service need, we can respond to it. That makes us a better supplier.” Simplot envisions similar advantages in using BizTalk Server 2006 to deal with suppliers. “We’re talking with our ingredient suppliers about using the solution to align our production schedules with theirs, to get just- in-time deliveries that reduce our need to maintain inventories of raw supplies,” says Pochardt. Software and Services Technologies Products − Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting − Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 Services − Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Hardware HP ProLiant DL 385 This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published September 2007