Helping the Largest Ford Dealership go Virtual

When Ford Retail re-launched as TrustFord last year and became the world’s largest dedicated Ford dealership, it chose virtual load balancers from Kemp Technologies to help deliver the high availability and performance needed for its new virtualised IT environment to support a wide range of web-based services and growing e-commerce operation.

Wholly-owned by Ford Motor Company, TrustFord brings together over 65 well known car and van dealership brands including Dagenham Motors, Polar Ford, Brunel Ford, Heartlands Ford and Lindsay Ford. Using the TrustFordOnline web site, customers can browse the full range of vehicles and accessories and either purchase online or contact their nearest dealer.

Such an important rebrand and business change project presented a major challenge for the Ford IT team and its award-winning technology partner, R-Com Consulting. “The new virtual IT infrastructure has to support over 80 sites and almost 3,000 users as well as deliver a good user experience every time for all our online visitors,” explains Keith Taylor, IT Services Manager at Ford.

Ford made the decision to move to a virtualised environment based on VMWare 5.1 and has created a server estate comprising some 80 virtual servers spread across two datacentres in Docklands and Hayes, Middlesex.

“We realised from the start of the project that third-party load balancing would play an important role in delivering high resilience and performance across our large virtualised environment, while also supporting better patch management, server maintenance and upgrades,” said Keith Taylor. “We looked at the options available and selected Kemp Technologies based on price/performance, ease of implementation and management, along with its attractive volume licencing model.”

TrustFord’s IT team installed four Kemp Technologies VLM-200 virtual load balancers in two high availability pairs across its two datacentres. Each Kemp VLM-200 provides throughput up to 200 Mbps to manage client connections to enterprise and web-based applications. Client access requests are directed to the best performing virtual servers based on factors such as concurrent connections, CPU load and memory utilisation to avoid network bottlenecks. And if a server or application fails, the user is automatically re-routed to another functioning server.

The Kemp VLMs support a wide range of business applications from Microsoft Windows 2013, Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013 to specialist TurstFord e-commerce and order processing systems. The VLMs also support the SSL encryption provided by Voltage Security, which means that the 350 managers using laptops for remote access no longer have to rely on setting up VPNs.

TrustFord went live in June last year with this infrastructure and are already reaping the benefits of the solution “The Kemp VLMs were very easy to implement as all the templates we needed were already set up and the support from Kemp was excellent,” said Keith Taylor. “Furthermore, because Kemp licencing is based on volume rather than features, it saves us money and is easy to manage.”

Now the virtualised environment is up and running and delivering high availability and performance, the TrustFord IT team is looking to expand its services including rolling out Lync unified communications to the outside world to further enhance the user experience. Additional projects are being developed to utilise the Kemp security features and provide the much needed access from anyway (Hybrid Cloud) services required within the retail space.

About R-Com Consulting

R-Com are a leading end to end IT Infrastructure Solution Provider. Solutions cover all areas of data storage, virtualisation, networking and security through to cloud enablement allowing clients to take their own individual IT journey to the Cloud. R-Com helps customers design and deploy sophisticated IT Environments into virtual infrastructures to meet the technical capabilities utilising VMware/Microsoft and Trend Micro, amongst others. R-Com can help with all or parts of the process, whether that is a demonstration, setting up IT assessment studies, IT Infrastructure implementation or ongoing IT support

The Kemp VLMs were very easy to implement as all the templates we needed were already set up and the support from Kemp was excellent.
Keith Taylor
IT Services Manager at Ford

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