Macsteel Service Centres

Macsteel Service Centres SA forms the integral and significant African component of the global Macsteel Holdings Group, which operates in 31 countries worldwide. The Macsteel Service Centres SA Group is Africa's leading merchandiser and distributor of steel and value added steel products.

Sector: manufacturing

“A combination of low cost, low power use and higher specification were the main reasons why we chose VXL over SUN, Wyse & Igel.” Dennis Sterley, IT Director, Macsteel.

The group provides a one-stop service, distributing and processing the full complement of carbon, special steels, stainless steels and speciality steel products to most sectors of industry. Macsteel Service Centres SA consists of 10 business units operating a strategic network of 68 service centres and branches serving the entire Sub-Saharan African region and employing in excess of 5,500 people.

As part of an ongoing commitment to customer service, Macsteel is continually implementing and investing in world class 'best in practice' initiatives including plant, processes, information systems and e-business.

The problem

As a organisation operating from 68 separate locations, the company faced a number of challenges regarding the efficient dissemination of information to the point of need. Initially a WAN infrastructure was created with desktop PC’s at the remote sites linking back to the head office mainframe. However, the large number of PC’s deployed created significant I.T. management and support issues as well as being a target for thieves.

The solution

Macsteel I.T. Director, Dennis Sterley, decided to develop a client server model for the group to address these serious issues and in 2005 began to implement Citrix Presentation Server throughout the organisation. Whilst this addressed many of the issues regarding the support of the Macsteel infrastructure, Sterley realised that to reap the full benefit of the client server infrastructure, required the desktop PC’s to be replaced with thin client units. This would reduce the theft problem and tighten I.T. security. Additionally the rollout and management of desktop units would be far simpler and less costly using thin clients. The Macsteel I.T. group undertook an evaluation of the leading thin client desktops including Wyse, Sun, Igel and VXL.

“In the end, the VXL Itona was a clear winner” explained Sterley. “The unit is reasonably priced, has no moving parts and uses far less power than a PC”. The VXL Itona units are configured at Macsteel HQ and shipped to the various locations throughout the country. There it is a simple “plug & play” operation for the local staff. “There is no need for an army of people to sort things out” added Sterley. VXL’s strong relationship with Citrix as the original “Citrix Ready” partner has proved invaluable during the rollout, as the latest patches and fixes are always available.

The rollout of VXL Itona’s to Macsteel began in 2005 and they replaced the PC’s when they reached their planned end of life. To date nearly 800 VXL Itona desktops have been deployed throughout the organisation, with the assistance of Open Architecture Systems, providing Citrix design and support services to Macsteel and supplied by VXL’s South African Distributor, IT Wise.

The choice of VXL equipment has been a resounding success for Macsteel who have made substantial TCO savings as a result of the decision.

Macsteel are a great example of a successful company with a clear business and I.T. strategy. VXL are proud to be associated with such a company.