Florsheim was started in Chicago in 1892. It sells the well-known Florsheim brand as well as Bogs boots and the Nunn Bush range. Owned by the Weyco Group, Florsheim has 35 physical retail stores in Australia and additional stores in New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Africa. A growing part of the business is online sales. Each region with physical stores also has its own aligned website generating online sales. The Australian headquarters is Melbourne as well as the warehouse/main distribution centre.

Partnering with Kytec, Florsheim replaced ageing HP servers, virtualisation servers and SAN with Cisco Hyperflex which is a hyperconverged platform providing the benefits of reduced power consumption, smaller real estate footprint, easier management, better redundancy, simplicity, improved performance and reliability and faster backups.

Mario Lonigro is the IT Manager at Florsheim. When he came to the role, he identified the increasing risk of their ageing infrastructure – management was difficult, parts were expensive and becoming hard to get, the warranty was lapsing and the hardware was becoming end of life. Mario said “When I train staff, it doesn’t make sense to do it on a legacy platform. I want to have them working on something more modern”.

“The ultimate objective of IT is to support the selling of shoes. IT is really the DNA of the business. We can’t afford to have any issues or outages or our sales will be impacted”.

“But in addition to supporting the business functions, I am always looking for ways we can innovate and do things better. I’m constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘why couldn’t we do this, or that’. I am always looking for opportunities to do things more cost effectively, better or automate processes.”

Switching to the new platform took some planning. As a first step, an audit was done to classify the workloads and the migration was subsequently phased. First, testing was done on a subset of VM’s and migration completion time measured. During the live migration, low priority workloads were moved first, during business hours, while the high priority workloads were migrated during a specified window out of hours.

“The migration was seamless. The measure of success was that nobody in the business even noticed! Preparation and planning saved us time in the end and helped everything to happen smoothly. Kytec was great to work with and did everything they said they would do, as well as dealing with the small, but unplanned issues that came up during the process”.

“A huge benefit of a hyperconverged solution is the baked-in redundancy. You definitely need to manage risk and have a ‘plan B’ for everything. Achieving planned outcomes and minimising ‘IT excuses’ is the direction the business is heading towards”.

“When we started looking for a solution, I knew Cisco would be a high-quality solution, but I also expected to pay a higher price. I was pleasantly surprised, that by working with Kytec, not only did we end up with the best solution, but also the lowest price”.

“If I were to give tips to others based in our experience it would be to:

  • When seeking funding, don’t only highlight the benefits (cost-benefit analysis) to senior management and the board, also highlight the risks of not doing anything. This will get their attention

  • Plan and test extensively before doing the live migration

  • Always challenge yourself, and the business. How can you innovate? How can you be more cost effective? How can you be more efficient. What can you automate and simplify?

We tend to have an ongoing program of improvement and change. When we have success with one project, it’s easy to get funding and support for the next project”.