Stratus has a competitive edge thanks to changes in its Logistics and Services.
By Alan Dorich
Since Stratus Technologies’ start 36 years ago, many competitors have entered and exited its market, but the Maynard, Mass.-based company has become a leader in its business. “We’ve truly been able to stand the test of time,” Vice President of Services, Supply Chain and Chief Quality Officer Dave Harrington says. “That speaks volumes about our people, products and processes.”
The ability to rely on those is essential since Stratus provides software and hardware platforms that ensure that infrastructures – ranging from enterprise services to clouds – are always operating. Customers worldwide depend on Stratus to protect their most valuable business critical apps., Harrington adds.
These include clients in industrial automation, financial services and telecommunications. “We also have a significant presence in healthcare, public safety, government and transportation,” he states.
Stratus thrives, Harrington says, by being intently focused on its customers. “We view the world through the customer’s lens. We have very strong leadership in all regions of the world with a set of key processes that we consistently review to make sure they’re effective and contemporary in serving our customers the way they should,” he states.
Harrington joined Stratus in 2009. At that time, he implemented initiatives to transform its Production and Logistics value chains.
That included restructuring its domestic-centric production supply chain to one that was more Asian-based, which also moved its hardware production to Japan in 2010. Stratus also ensured that its new value chain had the systematic capability to provide worldwide customer order fulfillment, guaranteeing predictably consistent customer service.
Harrington and his team organized customer-focused transition teams to implement all of the changes needed to improve Stratus’ supply chain. That has proven to be very successful for the company, he reports.
“We’re saving the company tens of millions of dollars,” Harrington says. “We’ve also expanded our transformation to include more Logistics Operations and have implemented a Service transformation as well.”
Stratus, he explains, constantly looks for competitive advantages in speed, cost and flexibility in its Service and Logistic operations. “As an example, we’ve optimized our service around the globe,” he says. “That includes employing partners who manage our first line of support for both hardware and software products.”
Hiring partners with a common focus builds the best foundation for success, Harrington asserts. “If your partner has a different focus than you, then you’re never going to be successful,” he says.
“So, it’s critically important for us to articulate our vision of what see as the ideal partner. In turn, the partner must demonstrate that capability to us,” he says. “Then we wrap a collaborative set of key performance indicators around the process and measure our collective performance.”
Stratus’ changes have made it more responsive to customers and more cost-effective, as well as better at anticipating problems. However, the company always has a risk management plan in place should things go awry, Harrington says.
“Significant initiatives never go 100 percent to plan,” he admits. “Your team must have good anticipatory skills, it’s critical to have a risk management plan in place because if you panic, you’ll make the wrong decision every time.”
But Stratus ensures its transformation initiatives are successful by utilizing what Harrington describes as a Precision Planning Model. “Its foundation is in five distinct categories or phases of planning,” he says. “It starts with an investigation phase then justification, followed by planning and implementation phases and finally the all-important execution phase.
“We methodically move through these phases and don’t move to the next phase until we’re satisfied that all elements in that phase are satisfied,” he says. “All the while, this is managed via a three-dimensional focus on financial, informational and operational aspects as well.”
Stratus ensures it has a consistent structure globally, Harrington says. “It starts with a foundation of solid fundamentals in the way of processes and tools, enabled by strong leadership in the region, with excellent support and counsel from headquarters when required,” he says.
The company is a firm believer in the old axiom to “think globally and act locally,” Harrington says. “Every region has its own idiosyncrasies and we have a core set of processes that we use around the globe.”
Stratus gives its regional teams the ability to modify those processes when required. “We don’t have a strict policy that says, ‘You will do it this way around the globe,’” he says. “One size doesn’t fit all.”
Stratus chose to utilize FedEx for all of its transportation needs. “We’re very impressed with FedEx’s global breadth,” Harrington says, noting that Stratus uses the company for other logistics services also.
“FedEx has a customer view of things that’s similar to ours,” he continues, noting that Stratus has employed the company since 2013. “FedEx has demonstrated that their worldwide ability to manage people, processes and product has provided us with an advantage in our logistics operations around the globe.”
At the Forefront
Harrington is proud of Stratus and the transformations it has made in its supply chain, logistics and services. “In this business, I believe you either evolve or you die,” he says.
“We’ve chosen to take a contemporary look at things and make sure we’re at the forefront of the evolution,” Harrington says. “I see a bright future for Stratus in the markets we serve, the products we produce, and especially in new markets, such as Industrial Automation and IIoT.
“Stratus supports Industrial Automation customers by providing the simplest, most productive IIoT/edge availability solutions for a smart connected world. At Stratus, we believe in today’s world, the criticality of analytics and IoT to real-time processes means that 100 percent availability at the edge is a must for decision-making and optimal operations. Stratus takes the complexity out of keeping business critical applications running 24/7, and our technologies proactively prevent instances of unplanned downtime both in the data center and at the edge, and our services ensure any issues are addressed before customers need to.”
Harrington adds that he will continue following his six keys to success: prioritizing costs and benchmarking vs. the best of the business, emphasizing speed and agility, thinking quality, developing strategic partner relationships, sourcing globally and optimizing internal relationships.
Stratus Technologies offers its clients flexible products. “Whether [they’re] looking to protect [their] always-on applications in demanding virtualized and cloud environments, or in a traditional data center, we have a solution that will integrate into [their] chosen environment,” the company says.
Its products are also easy to deploy and manage, allowing its clients’ existing applications to operate without the risk and expense associated with modifications or complex scripting, Stratus says. “Our high availability solutions integrate into [the client’s] existing operating system environments to deliver always-on performance quickly and simply, eliminating the need to separately manage downtime prevention tools for each operating system,” it says.
The company has earned a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate with its work. “Our team of availability experts are on hand 24/seven/365 and are alerted to any potential problems before they impact the continuous running of your applications,” the company says.
“System monitoring and diagnostics are active continuously, not just after an event has caused a problem, assuring [the client’s] operations are always on and eliminating the time, revenue, reputational, life and resource risk factors associated with operational failure,” it says.
Stratus’ offerings include its everRun software solution, a key feature provides users full visibility across their infrastructure. This allows continuous monitoring so clients can predict performance issues in advance, and avoid unplanned downtime and data loss, the company says.
“For solutions that must not fail — at the edge of the network, in any industry, in any size organization — everRun is the continuous availability solution you can rely on to meet your ever increasing demands in this always-on world,” Stratus says.
everRun can link two servers together through a visualization platform that unites protected virtual machines to create a single operating environment. “The entire application environment, including data in memory, is replicated by everRun, ensuring applications continue to run without interruption or data loss,” Stratus says.