The company wants to master the increasing demand in online trading by modernizing its IT infrastructure. As a result, customers are more satisfied, sales increase and new markets are opened up. Villeroy & Boch connects A sense of tradition with a spirit of innovation and stands for class and sophistication. Since it was founded in 1748, the company has developed into one of the world’s leading brands in the ceramics industry and a lifestyle brand at the same time.
Villeroy & Boch has its headquarters in the picturesque Old Abbey in Mettlach in Saarland. With 14 production sites in Europe, Asia and America as well as 7,500 employees in 125 countries, the group has been listed since 1990. The corporate divisions of Villeroy & Boch AG are divided into bathroom and wellness as well as table culture. Numerous design and innovation prizes attest to the constant further development of the premium brand, which today sets new standards in product development and digitization, including the distribution channels.
IT infrastructure: awareness of tradition in growing e-commerce
The shift in the market towards e-commerce is not leaving Villeroy & Boch unscathed, and so the ceramic manufacturer has set itself the goal of developing the digitization strategy and the associated one Growth in online business to advance. A continuous increase in global online trade, in particular the shift in consumer behavior, inevitably requires state-of-the-art IT solutions. In order to guarantee its global brand presence, to remain competitive and to master the digital transformation efficiently, Villeroy & Boch must increase its own innovative strength, expand its adaptability and flexibility, and reduce costs.
In addition, the technical requirements for the group, especially for the company’s own Product Experience Management, consisting of a product information system (PIM) and a media asset management system (MAM), has increased significantly: The manufacturer’s range is growing continuously, there is more traffic on the websites and in the e-shops, so higher performance and performance is required. At the same time, however, the existing hardware was reaching its limits, so that modernization was inevitable in order to meet the growing demands.
Efficient storage system for digital asset management
“Our aim is to provide high-quality content for the sales channels as quickly as possible in a standardized and efficient manner,” explains Erik Heinen, Team Lead CIT eBusiness, Villeroy & Boch. “The big question was how we can best combine content, creation and technology, right through to the export.” In order to be able to offer the appropriate quality and speed, systems have to develop further. For this reason, Villeroy & Boch opted for a cloud-based model at an early stage and understood the advantages of an OPEX-based IT model over a CAPEX-based model.
Villeroy & Boch approached OVHcloud as early as 2014 in order to promote digital transformation and migration to the cloud. The goal of OVHcloud is to provide customers with innovative technologies for data centers. “In 2014 we migrated our entire web landscape to the OVHcloud, which is based on VMware infrastructure based, ”says Jens Schneider, Senior Web Engineer, Villeroy & Boch. “At that time the scope was still manageable: The resources comprised 20 virtual machines, from web servers to database servers to load balancers. Since then we have developed an enormous demand for capacity – now we have 90 VMs. ”
IT infrastructure: conversion to a hybrid data center
Since the migration six years ago, the demands on the IT infrastructure, including the Villeroy & Boch hardware, have increased significantly – the switch to more innovative and newer technology was inevitable in order to remain powerful: A milestone for the group was the switch to a hybrid , Cloud-based data center based on VMware vSAN 6.5 in 2020. “We are relying on the latest storage technology for our PIM and MAM systems and thanks to the retrofit we can achieve a significant gain in performance, ”comments Erik Heinen.
“We wanted to implement a migration without great downtime. For this reason, we invested enough time in advance in the proof of concept until we could efficiently relocate the comprehensive IT infrastructure, consisting of 100 terabytes of data storage, in less than twelve hours”, adds Khaled Allab, Sales Director Enterprise at the OVH Group.
OVHcloud offers live testing of the PIM application
Due to the long-standing and very successful partnership with OVHcloud, there was no question for Villeroy & Boch to change providers. “We have been using OVHcloud Enterprise Support for two years now, which enables us to test new applications in a live environment and to base investment decisions on them. Enterprise support is a must, because in the end the total cost of ownership is decisive, ”confirms Erik Heinen.
OVHcloud first tested the new PIM application, which is now extremely profitable, live in a clone environment in order to then determine a meaningful implementation in the new system. This live test gave Villeroy & Boch a comprehensive insight into all tools without any nasty surprises. This made it clear to Villeroy & Boch what advantages the new technology of the PIM application would bring. “As the first VMware VCCP partner in Europe, OVHcloud gives its customers the opportunity to test the latest VMware technologies. We are happy to enable Villeroy & Boch to enter the vSAN technology, ”adds Khaled Allab.
Less effort, better performance and 70 percent uplift
The decision to pursue a strategy to modernize the data center based on vSAN enabled a 70 percent performance uplift of the critical applications in the area of product experience management. This lever was decisive for optimizing the entire architecture of the web landscape. “Our entire e-commerce turnover also depends on high-quality, first-class content, in particular on the PIM system,” says Erik Heinen. “The new hardware is significantly more powerful and enables us to control critical applications more efficiently.” A potential failure of the critical systems and web applications at Villeroy & Boch is synonymous with a loss of sales.
Erik Heinen and his six-person team manage the entire enterprise content management systems via OVHcloud, including the PIM, which guarantees the availability of the products across all channels. Briefly explained: Information from product development reaches the ERP system, from which it is enriched with master and logistics data and forwarded to the PIM system.
Provided with content marketing information, they are diverted for various online and offline channels. “It’s always about making the entire product range up-to-date and available across all channels,” explains Jens Schneider. For Villeroy & Boch, it is essential to automate the transfer to e-commerce channels such as its own web shop, the Otto Group or Amazon.
Responsibility for the IT infrastructure lies in one hand
Villeroy & Boch was able to significantly increase its performance and thus achieve a shorter time-to-market. “All stakeholders benefit from the migration,” says Erik Heinen. “We have fewer support requests from the departments, so that resources are freed up and the management effort is significantly reduced.” The system is a lot more efficient: Customers can find relevant product information in e-shops, such as Otto or Amazon, more quickly and thus meet them make more informed purchase decisions. Erik Heinen is happy: “In the end, sales increase. And the responsibility for the infrastructure always rests in one hand. ”
Today, the group benefits from cost savings and faster time to market for new products. Thanks to innovative solutions, the ceramics manufacturer from Mettlach is in no way inferior to the global competition: international expansion with a focus on new growth markets can be advanced and global presence and brand stability can be guaranteed. The user experience is continuously improved thanks to the higher availability of the services provided via OVHcloud.
Awareness of tradition and technical innovation go hand in hand
For the future, the Mettlach-based ceramic manufacturer plans to develop new applications and implement the complete VMware Cloud Foundation stack in the OVHcloud data center. The next steps are in the direction of network virtualization with VMware NSX, vRealize Automation and Kubernetes.
“We continue to strive to continuously improve our IT architecture so that peaks and failures can be better absorbed,” explains Erik Heinen. Villeroy & Boch continues to advance innovative topics: “OVHcloud and VMware have supported us in successfully adapting our business model to the required technological innovations and market conditions,” concluded Heinen. (sg)
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