Grieg Star Shipping

100% IT uptime hits the right note for Grieg Star Shipping

With opening hours 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a huge geographical spread the world over and intensive,high-volume communication, Grieg Star Shipping sets great store by ensuring that its infrastructure and therunning of its IT systems remain shipshape. With Proact as a supplier and NetApp systems as a storage solution, they have yet to experience any appreciable downtime after eight years of operation.

It is no exaggeration to say that Grieg Star Shippingoperations pose a considerable challenge as far as ITis concerned. They cover the whole world. 24 hoursa day. The company faces very unique demands as it has its head office in Bergen and divisional officesin Atlanta, Seoul, Vancouver and Tokyo, as well as agents in every harbour in the world.

Intensive data flow "Everything moves extremely quickly and there isa constant intensive flow of information," says Kirk Wedge, Vice President, Information Technology. “We handle large communication volumes every day, all relating to ship cargoes, shipping movements, logistics coordination, etc. It is not unusual for people to find several hundred messages in their inboxes when they arrive at work in the morning. You may think handling all this is impossible, but infact it all works quite well.”

As a result, GSS has to offer a 24-hour service, 365 days a year, when it comes to IT. They have IT resources on call round the clock, and they achieve this by shifting responsibility around to the divisional offices in the various time zones. They have people working at at least one of the divisional offices at all times. At present, the company has seven IT people working in Bergen, two in Atlanta, three in Vancouver and one in Tokyo.

“They all work together as a virtual team,”explains Wedge. “We have joint global standards for everything we work with in order to make this cooperation as simple as possible. Moreover, we have had this arrangement since the 1970s. We also starting using the Internet very early on, and in fact we switched all communication to the Internet back in 1994. In terms of technology,we try to remain at the ‘bleeding edge’ so as to achieve advantages over our competitors. Our management team focuses on strong IT solutions and is willing to invest in advanced solutions.”

“However, our IT department is relatively traditional,” he continues. “Our staff do pretty much everything, including both programming and operation. We have a lot of in-house solutions due to the fact that we operate in a niche marketlike shipping. Otherwise everything is more orless centralised. A large Oracle database forms the heart of our application solutions, with Lotus Notes as our e-mail system. Otherwise we use general Windows products like most other companies, but we also use a fair bit of Linux in connection with web systems, system jobs, background jobs, etc.The Grieg Star Shipping ERP system is One World,also from Oracle. This is installed and runs in Bergen, but it is also used by all our external offices via the Internet. This system is shared by everyone. Despite the large distances involved, this all works extremely well.”

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