Bright Horizons, Watertown, Mass., a corporate child-care company that provides early education and care for more than 65,000 children in the United States and Canada, wanted to find a way to share information between its more than 600 locations. Its intranet, running on Macromedia's Cold Fusion platform, wasn't up to the task of providing information to its 16,000 teachers.
Tim Young, vice president of IT at Bright Horizons, wanted to find a technology that would work in the company's Linux environment, so he took the project to bid and Whitbread Technology Partners, Burlington, Mass., won the job.
Bright Horizons had made its own decision to go with Oracle because it was already running Oracle applications in its environment.
The child-care company wanted a solution provider that understood the ins and outs of Oracle's Fusion Middleware stack, specifically the Oracle 10G Portal v 10.1.4, an area in which Whitbread Technology Partners specializes. Young said he felt the product was a better fit for the company's needs than Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server.
"We were looking for partners to help take this journey with us, and through relationship-building, Whitbread became that partner. Whitbread took an approach that really differentiated them from others. They were so confident they could deliver a solution for us that they gave us a complimentary workshop and helped us map out our project road map to move to the portal. They're doing a phenomenal job," Young said.
"The global portal project is a multiphase project, and we are in the initial phases of transforming our current intranet to the Oracle portal within a Linux-based infrastructure. Linux was chosen because of scalability, performance, reliability and cost," he said.
"We run our critical business applications on the Unix platform, and we have defined the portal as a critical business application," Young added. "Unix just runs. The only time these systems are down is to perform patching or maintenance."
The decision suited Whitbread Technology Partners' expertise, but it was the process of educating the customer on how to use the technology, not the technology itself, that presented the biggest challenge.
"From a Linux standpoint, there were no challenges at all in this implementation," said Erez Azaria, practice director at Whitbread Technology Partners. "The Oracle software is well-suited to running in the Linux environment. The biggest challenges have more to do with just getting over the learning curve of the newer technology. The folks [at Bright Horizons] were used to working in a Cold Fusion environment," Azaria said.
"The Oracle portal is a great product, but I would recommend finding a partner who has the depth of product experience to help you navigate and connect the pieces," Young said.
For Bright Horizons, the new intranet portal is the first step in transforming the way it provides employees with access and performs identity management, and Whitbread Technology Partners' services and support will be integral in ensuring that the child-care company makes a smooth transition.
"One of our portal goals is standardizing on a global security model with single sign-on into all of our resources," Young said. "We are also transforming the current employee experience on our existing intranet from a department-oriented experience to an employee-oriented experience in the portal."
Young said he envisions adding business intelligence layers and executive dashboards over the coming years as the portal grows more robust and Bright Horizons employees begin to use it as a way to access all of the company's mission-critical business applications.
"The vision is to have our global community navigate to the portal, log in once and have access to all of the information they need companywide right in front of them." he said.
For Whitbread Technology Partners, specializing in Oracle middleware implementations has helped it not only get its foot in the door with Bright Horizons, but also has put the solution provider in the position of trusted adviser.
"The important component of the project for us is teaching them how to use it and move forward," Azaria said. "We talk about being a partner to our customers, and that's very important to us."