Demand Generator: Mitchell Kleinman, CCS Technology Solutions

The Client: Chick's Sporting Goods

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When CCS Technology Solutions was brought in to install its Island Pacific software, the solution provider used the introduction as a springboard to build a long-standing business relationship with Chick's Sporting Goods, a Southern California retail chain.

"When [Island Pacific's] clients choose CCS as a vendor, we don't just come in and do the task at hand," said Mitchell Kleinman, executive vice president at Irvine, Calif.-based CCS. "We look at the customer's infrastructure and offer expertise. We're in the business of helping clients optimize their IT infrastructure and investment."

>> UPSIDE FOR THE VAR: CCS was able to develop a lasting relationship with Chick's Sporting Goods and became a trusted IT adviser, generating revenue over several years and several projects.
>>  THE CUSTOMER VIEW: Chick's has a streamlined network and has reduced IT costs through server and software upgrades, allowing employees to better communicate across multiple locations.
>>  VENDORS REPRESENTED: CCS brought in an IBM iSeries system to run Island Pacific software, Lotus Notes and Domino. Other IBM servers run as Microsoft Terminal Services and VMware.


CCS began its relationship with Chick's during a software upgrade and has since done several other projects with the retail chain, Kleinman said.
"They came to us when we were upgrading our merchandising system," said Erin Diebold, director of MIS at Chick's Sporting Goods. "We were moving to Island Pacific, and they recommend CCS for the purchase of our IBM AS400 [servers]. That is how we were introduced to CCS."

However, once the merchandising system upgrade was completed, CCS was able to present the retail chain with several other IT upgrades and opportunities to help streamline its business processes.

"With the retail industry, you have companies that are trying to manage growth and are running into situations where their IT environment isn't supporting that growth," said Phillip Hice, project manager at CCS. "Forty percent of retail companies' IT budgets are going toward growth-oriented initiatives while at the same time keeping up with cost savings."

With several Chick's locations around Southern California, CCS had a range of opportunities to get involved with Chick's IT infrastructure.

The first step was upgrading Chick's e-mail system and consolidating its Compaq servers running Microsoft software.

"We were on Microsoft Exchange and having multiple problems with that," Diebold said. "They [CCS] came to us and said, 'Now you have AS400, and [IBM Lotus] Domino is native on the 400.' They came with the recommendation to convert us to Lotus."

CCS replaced Chick's system with an IBM iSeries system running IBM Lotus Notes and Domino.

"We wanted less paper in the office and a more streamlined workflow that Domino would allow us to do when we got the resources and the time to implement those things," Diebold said. "Once we had done those two projects, they've been involved in every project we've done—both big and small."

CCS helped consolidate the retail chain's communications infrastructure, replacing T1 and data lines from several vendors and consolidating their network. CCS installed a firewall at Chick's headquarters and reconfigured the chain's Cisco Systems routers.

Implementing Microsoft Terminal Services running on a VMware virtual machine and thin-client networks was also a CSS-driven initiative. Rather than purchase free-standing PCs with individual software licenses, CCS brought in Terminal Services and the chain now runs thin clients off of a central network.

CCS also helped Chick's with a backup and recovery system.

"They are able to pretty much solve any problem that we've had," Diebold said. "I am very pro-CCS. I'm very happy with them. They were really involved in the operations at Chick's."

While Diebold said that Chick's has no specific plans for IT upgrades in the immediate future, she's keeping an open mind.

"I trust them, so usually if they have a recommendation, I'm very willing to do it," she said.

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