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Case Study: Kauffman Tire Protects Applications with SSAE 16 and PCI-compliant Cloud

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Seventy-five years ago, Kauffman Tire was a single gas station in Wooster, Ohio. Today, with over 50 automotive service stores and numerous distribution and commercial centers located throughout six states, the now Atlanta-based, family-owned organization is the quintessential American success story.

The Challenge

Like many other retail companies, Kauffman Tire depends on numerous software applications to support almost every facet of its daily operations — from customer service to its e-commerce websites. The company’s CIO, Richard Aldredge, had made a point of assuring that nothing would ever happen to compromise these systems. For years, he required his staff to perform daily backups and regular monitoring and testing of every system that makes up Kauffman’s IT architecture.

One day a tornado touched down just a mile away from the company’s Atlanta headquarters where its main servers were located. What if the tornado had taken the building out or just shut down power? Even one day without power at the company’s headquarters could shut down business at every single Kauffman Tire location. A deliberate malware attack could conceivably do the same.

Aldredge considered distributing servers among different company locations to mitigate such a possibility but did not see how that precaution alone would guarantee uptime. Disasters, whether in the form of weather events or malware attacks, could strike anywhere. He also didn’t have the resources to manage such a solution.

Then there was the issue of Kauffman Tire’s legacy operating systems not supporting the latest version of the company’s primary ERP application or being able to integrate with newer versions of other applications. It would cost the company hours of staff time and a major outlay of capital to overhaul its IT infrastructure.

Further complicating things was the fact that, as a retail organization, Kauffman Tire was required to meet PCI DSS requirements for security.

“Disasters, whether in the form of weather events or malware attacks, could strike anywhere.”

The Peak 10 Solution

The Kauffman Tire management team took a long look at the company’s objectives. Kauffman Tire’s business was customer service. It was time to find a partner whose business was technology.

Having spent nearly 25 years building Kauffman’s IT architecture, Aldredge had very exacting criteria for whomever he chose to take it to the next level. Only service providers with data centers rated as “tier 2” or higher were considered. One company ultimately stood out from the rest: Peak 10.

With data centers in 10 key U.S. markets, each with uninterruptible power, multiple Internet connections, fire suppression and redundant HVAC, Peak 10 offered the enterprise-class facilities that could help Kauffman Tire withstand even the most severe disasters. But what about the people who ran those facilities?

“The Peak 10 team immediately grasped the scale of what I was looking for — a fully managed and modernized architecture — and were clearly versed in the retail industry’s PCI compliance requirements,” Aldredge recalled. “From a logistics standpoint, it was extremely helpful that Peak 10 had operations in the Atlanta area, close to Kauffman’s headquarters but not too close.”

Aldredge was also impressed with Peak 10’s ability to offer Kauffman Tire a number of tailored options for a virtual IT architecture. To protect Kauffman’s critical business applications 24 hours a day, Peak 10 provided the company with an SSAE 16 and PCI-compliant cloud in its Atlanta facility, fully managed by Peak 10’s expert engineers, and a virtual recovery cloud at one of Peak 10’s North Carolina technology campuses. This would ensure rapid access to business data in the event of a disaster, and also upgraded Kauffman to an operating system that could support the latest versions of all its business applications.

The Results

“Everything is redundant and regularly backed up. I no longer have to worry about who is doing this anymore,” Aldredge noted. “And the moment one of our e-commerce websites needs extra capacity, it’s instantly there. I don’t have to go shopping for a new server.”

With decades of experience and a front row view of technology’s evolution in retail, Aldredge is a firm believer in Peak 10’s virtual infrastructure for support of Kauffman Tire’s IT needs. He also understands that, regardless of all of the enthusiastic buzz about cloud technology, his peers want to know about the tangible benefits.

“You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind, but you can guess how much one day of lost business could cost your company. Seeing how effectively Peak 10 protects our business, I can’t imagine doing everything in-house again,” he said.

“We’re definitely saving money in the long run with new opportunities to move faster and be more flexible thanks to the technologies and skill sets at Peak 10 that we didn’t have before.”

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest