Affinity Apparel grew out of a recent divestiture of GK Direct from G&K
Services in Minneapolis to Resilience Capital Partners, a private equity
organization out of Cleveland Ohio. As part of the G&K organization, all IT
services for GK Direct were provided out of the Minneapolis parent location.
With the divestiture, the newly minted Affinity Apparel organization was facing
a large up-front capital expenditure to provide the core IT infrastructure that G&K Services provided previously.
In addition, while it was estimated that it would take approximately 15 to 18 months to migrate Affinity Apparel to a new ERP business management platform, the Affinity Apparel executive management team wanted very quickly to be able to communicate with their external customers and partners as the rebranded Affinity Apparel organization and retire the GK Direct brand.
While Affinity Apparel continued to use their previous ERP business management platform that was provided by G&K Services, they needed a fairly robust Windows Server infrastructure and new Active Directory environment to support their new Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP business management platform, which was being architected and developed rapidly after the divestiture.
Affinity Apparel engaged Stratus Innovations Group to provide a 3-year IT roadmap to address their needs and requirements as they came out of the G&K Services divestiture as well as provide a growth platform to support future acquisitions for market acceleration. The initial implementation of this roadmap was a migration from the existing G&K Services Lotus Notes platform to Office 365 for all of Affinity Apparel's communication and collaboration needs.
Additionally, we provided a technical and financial business case to deploy their core infrastructure and new Active Directory domain in Microsoft Azure via an Azure Virtual Network, which spanned across the Affinity Apparel Dayton, OH-based headquarters, their Mt. Sterling, KY distribution center, and a newly acquired organization in Moultrie, GA.
Finally, as part of the Managed Services of Affinity Apparel's Dynamics AX
environment, we provided their newly developed Dynamics AX Application Health
Manager, which was used for proactive management, monitoring, alerting and IT
self-healing at the transaction level of Affinity Apparel's Dynamics AX
environment, which is based on the Microsoft Azure Operations Management Suite service.
The initial benefit that Affinity Apparel was able to recognize was how quickly they could communicate to their customer base in the newly minted Affinity Apparel brand, while rolling out this same branded image to their internal employee base via the Office 365 communication and collaboration platform, outside of the previous G&K Services parent IT environment.
Additionally, given how easily and quickly their Microsoft Azure IaaS environment was set up,
they were able to quickly deploy new IT services internally, and provide a robust and scalable platform for their Dynamics AX implementation partner to develop their new ERP business management platform. This prevented the Dynamics AX implementation partner from being impacted by internal processes and procedures of the previous G&K Services parent. When coupled with the comparison of the massive up-front investment that would be needed to purchase all of this IT infrastructure, the financial business case of using Microsoft Azure was incredibly strong.
Lastly, they were able to take advantage of the innovative and customized Dynamics AX Managed Services platform via the Stratus Innovations Group AX Application Health Manager.
This solution, which is based on Azure Operations Management Suite, provides Affinity Apparel with an intuitive dashboard and systems management platform to easily and quickly manage and troubleshoot any production Dynamics AX issues.