Specsavers move global directory services to Open Source

Specsavers has completed a three-month project to scale its OpenLDAP directory services across six countries, as it gears up for further global expansion.

Specsavers wanted a global solution for user lookup, authentication and access control with distributed administration capabilities. The existing proprietary LDAP-based solution was not deemed sufficiently scalable. It was decided that Open Source alternatives were mature enough to provide a more cost-effective and stable long term platform. With support from Sirius Corporation, the European Open Source service group, Specsaver's IT department made the transition to an Open Source network architecture.

OpenLDAP integrated with Samba, popular Open Source alternatives to Active Directory and Windows-style file and print, allow Specsavers to control employee access to data and applications based on their job role. Both Open Source technologies come without licensing fees yet offer enterprise-class functionality. Simplified administration of the new system has been delegated to each country using the Open Source management tool, GOsa.

Michel Khan, Group IT Director, Specsavers Optical Group said: "One of the big drivers for us was growth. In 2003 Specsavers had 500 stores with a target to achieve the 1000 store target by 2008. That's two new stores every week. This has been achieved ahead of time with the 1000th store opened in 2007.

"The scale of this deployment has been a real challenge in terms of the economics of the investment. Pursuing an 'open source, open standards' strategy has allowed us to meet that challenge."

Mark Taylor, CEO, Sirius Corporation said: "We were asked to design and build a new authentication system that resembled a Windows-style domain with the management benefits that yields but using our existing LDAP data. OpenLDAP using the GoSA management interface was the answer.

"Enterprise Open Source software is no different from any other technology. With professional guidance, any global business can repeat what Specsavers has done saving themselves potentially millions of Euro a year in licensing fees."

About Specsavers Optical Group

For the past six years Specsavers has been voted Britain’s most trusted opticians by Reader's Digest - one in three people who wear glasses buys them from Specsavers.

The company is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world with more than 1,000 stores across the UK and Europe and is about to open more than 100 stores in Australia. Annual turnover for 2007 exceeded a record £1billion.

About Sirius Corporation

Sirius Corporation is a leading European IT services group specialising in enterprise-ready Open Source software including databases, email systems, file & print, directory services, and cross-platform authentication. Clients include start-ups, blue-chip multi-nationals and public sector organisations.