TCS: Safely on the road for years together with a&f systems
The Touring Club Suisse (TCS) has been a loyal customer of a&f since 1990. Numerous projects have been realised together. Andreas Waber looks back.
The Touring Club Suisse (TCS) is a non-profit association with approximately 1.5 million members. This makes it the largest Swiss organisation in the fields of assistance to persons and assistance to vehicles. The cooperation between the TCS and a&f systems dates back to 1990, when a&f systems was still A&F Computersysteme AG. Numerous projects have been realised during these decades. One of them is the “Touring” completely in the cloud (“Touring” entirely in the cloud). In the Apple business, isolated solutions were changed over to a central management using Munki. The TCS also has access to Adobe licenses and support via a&f’s Software & Licensing Department. The TCS has also been relying on the products of WoodWing since 2014. Andreas Waber, Head of Production of “Touring” summarises this long-standing cooperation.
a&f: Mr. Waber, why did you choose a&f systems as a partner back then and why have you continued this partnership?
Andreas Waber (AW): It happened by chance because in 1990 «Touring» had its print material printed by the Zollikofer print shop in St. Gallen. And Zollikofer cooperated with a&f back then. Why change something that you are satisfied with?
«We always receive a prompt response to any issue we report and that is very important to us. The TCS editorial office is relatively small and we appreciate it that even as a small customer, we receive fast and professional service.»Andreas Waber, Head of Production Touring
a&f: Together, we have been privileged to realise great projects in the past decades. How did you experience this cooperation?
AW: Back then, a&f was still a relatively small company so the paths were very short. When we had an issue, it could happen on occasions that the manager would help us personally. But even now we always receive a prompt response to any issue we report and that is very important to us. The TCS editorial office is relatively easy to oversee and we appreciate it that even as a small customer, we receive fast and professional service. One great advantage of this company: you can communicate with the same persons at a&f for many years. The contacts do not change. And even when on the odd occasion we talked to a different person, we were always satisfied.
«The cooperation with the TCS is transparent and trusting at all times. Our work is appreciated and this shines through. Such partnerships are fun!»Philippe Lindegger, CEO a&f systems ag
a&f: How did the early projects proceed? What did you jointly implement?
AW: During the early projects, we always had to improvise somewhat because most of the time there was a lack of experience. They nevertheless all went smoothly and we managed to complete them all on time. We solved most issues quickly. This cooperation started back in 1990. In the early years, practically everything “only” revolved around Macs and the associated software. In 2004, a&f installed a network at the “Touring” editorial office as well as a Windows server for data storage and the editorial system based on QPS (Quark Publishing System). In 2021, TCS took over the network maintenance and also installed its own file servers. In 2012, a Mac mini was installed with a Pegasus RAID as file server with Pegasus-Raid. Together with a&f, we expanded and updated the Apple file server with a redundant Mac mini and the second Max mini and also increased the storage at the end of 2013. The existing Max mini is still being used today as a backup server. In 2014 and 2015, we jointly replaced the Mac hardware and changed over to the WoodWing editorial system. This system is being operated in a&f’s own data centre. In 2015, we changed our “Touring” over from a tabloid to a magazine. Since 2018, WoodWing is being operated by Swissprinters, respective Ringier, in cooperation with a&f. Recently, in 2020, WoodWing was successfully updated to version 2020.
«WoodWing Studio is an ideal editorial system for content first strategies. A story is saved and automatically structured in the editor of the Content Station. These structured contents are channel-independent and therefore easily adjustable for any type of format.»Stefan Schärer, Head of Marketing and Co-Owner a&f systems ag
a&f: What obstacles or challenges did arise in the past? How did you overcome them?
AW: The main obstacles occurred internally at the TCS. For example, when the TCS once again had forgotten that there are more than just Windows systems. This still happens to this day, by the way. But even there, a&f always had constructive advice and told us clearly what we had to solve and how with the internal IT. This was possible, amongst other things, thanks to the extensive practical know-how in supporting mixed system environments.
a&f: What are your hopes for the future?
AW: I hope that this cooperation is still going to continue for a long time to come. That would be very useful for us. The Touring editorial office is leaving its location at the Bern train station after 85 (!) years, by the way, and will be moving to a modern, new building in Ostermundigen in the autumn.
a&f: Looking back, how would you summarise the cooperation and realised projects?
AW: I could not think of anything negative. That says it all, really.
«The TCS is a very pleasant customer. I personally have much regard for Mr. Waber. He is friendly and intelligible. One always finds a solution when working with him.»Philippe Lindegger, CEO a&f systems ag
a&f: What would you do differently if you could turn back time?
AW: I would have equipped the editorial office with Apple workstations as well, and not just the layout office. But unfortunately, that was not our decision to make.
a&f: Is there anything that you remember, in particular?
AW: I can still see the first training room. That was in 1990!
Andreas Waber, Head of Production Touring
We would like to sincerely thank Andreas Waber for his time and especially for the great cooperation in the past decades. We look forward to the next 30 years and further joint projects.