Union Station, Kansas City, is truly a national landmark. Once the second largest train station in the United States, it was the hub that, until its closure in the early eighties, connected Kansas City to the rest of the nation. Now, after years of neglect, Union Station has been fully restored. The Union Station Assistance Corporation, a non-profit organization, was formed to bring the station back to its former glory. Today, Union Station is once again a bustling center of activity. Boasting fine restaurants, shops, and Science City, the station now draws thousands of tourists from around the world.
When Union Station's new owners found themselves entering the restaurant industry for the first time, they were treading in foreign waters. Opening a restaurant, never mind several, requires attention to a lot of detail. One detail of particular concern was purchasing a point of sale software system that was not only reliable, but was cost effective as well. Stories had circulated about Union Station's previous restaurant and its POS system that had continually crashed. The first priority for Union Station's new owners was to source out a flexible, reliable point of sale system that wouldn't go down. Jean Anderson, IT consultant for Union Station, had been referred to Essential POS of Kansas City, to help with their POS software needs. EPOS, in turn, recommended Volante Systems as the perfect technological fit for Union Station's diverse needs.
Anderson had looked at several points of sale systems before finally deciding on Volante. In addition to reliability, as a non-profit organization, cost was definitely a factor. Anderson found Volante's pricing to be "competitive, if not better", than the other systems they were looking at. Volante was also flexible, as it is developed entirely in Java. Java is cross platform compatible, so Volante will run on Linux, Windows, or Windows & Linux, for example. The ability to run on Linux can translate into real cost savings, since not only is Linux a free operating system, but operators no longer have to pay Window's liscening fees, for example.
The deciding factor, however, was Volante's ability to expand with the organization without Union Station having to incur any further expense. Harvey House, the station's signature restaurant, ended up needing double the amount of POS terminals than was originally planned. Other POS software companies insisted that this couldn't be accomplished without installing a second server. Volante, on the other hand, gets around this problem in a new way.
Not basing the system on the traditional Server/Client model, Volante uses the power of distributed computing with peer-to-peer technology. Peer to peer decentralizes the responsibilities customarily given to the server and distributes the task among the peers. All clients have the ability to publish services and instead of requesting a server to perform work, clients can request the work to be done by any of its peers. Thus a server is not even required for normal client operations, and Harvey House now has the freedom to expand at will with Volante without incurring extra expense in the process.
To Anderson, Volante's peer-to-peer capabilities and its ability to stand alone were "vital", as it eliminated the fear of possible system failure.
Volante cannot only stand alone in a crisis, but Volante leads the POS software industry with its innovative Redundancy Management System. Once data is entered into the system, its integrity is immediately protected. With other POS systems, server failure leads to an entire system crash, bringing your business to a grinding halt. However, Volante's unique implementation allows all terminals to be connected yet function independently, ensuring that your business will continue to run smoothly in the event of a terminal or server failure. Few, if any, POS systems on the market today can offer this "fault tolerant" solution. More information on Volante's peer-to-peer capabilities can be found at www.volantesystems.com.
Working under a tight deadline to get everything in place for the station's opening, EPOS and Volante were up to the task. "We got everything up and running on time for the opening." says Anderson. "We were thrilled with that."
The Station's many employees have also found Volante flexible and easy to use. Anderson notes that to the staff, performance and ease of use in a point of sale system is very important. "They just fly through those screens," says Anderson. She adds, "It's also quite simple to set up a menu", a feature which makes any restaurant manager's job a little easier. Anderson is also pleased that Volante and EPOS were very responsive to any concerns or questions that had arisen, although the concerns were few. According to Anderson, "The installation was actually quite pleasant." EPOS also offers 24 hour support, which is important to a large operation such as Union Station. EPOS can be contacted at www.essentialpos.com.
To Union Station and Jean Anderson, Volante's POS software has been "a very good story for us." The new operators of a national landmark where Kansas City connects have found a point of sale system, that, like their station, stays connected."