At the end of 2018, Belgian industrial group Etex dismantled its physical data centre in Kapelle-op-den-Bos and migrated to the cloud. With IT service provider Xylos’ help, this migration happened flawlessly.
Etex Group consists of 95 companies with 113 factories in 42 countries. The group operates in Europe, Asia, the United States, South America, Australia and Africa. Their 25 products and 39 brands, such as Eternit and Microtherm, focus on roofing, cladding, building slabs, fire prevention and insulation.
Half of the group’s 15,000 employees need computer applications and data to do their jobs. Until recently, this data was stored in Etex Group’s data centre in Kapelle-op-den-Bos, but in 2018, the group dismantled its physical data centre in favour of an alternative. Opening a new data centre in another location wasn’t an option for Etex: “We wanted a truly future-oriented solution”, says David Smet, Workplace & Cloud Manager at Etex Group.
“After a feasibility study, we decided to migrate to the place where all data will end up eventually anyway: the cloud – Microsoft Azure, to be precise”, he continues. “We chose this option over Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud because Microsoft is very involved and offers top-notch support. We’ve already had positive experiences with Azure and have been using Microsoft Office 365 for over a year.”
“We’ve migrated about 150 Citrix servers and 50 TB of data to Azure for our 4,500 users worldwide. Azure allowed us to standardise the group’s IT infrastructure, so we can now support it worldwide through a uniform service desk.”
“Azure lets us transcend operational tasks and troubleshooting – we now actively think along with the company. This new environment is built to grow and adapt to support the group’s expansion. The IT department could add 1,000 extra users tomorrow without any issues. Our cloud migration also allows us to experiment with new technologies and invest in innovation involving artificial intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things. If we want to stay ahead of our competitors, we need to turn our ideas into projects quickly. By enabling us to do this, the cloud opens up new business opportunities.”
“Another advantage of the cloud is the clear overview of our IT costs”, says David Smet. “When the time comes to to expand, we’ll know exactly what it’ll cost us. With our physical data centre, expansions always came with hidden or hard-to-calculate costs.” For this reason, Etex Group will also replace its call centres with Skype.
“Xylos put their Azure experience to work to help us set up our cloud environment. As partners, we work together to meet our shared responsibilities. Xylos advises and helps us. One of the reasons why we chose Xylos is because they’re flexible and always available to discuss the next steps in the project. We’ve collaborated successfully in the past, so we trust them completely. They adapt to the customer’s needs. We started this ambitious project together in the first quarter of 2018. Yes, we’ve encountered some hurdles, but our four employees and their four experts overcame every challenge. We’re more than satisfied with the experts’ profiles and skills. Xylos doesn’t treat you like a number. A partnership with them doesn’t feel like a generic customer-provider relationship – they’re right by your side during the entire project.”
After a successful pilot project with 250 users in 4 companies, Xylos had won Etex Group’s trust. “The participating employees asked us when the migration would take place, while the process had already started”, David Smet recalls. “They never noticed a thing. When we change something that affects our users, there are usually some people who dislike what’s happening. Since this change is important from a technological perspective, we’re trying to let the users experience as little discomfort as possible.”
“One of the reasons why we chose Xylos is because they’re flexible and always available to discuss the next steps in the project.”