A few years ago, food company Vandemoortele decided to move its entire have-and-hold IT to a private cloud in an external data centre. It made sense: the company’s own infrastructure was outdated and not very stable, and part of the idea behind an outsourcing deal like this is that the internal team can then pay more attention to strategic IT projects and software development. Now the company is assessing the added value of the public cloud too. With help from Xylos, it first switched over to Office 365 and SharePoint on Microsoft Azure. Now it has some 60 virtual machines in Microsoft’s public cloud. This has enabled Vandemoortele to activate more services for the same infrastructure cost.
Every year, Vandemoortele performs a simple analysis of its internal and external IT costs. The new Group IT Director, Dennis De Baar, wasn’t convinced by the full infrastructure outsourcing model: ‘Outsourcing is mainly beneficial when there’s added practical value. An important application like SAP runs best in a stable environment with a partner who also manages the middleware properly, not just the back end. But we had shared responsibility for lots of applications, so this didn't work very well.’
Because the cost increased in line with size, Vandemoortele decided to take a portion back under its own management and switch largely to Azure. ‘We asked ourselves if we could still compete locally – internally or externally – with Microsoft Azure or Amazon. Even just at storage level alone the business case was very appealing,’ says Infrastructure Manager Werner Godaert.
Vandemoortele called on Xylos’ expertise and brought their personnel in house to help with the transition. The company wanted to have people close to the business to be able to work more pragmatically and keep their finger on the pulse. ‘We had good contacts with Xylos and a no-nonsense conversation. They know how to attract the right people,’ says De Baar. ‘With their help, we brought our services back in-house step by step: first the Active Directory and security application, and then Exchange which was quickly ported to Microsoft Office 365.’
Vandemoortele wants to innovate faster with the hybrid model. Godaert: ‘A business moves forwards and you run up against new issues, with only limited manoeuvrability in such a long outsourcing contract, but you can easily scale up or down with the public cloud, and you’re in a flow of constant change.’
Vandemoortele took its first steps in Azure with SharePoint infrastructure-as-a-service. ‘Even arranging the infrastructure saves a level of governance, as well as meetings and time. It’s true that we didn’t have any experience with load balancing or high availability for applications in Azure, but Xylos advised us perfectly. And Microsoft makes fixed templates available too, so everything was ready in no time at all, and now our concept business Croustifrance B2B customers can order their baguettes and other goods very easily.’
The software for personnel management moved to the public cloud too, and Vandemoortele is already preparing the migration of its on-premise Microsoft CRM 2013 to Microsoft CRM 2016 on Azure. Active Directory Federation Services designed to simplify single-sign-on plus around 60 virtual servers are running in Azure now too. Hana Cloud integration, a type of middleware, ensures that all applications can talk to each other, and Vandemoortele is also planning to activate Expressroute for better connectivity later this year.
This means there are lots of projects in the cloud, but that wasn’t a goal in itself. ‘We do have a cloud first strategy, but together with our transformation partner Xylos, we just want to be able to use flexible IT at a manageable cost. Xylos goes about this in a very pragmatic way,’ says Dennis De Baar. ‘We have more projects lined up together. We want to roll out Skype for Business, including video conferencing, with Inia too. But we can’t do it all in just one year,’ concludes De Baar, laughing.
‘We do have a cloud first strategy, but together with our transformation partner Xylos we just want to be able to use flexible IT at a manageable cost.’