D’Arta specializes in frozen products: from fruit and vegetables to ready-made meals. The company’s headquarters are located in Ardooie, Belgium, in the province of West-Flanders, one of the most productive agricultural regions in Europe. A second production location is located in Portugal, the ideal place for the cultivation of Mediterranean crops such as broccoli, peppers, zucchini, tomato and strawberry. In the summer of 2018, d’Arta opens a new branch in the United Kingdom, mainly for processing peas. Over the years, d’Arta has become one of the leading frozen food companies in the region, with over 600 employees across the three branches. D’Arta is known for its family-business approach and long-term vision. The company invests in growth and innovation, for both production methods and product development. D’Arta supplies its products to retail, food service and industrial customers around the world.
Over the years, the IT environment has grown organically”, said Francis Doom, IT Infrastructure Manager at d’Arta. “IT always followed the needs of the business.” That approach resulted in an IT infrastructure that is stretched out over the entire site in Ardooie. The IT department’s activities focus on two domains: supporting the general office (administration, sales, marketing and finance) and supporting the production facilities. “There’s a lot of IT involved in the production process. A packaging line, for example, is based on the smooth collaboration between connected scales, detectors and cameras. There is a strong presence of IT in the warehouse as well, among other things to manage the robots, picking and storing packaged vegetables.”
Easy management prevails
In Ardooie, d’Arta’s network reaches into some twenty locations. They are connected through fiber with the company’s two on-premise data centers. In each data center, d’Arta hosts several physical servers. D’Arta is using VMware to host its virtual machines. “Throughout the entire network we have deployed Cisco Classic technology”, Doom explained. “When we started searching for a new solution for switching, we asked Interligo for advice.” Throughout the years, d’Arta built a tight relationship with Interligo. One of the projects the companies collaborated on, was the roll-out of VDI on the Cisco network. “Thanks to Interligo, we have easy access to the wide range of knowledge and experience of the Uptime Group.
“For the renewal and expansion of the wireless network, Interligo suggested to take a look at what Cisco Meraki has on offer. We wanted a solution that not only would provide the functionality we need, but that also would be easy to install and manage. At d’Arta, we run a small IT team. Efficient management is always a top priority here.”
Using Cisco Meraki, d’Arta found the right combination of functionality and user-friendliness. At first, the company built its wireless network on Cisco Meraki. But in the meantime, the entire company network is moving to Cisco Meraki, including the security appliances. “We only looked at what we really needed”, said Doom. “There was no desire for a solution with lots of bells and whistles. Cisco Meraki has everything we need and offers it in the most user-friendly way.” The new wireless network’s roll-out was planned and executed step by step. The wifi network consists of 80 access points. The installation happened to be quite a challenging exercise, logistically complex as well, among other things because coverage was needed in the freezer storage areas. But Cisco Meraki allows for a gradual approach. That’s how we managed to replace the network bit by bit, one location at a time.”
Management in the cloud
Choosing Cisco Meraki fits right into d’Arta’s future plans in Portugal and England. “Cisco Meraki switches, access points and security appliances can be managed using a cloud portal. In Portugal we are migrating the network to Cisco Meraki as well. Whenever a network device goes down, we can manage the issue through the cloud from our office in Ardooie.” Rolling out the new network didn’t need all that much consultancy either. “We will probably need some advice for the configuration of the security appliances”, Doom continued, “among other things for the actual migration and for setting up the security rules. In that case, it is of course very useful to have a direct link to a partner like Interligo, acting as the access point to all the expertise we need, from VDI and fiber balancing to end-point security.”
Following Interligo’s advice, d’Arta also implemented a new solution to secure the company’s email. “The system we used to have simply couldn’t detect all of the risky content in email messages. At d’Arta, we believe that a system for email security needs to offer 99.9% certainty – or more. So we really needed a new solution.” Through its partnership with Interligo, d’Arta found an efficient, trust-worthy and affordable solution in Cisco Cloud Email Security. “It’s a cloud application. Cisco is in charge of maintenance and updates. It’s something we don’t need to worry about – and it allows us to save some time as well.”
IT is business-critical
At d’Arta, IT is extremely business-critical, hence the company’s attention for IT security. It also explains d’Arta’s choice for Cisco Meraki and Cisco Cloud Email Security. “A production line stand-still has a direct impact on the business”, Doom concludes. “That’s why the company’s management considers IT as an indispensable part of the production process. That’s also why we keep investing in the infrastructure’s security – with Interligo as our partner.”