BelOrta is focusing on the future. With Dell EMC VxRail, this cooperative is smoothly adapting its IT infrastructure to its rapidly changing needs, while the centralized management has resulted in time savings and a higher level of security. Moreover, its implementation partner ePact has allowed a particularly cost-efficient approach. The replaced servers got a second life with the redundant roll-out of Veeam Backup & Replication.
The Belgian fruit and vegetable cooperative BelOrta is one of the European market leaders in the field of fresh fruit and vegetables. Each year, more than 1.000 manufacturers ensure a constant supply of more than 170 fruit, vegetable and herb varieties. Together, the growers produce circa 650 million pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables on an annual basis. The offer ranges from established values such as apples, strawberries and tomatoes to innovative products, from classics to more refined specialties and from conventional to organic. As a pioneer in its product category, BelOrta is focusing on the taste and pleasure experience during the consumption of locally produced fruit and vegetables.
A heterogeneous environment
BelOrta results from various mergers, including the Mechelse Veilingen, Coöbra, Veiling Borgloon and more.Apart from its main office in Sint-Katelijne-Waver and its site in Borgloon, this company also runs sites in Zellik, Visé, Fernelmont and Kinrooi. Given this history, the IT infrastructure of BelOrta was quite heterogeneous, with different types of solutions on these various sites. When the new packaging company Sort & Pack was launched in Borgloon – and needed a new, specific IT environment to support highly specialized applications -, it was the starting signal for BelOrta to evaluate the complete IT infrastructure.
“The environment needed to be renewed,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele, Head of IT at BelOrta. “We drew up a plan to evolve towards an infrastructure based on local hardware for more performance and speed, but with a centralized management for more efficiency.” Throughout the years, BelOrta had mainly focused on growth and digitization, due to which at local level, there was sometimes less room for security and patching. “This was also a key point,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele. “In the new environment, we wanted to centralize and simplify the security management.”
“Thanks to the central management via vCenter, Dell EMC VxRail not only results in time savings, but also in a more secure environment.”
Tim Van Caeyzeele, Head of IT at BelOrta
By listing all the desired features, BelOrta almost automatically came up with Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) as the most suitable solution. In HCI, everything comes together on an x86 platform: computing power, storage, network and virtualization. “The easy scalability of HCI is extremely important to us,” explains Tim Van Caeyzeele. Investing in a classic IT environment often remains a guessing game. If a company prefers to play safe, this will result in an over-dimensioned solution, according to which the company will pay for capacity it won’t need in the first place. If rapid growth follows, the environment often turns out to be too small.
“You don’t have this dilemma with HCI. You can easily scale according to what you need here and now. This offers us a great benefit. Today, it’s impossible to estimate what we will need in terms of IT infrastructure next year, but we do know that we can cover that need when necessary, scaling up or scaling out.”
”When choosing a concrete solution, BelOrta opted for Dell EMC VxRail. “We had already virtualized on VMware, which is strongly linked to Dell Technologies,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele. “In the long term, this will give us more certainty. Besides, Dell Technologies also offered the best value for money.”
Subsequently, BelOrta relied on its implementation partner ePact, an Uptime Group company. ePact was not only able to provide the necessary experience with Dell EMC VxRail, but is also a certified VMware partner. “ePact was responsible for two implementations of Dell EMC VxRail,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele. “One in Sint-Katelijne-Waver and one in Borgloon. Both sites are managed centrally, within one Dell EMC VxRail vCenter console.”
The implementation – in full corona crisis – was performed within the record time of only a few weeks. “This happened in close collaboration between ePact and our own team. By closely following up the implementation, we can manage the environment ourselves. At the same time, ePact is a partner we can always rely on.”
Thanks to Dell EMC VxRail, BelOrta now has more computing power and storage capacity. Moreover, in the data centers, this solution allows to save lots of space. A Dell EMC VxRail is only 4 units in size and hardly requires any cables. BelOrta uses the infrastructure for its own ERP package, in addition to applications for warehouse management, transport, reporting, remote desktops, accounting, camera surveillance, the command of cooling installations, and more. Altogether, circa 30 virtualized servers are involved.
Time savings and efficiency
“The main benefit lies in the management,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele. “In the field of security, we don’t need to look one by one at all aspects of servers, storage systems and networks anymore. VMware validates the whole, which makes management much easier. It is also very practical, because we do everything within one console. Altogether, Dell EMC VxRail allows us to save lots of time and to improve our efficiency.” Are the needs within BelOrta going to change soon? In that case, it’s just a matter of scaling. “The infrastructure in itself is ready for it,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele.
ePact also gave us some advice about Veeam Backup & Replication. “This solution offers item-level recovery,” explains Tim Van Caeyzeele.
“It allows us to restore just one file if necessary, without having to restore the entire server.” BelOrta uses the old servers that were replaced by Dell EMC VxRail, at a secondary location to roll out a fully redundant set-up of its backups with Veeam. “This is what we mean by working cost-efficiently,” says Tim Van Caeyzeele with a smile. “That old hardware is still being supported and is now – as a platform for Veeam – part of the basis for the disaster recovery plan of our company.”