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  • Rozanne Hartley

Major Infrastructure Upgrade ($3.4M) for Ingham's Group Ltd (2016-2018)

Updated: May 12



THE CHALLENGE


  • Transitioning from a privately owned company to an Australian listed company.

  • Major organisational change: new owners wanted to outsource any services not directly related to delivering the core business which included all IT services.

  • End-of-life technology and data centre environment needed to be upgraded to support the company’s continuous journey to become one of the world’s most successful food companies.

  • Digitise, outsource and automate systems and plants to reduce staff requirements and increase efficiency, reliability, security and profitability.

  • Divest under-utilised assets to provide capital for future investment.


THE SOLUTION


  • Relocate Ingham’s Head Office from owned Liverpool office block to North Ryde to a much smaller leased premises to release much needed capital for expansion.

  • Client needed to preserve the capability and upgrade the mid-range infrastructure to run core production and distribution systems across two data centres for redundancy.

  • FBS managed the outsourcing agreement with IBM up to production readiness. The end result being a reduction in hardware overhead and IT staff numbers.

  • Back office applications were migrated to the virtualised cloud environment across multiple data centres. Moving to cloud infrastructure provided; increased security, reliability, redundancy and operational flexibility resulting in a highly redundant production environment from one that was unreliable previously.

  • Implemented a Telstra managed wide area network (WAN) to cater for the change in IT service delivery.

  • Implemented a more robust security framework across IT service delivery supported by fully integrated and rehearsed disaster recovery service.


THE RESULT


  • Provided an IT solution which was faster and more robust, enabling Ingham's to focus on their core businesses with less IT investment.

  • Production: Increased efficiency from 8 to 3 hour process run with less downtime.

  • Provided a comprehensive and rehearsable disaster recovery plan to protect the business from prolonged production outages. This meant a 15 minute recovery point objective and a 4 hour recovery time objective.

  • Significantly improved ITIL Service desk.

  • The technology and IT strategy implemented by FBS during 2016-2018 continues to underpin cost reduction, profit improvement and cash generation to this day.

BECOMING A LEADING POULTRY AND FEED PRODUCER


Ingham’s was founded as a family business in 1918 by Walter Ingham in Liverpool, New South Wales to provide poultry. Under Walter’s sons’ management, which began in 1953, the business expanded by entering into supply arrangements with major retailers, food service distributors, wholesalers and quick service restaurants (QSR), initially supplying chickens and then adding turkeys to their product offering. As time went on, Inghams enhanced its processing capabilities further to cater to changing consumer preferences towards value-enhanced poultry products.


Inghams made the decision to further embrace vertical integration by becoming a stockfeed producer. They supply a wide range of high-quality stockfeed to the poultry, pig, dairy and equine industries in Australia and New Zealand. Inghams became the largest integrated poultry producer across Australia and New Zealand, employing over 8,000 staff in over 100 locations. Ingham’s also has an unrivalled network of processing and distribution facilities including 345 facilities and farms across Australia and New Zealand which enables a rapid response to customer demand and efficient management of production volumes.


PREPARING FOR THE NEXT PHASE OF INGHAMS GROWTH


In March 2014 Inghams was purchased by American private equity firm, TPG Capital, which undertook a major upgrade of the ageing production and technology infrastructure.


ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE with a MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADE $3.4M


Ingham's technology was end-of-life when it was purchased by TPG Capital, so in February 2016, Inghams chose to engage Focused Business Solutions because of its considerable experience in large infrastructure projects to manage the major infrastructure upgrade. “Inghams engaged Focused Business Solutions (FBS) to manage the transition of IT support to an offshore, outsourced model and to migrate two datacentres. The lead FBS consultant's experience in dealing with major IT infrastructure projects and outsource providers was a key element to his selection for the role. The transition and migration project was managed to an aggressive timeline with a significant number of impacting events, scope change, variables and delivery challenges. The FBS consultant engaged and led the in-house technical resources effectively and engaged the outsource provider confidently and reliably. The key objective of the transition to migration without disruption to business operations was achieved and all changes were managed within an approval and delivery framework. His professionalism was instrumental to the success of this project and has contributed positively to the transformation of the Ingham’s IT team.” IT Infrastructure and Operations Mgr, INGHAMS


This project was delivered in four pieces; an IT outsource, a hardware refresh, virtualisation and a network outsource.

IT OUTSOURCING


Ingham’s wanted to outsource their IT so they could focus on their core business, reduce their hardware and licensing costs, as well the number of IT staff. They engaged the lead FBS consultant to manage the relationship between Inghams and the service provider, IBM which was located in Australia and India. Responsibilities were shifted to IBM; including transitioning all IT workloads from Production and Secondary data centres to two IBM data centres in Sydney and Melbourne, providing the day-to-day data centre infrastructure monitoring and the management function. A baseline was established for infrastructure governance with IBM’s Indian based partner Integrated Managed Infrastructure (IMI). The FBS lead consultant also guided Ingham’s staff into a new support model post-transition.


HARDWARE REFRESH


The purpose of the refresh was to upgrade ageing data centre mid-range and Intel hardware because it was old and failing. The FBS lead consultant managed IBM, Inghams and third party vendors through the process. This required the relocation of a primary and a secondary data centre into two IBM data centres in Sydney city and Baulkham Hills. The result of the upgrade was;

  • Warranty was now included in the IBM service agreement, rather than Ingham’s responsibility,

  • Increased efficiency from an 8 hour to 3 hour process run,

  • Increased security and product traceability,

  • Easier for IBM to provide support and maintenance.


IBM Softlayer


VIRTUALISATION


Inghams instructed IBM to virtualise everything. FBS’ lead consultant lead Inghams staff to architect;

  • The migration of 103 physical and virtual workloads using Double-Take Move onto clustered ESXi x3550s running VMware environments at IBM’s IaaS “SoftLayer” data centres,

  • One vCenter Server was provisioned per site for managing the VMWare vSphere environment,

  • vSphere Replication was used to replicate data from Production to disaster recovery (DR) where there will be one vSphere Replication Appliance (VRA) installed at each site,

  • Site Recovery Manager (SRM) was used to manage and automate DR processes.

This significantly reduced capital and operating costs, minimise downtime, increased IT productivity, efficiency and responsiveness. Faster provisioning of application and resources. IBM were instructed to provide day-to-day infrastructure monitoring in the new environments.


NETWORK OUTSOURCE


Inghams engaged the lead FBS consultant to manage Telstra and IBM to;

  • Administer all WAN and LAN functions. WAN links were provided via a 100Mbps end-to-end Data Centre inter-connects,

  • IBM provided switching capacity within the sites for termination of Ingham’s infrastructure,

  • Provide security was managed by IBM: At each data centre redundant firewalls were deployed enabling different security zones to be configured. All internet facing firewalls were installed with IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) and were managed and monitored 24x7 by the IBM SOC (security operations center),

  • Provide a DR failover environment for all IT environments with the design guideline of 4 hour Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective of 15 minutes.


FINALLY


Throughout the transition IT delivery capability was maintained which was essential to the business. In addition, the project provided a new strategic governance model that aligned business expectations and provided an agreed approach to cost management over the life of the relationship. Post transition activities which were managed by FBS included; decommissioning all legacy hardware at both of Ingham’s Telstra based data centres and included the negotiated sale of Ingham’s iSeries mid-range hardware.

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