Alfa Accountants & Advisors

Business-critical applications to Valid private cloud

If there is one profession that makes work of data, it is accountants. However, with the data from their clients' financial records, there is much more to do than just check the accounts and produce annual reports. Alfa Accountants and Adviseurs and the dairy farming sector are pointing the way to the future: the data-driven farm as an example for other sectors. Valid provides a high-performance, high-available private cloud in which Alfa's core applications do their work undisturbed.

Alfa is a leader in the agricultural sector, in part because of its so-called Business Analysis System (BAS). This provides member dairy farmers with information with which they can optimize their business operations and benchmark with other organizations. This includes data from the farmer's financial records, from feed supplier invoices and delivery information from the dairy plant. With Internet of Things applications, this information can be enriched with data from other sources, for example, on energy consumption or manure production.

Challenge: modernize, standardize and centralize

In order to continue to innovate and cope with growing amounts of data, modernization of data management was needed. In addition, Alfa felt the need to standardize and centralize the ICT. Valid has been the trusted service partner for many years and was asked to renew the existing ICT at the various branches. "To be able to change faster, standardization of work processes and ICT was needed. Our IT strategy is now focused on the cloud and mobile working." So says René Vermeulen, Manager of ICT Support and Infrastructure at Alfa.

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Solution: migration of applications to Flexpod

Citrix terminals have been replaced by laptops with Office 365 as standard equipment. Six core business applications have been transferred to FlexPod. This technology underlies Valid's IaaS services (see box).

Result: guaranteed stability and performance

"In the old situation, we ran the core applications in-house and Valid did the technical management. We wanted to switch to a hosted private cloud, with guaranteed stability and performance, and fully managed by the provider. We put the call out to several parties. But we were most enamored with Valid's solution, partly because it was closest to what we envisioned ourselves. Moreover, we have been working with them to our complete satisfaction for ten years. So that solution was the one we chose."

The technical migration of the six financial applications to FlexPod was quick and easy. "There was to be no degradation of performance. We succeeded. After all, if nearly a thousand people cannot access their applications and data, we suffer great damage." Data management and storage were taken to the next level by introducing storage tiering. Employees have been included in the change. Working on a terminal is substantially different from working in the browser on a Windows laptop with Office 365 and requires attention. And, of course, managing systems that people take home makes different demands in terms of security.

"We were most enamored with Valid's solution, partly because it was closest to what we envisioned ourselves. Moreover, we have been working with them to our complete satisfaction for ten years. So that solution is what it became."

René Vermeulen Manager ICT support and infrastructure at Alfa Accountants & Adviseurs
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Benefits to the business

Meanwhile, Vermeulen sees the business benefits of the hybrid and flexible mix of Valid FlexPod and on-premises at Alfa. Alfa no longer has to spend time preparing RFPs (request for proposal) for new capacity. After all, the contract with Valid allows for easy scaling up and down. Alfa pays for actual usage, no longer has investments on its balance sheet, and makes the switch from Capex to Opex. "All in all, we have become much more flexible," says Vermeulen.

Future: expand and refine

The next step is remediation and far-SaaSing. After that, the big data warehouse is on the horizon. "What we realized in the agricultural sector tastes like more: further expand and refine, and roll out the concept to other sectors. With the modernization of our infrastructure, we have taken an important step."

Alfa Accountants & Advisors
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