From field to plate: CSI boosts data management for ABP Food Group

Contract includes IBM iSeries, Wintel Remote Managed Services and 24/7 service desk

Quality, efficiency and innovation are essential to leading food supplier, ABP Food Group, which provides beef to thousands of customers across the world. Supplying via a network of over 35,000 farmers, the firm has built its success on entrepreneurship, technological investment and a deep knowledge of the sectors in which it operates.

It is therefore no surprise that ABP has very specific IT needs: Data management is key in allowing ABP to remain compliant with legislation outlining the retention of information.  In addition, because the firm ensures its meat’s traceability and quality using information, its data back-up strategy must be fit for purpose and robust. “We have systems which trace cattle from field to plate – this is critical for our customers and to being compliant with legislation,” Robin Irvine, ABP Group CIO, says.

At the same time, the company needs to make sure it is able to meet its many clients’ requirements. The company takes its suppliers seriously and is renowned for paying on the day of delivery at strategically located local abattoirs that minimise animal transport distances.

Within ABP Foods, ABP Beef’s core business is supported by its renewable, pet food and protein divisions. It is one of the largest beef processing companies in Europe and operates out of 13 countries and multiple manufacturing locations.

ABP therefore needed a technology solution that was going to match its complex and varying requirements while ensuring the security of the large amounts of data it processes. “It’s important that we do things well, efficiently and properly , this is why we needed to make sure that we had the right IT partner,” says Irvine. “We were looking for people with the same levels of passion and who are as flexible as us.”

With this in mind, ABP put out a tender looking for a managed services provider to relocate 46 physical servers across four racks from its incumbent data centre. Competing against eight other potential suppliers, CSI won the opportunity to migrate the whole server estate and provide a 24/7/365 managed services wrap.

According to Irvine, CSI was chosen because of its unique position in the marketplace. “CSI has a high level of deep and historic internal skill and knowledge which allows it to manage IBM Power infrastructure and its services portfolio is commercially attractive. As part of the tender process, I need to assess a company, for example performing credit checks and due diligence on every aspect of the proposed service, I found CSI to be very open and transparent throughout this process.”

“I met the CEO on several occasions and the company structure was described well and as a result, we see CSI as more than just a typical IT supplier, they are a virtual extension to our own IT services and a business partner.”

Robin Irvine, Group CIO, ABP Beef

The critical 2011 project went as planned, without a hiccup and remained on-budget. It built further on the existing ABP and CSI’s relationship dating back to 2010 which saw CSI provide critical high availability services for IBM Power8 servers.

After the 2011 contract was signed, the partnership continued to develop further with CSI starting to manage some services which were previously handled internally at ABP Foods. The relationship now includes device monitoring, hosting, and 24/7 service desk among other capabilities. CSI also offers the unique ability to provide software asset management and ensures ABP’s IBM software estate meets compliance requirements.

“We are a 24/7 business and we need a service to match that,” Irvine says. “CSI can provide this capability and the company has a proven track record of being able to support us in demanding environments.”

CSI’s unique contract with IBM globally allows it to provide high availability services. “The key thing is: there isn’t another supplier who has the capability to do that,” Irvine says.

Further tender opportunities have followed and have seen CSI take on a contract in ABP’s pet food division for remote managed services for Wintel in 2014. Meanwhile, in 2015, ABP’s Renewables division, Olleco, started to migrate hardware from a factory based data room to CSI’s purpose-built data centre.

Increasing cooperation with CSI has allowed ABP to consolidate its suppliers, increasing efficiency within the food group as a result. According to Irvine, “The partnership with CSI is easy to manage from a commercial and contractual point of view, especially after further consolidation at group level”.

“We can report holistically: I can look at the entire group’s data covering server management, device management and service desk management. Rather than having to manually pull reports together, I can now view the data much more easily,” Irvine explains.

There have also been significant efficiency savings since CSI took over managed services for Wintel and Power8, of around 50%, says Irvine.

Building on this success, CSI and ABP’s partnership is set to develop further. Positive discussions between the pair continue.

The solution:

  • iSeries and Wintel hosting for five divisions of the ABP Food Group: ABP Food Group, ABP UK, ABP Ireland, C&D Foods and Olleco
  • iSeries and Wintel Remote Managed Services
  • High Availability Management and Role Swap support
  • Email remote managed service
  • Remote and on-site back up management
  • 24/7, 365 days a year Service Desk
  • Data Centre
  • Software Asset Management