Case Study: 16 Year Ag IT Relationship Built on Trust

by | Jan 17, 2023 | Case Studies

This California-based farmer-owned grower/packer/shipper of premium-quality fresh vegetables has a long history in the business. Like everyone in Ag, they want a relationship built on trust. Especially with their IT partner.

For more than 16 years, the company engaged with ZAG to provide management of all aspects of server infrastructure in their data center, investing and maintaining on-premise servers. Throughout the time the two companies worked together, ZAG worked to source and support technology to meet their needs.

Over the last several years, however, the organization saw significant changes as the market shifted. The company began reorganizing some of its facilities and improvements to operations processes became a necessity. Technology was a key part of the transition.

To achieve this, they worked with ZAG’s entire team – from Solution Architects to Client Strategists – to develop a long-term strategy that leveraged IT to deliver predictable business growth.

“I’m confident that if ZAG presents a project to us, their engineers can deliver. I am continuously pleased with the level of expertise and knowledge of the engineers through various deployments.”
— IT Director, Grower-Shipper-Packer

“We spent a lot of time and effort maintaining servers,” the company’s IT Director said. “So, when the company decided it was time to overhaul the ERP system, we knew it was the right time to move to the cloud so we didn’t have to deal with the headaches of managing and maintaining hardware.”

Shifting to Microsoft Azure

The move to the cloud with Microsoft Azure was just one of the large-scale projects that ZAG and their client worked together to execute, necessitated by the need for the company to grow and scale.

“ZAG partnered with us to visualize the transformation from on-prem to cloud-based infrastructure,” the IT Director said. Together, the companies collaborated to make sure the environment was correctly configured and that its ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics AX, worked within the environment.

The move to the cloud with Microsoft Azure was just one of the large-scale projects that ZAG and the company worked together to execute, necessitated by the need for the company to grow and scale.

Ultimately, the move was an important part of the flexibility the company needed for its change in its business model.

“After the move to Azure, everything was in the cloud when we needed to upgrade and increase our storage and it was much easier to do than procuring servers,” the IT Director said. On a regular basis, it’s now easier for the company to increase storage needs or decrease them based on business needs.

“If we need to upgrade CPUs or performance, it’s now just a click within the Azure environment,” they said. “This flexibility means that the IT group is better able to focus on the business.”

Implementation of the Microsoft Azure infrastructure includes the following benefits:

  • Stable framework for reliable and secure remote working across the organization, allowing remote users to access files and the system as needed.
  • Better user experience for employees and the IT team managing the day-to-day requests.
  • Enhanced security and backups through the Microsoft Azure ecosystem so that the organization is protected in the event of an outage.
  • Ability to scale confidently and manage workload increases instantaneously.

Forecasting and Reporting Improvements

As the company transitioned its ERP to the cloud, the focus became ensuring they had the information they needed to gain financial visibility into the company.

“With the ease of use established by shifting to the cloud, IT was able to help finance, providing valuable financial reporting and business analysis to ensure the company was able to make better business decisions,” the IT Director said. “This is something we couldn’t have done if we were focusing on hardware and keeping the hardware in our on-prem environment up and running.”

The company was now able to transition from the ongoing upkeep of its systems to being able to look forward, manage projects, and help the finance group better produce reports needed for stakeholders and executive management.

“With the support of IT and finance, we felt confident in the numbers coming out of our ERP, signaling that we are a profitable company,” they said. Once again evidence that a relationship built on trust delivers outcomes far beyond the IT department.

Streamlined Network Management

ZAG was selected to help the company with another project: streamlining networking infrastructure with Cisco Meraki.

“Before Meraki, we were a hodge podge of networking technology,” the IT Director said. “When we looked at migrating to Azure, we looked at Cisco, too, and it made sense to centralize with a solution that was not a lot of maintenance. We didn’t want something that required a lot of hand-holding.”

ZAG recommended Meraki, which could be managed in the cloud, giving the IT team better visibility across multiple sites. The team can see how all the sites are performing and how they’re connected through a centralized portal.

The robust technology was also a selling point for the company, who required specific access points to be able to withstand -5 degrees to store the company’s frozen vegetables output.

“It’s nice to have hardware that doesn’t require a special box to survive the elements,” they said. “Being able to plug a wireless access point in freezing conditions goes to show that we were able to pick the right equipment and implement it together.”

A Relationship Built on Trust

Throughout the 16 years that have partnered on large-scale projects and infrastructure changes, the IT team has valued ZAG’s expertise.

“I’m confident that if they present a project to us, their engineers can deliver,” the IT Director said. “I am continuously pleased with the level of expertise and knowledge of the engineers through various deployments.”

With the shift to Azure, ZAG’s team knew and understood the platform and was able to train the company’s IT team on how to deal with specific aspects of the configuration and ongoing management of the system. “We didn’t have to go anywhere else to get more detail and information about the platform,” they said. “ZAG provided all of it and timelines were met.”

This, in addition to upgrading the company’s network infrastructure and implementing broad-scale investments in remote access and application delivery, meant that ZAG continues to be a valued partner.

ZAG proudly works to deliver a relationship built on trust to our clients, partners, and employees.

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