Customer Experience Manager
Sanford Ltd is fishing on a grand scale! A world class fishing company devoted entirely to the harvesting, farming, processing, storage and marketing of seafood and aquaculture products supporting sustainable practices within New Zealand. With some 1,200 employees, nationwide branches [including approx. 600 mussel farms], and with presence in some far-reaching places like Stewart Island and Bluff, this can cause a myriad of IT challenges.
Sanford signed with Solarix in October last year after various acquisitions and the subsequent amalgamation of all their systems caused a “lot of sleepless nights”, according to IT Operations Manager, Stewart Myles. Complexity, lack of reliability and flexibility offered by the incumbent service provider, meant it was time to try something new. That’s when Solarix became of interest to Sanford’s.
The complex nature of the Sanford project has been just the opportunity for Solarix to show what it excels at – bespoke WANs, 18 sites accessed across the country (some extremely far reaching), multiple access technologies, reliability, flexibility, and generally mixing things up to get the best results for the customer.
The project has been rolling out in 2 stages effectively, and at the time of writing is almost complete. In Stage I Solarix built a network mostly made up of copper access tails. In Stage II fibre to those sites are being implemented, with the initial copper tails acting as resilient backup in a High Availability failover configuration.
According to Joerg Micheel, Senior Architect at Solarix, “It is a complex WAN due to all the different technologies and all the different sites that are being accessed. There are probably half a dozen technologies being used to deliver these services; different copper, and different types of fibre. There are actually two WANs – one is for the office network and one for their BYOD.”
“One of the exciting things we’ve done with Sanford is introduce 3G/4G wireless. We did so firstly in a location near Nelson called Glenduan – an out of the way place with no copper and no fibre. It’s a new research facility. The building wasn’t even enclosed fully when we put the 3G/4G services in there just before Christmas. We put in an additional antenna to strengthen the phone signal for good reception”, explains Joerg.
“Also there is literally a barge floating in Big Glory Bay, Stewart Island (location known for its huge mussel farms) which will have a router on it, an antenna, and equipment provided by us that will work like any other office. It’s absolutely amazing!”
Stewart from Sanford adds, “We are using 3G/4G for things it wasn’t designed for. This is a stopgap until the fibre goes in, but a VoIP system has been running over it and it actually works really well. It’s going to be a good back up once the fibre is installed.”
“It’s just worked really well for us. The fact that we could have a mix-match of different technologies and we’ve been dealing with people who actually listen to what we want, has been quite refreshing really”, says Stewart.
Huge growth and change is taking place within Sanford, and as such there are a large number of projects taking place simultaneously.
“While we put the initial scope of work to Solarix, things have changed numerous times over that period. One thing with Solarix is they have really been able to cope with the changes we’ve thrown at them last minute, being able to accommodate that without having to go through a whole process. That’s the good thing in dealing with an agile company. They’re much more flexible. As I mentioned, listening to what we’re saying rather than selling us a box.”