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Belgacom helped Borealis with the design and planning of a new LAN and also supervised its implementation. The new environment allows IT to respond more quickly and cost effectively to the needs of the business.
Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers for a wide range of sectors. With headquarters in Vienna (Austria) and a global workforce of 6,200, Borealis booked a turnover of 7.5 billion euros in 2012.
In Belgium, Borealis has production sites in the port of Antwerp and in Beringen. The customer service department is based in Mechelen.
In the past, Borealis had created a LAN-infrastructure using two datacenters to support the employees working at 12 of their European branches. However, the company has the healthy habit of benchmarking its infrastructure and performance against others in the sector. This exercise revealed that although the company’s LAN-environment in itself scored high marks, managing it was a complex process and moreover, the solution did not offer enough options for the future. The cost structure was fine, but the technology in use was ageing rapidly. That is why Borealis decided to invest in a new LAN at 24 locations in 20 countries. The aim was to achieve greater sustainability, streamline complexity and increase security.
“By sustainability, we mean the versatility that we need to be able to offer the company from the IT side,” explains Gert Lemmens, IT&S Process Owner at Borealis. “When the needs of the business change, we have to be able to react extremely quickly. The new infrastructure was developed with aspects in mind such as shortening the time-to-market for the rollout of future solutions.” The required flexibility should allow Borealis to smoothly integrate acquisitions into the group as well, for example. “Updating the LAN is an intensive process,” according to Ivo Karremans, Information Security Officer at Borealis. “That’s why we opted for a thorough selection plan.” The combination of Juniper and Belgacom proved to be the best proposal. “We weren’t just looking at the technological solution,” continues Karremans, “but also at the quality and experience of the integrator. Belgacom convinced us with a very impressive proof of concept.”
More efficient management
Given the project’s scale and its duration of over one year, Belgacom put together a team for the design and planning of the new LAN, in close collaboration with the IT-department at Borealis. Belgacom also oversaw the actual implementation. The solution itself consists of a dual core-network environment – including failover and the necessary redundancy -which provides the connections between the branch offices with the datacenters. Altogether, there are over 1,000 core and edge devices. “Together with Belgacom we were able to keep the downtime to an absolute minimum during the implementation,” recalls Gert Lemmens. “What’s more, we were able to communicate clearly and promptly about this. The end-users experienced virtually no disruption.” The new environment is based on the switches from the EX-series by Juniper, and not on different types as in the past. This simplifies the overall management. It takes less time to roll out new services, while reducing the operating costs for the environment. “What’s also important is that we’ve been able to improve the security in terms of network segregation with the SRX-series from Juniper,” adds Ivo Karremans. “The server environment remains neatly separated.”
More room for virtual teams
Since the new, standardized environment is less complex than before, it’s easier for Borealis to manage it all with virtual teams. “Our IT-staff are scattered throughout the different countries,” explains Gert Lemmens. “In the past, we had to have people working onsite everywhere. Now, we’re better able to use virtual teams.” Borealis has not actually calculated an ROI for the project. Ivo Karremans: “We see this more as insurance. Thanks to the project, we can rule out the major risks to business continuity.” Belgacom is playing a proactive role in the process by providing Borealis with a solution that allows the company to adapt to future needs. “We’re looking into new ways to handle storage and collaboration tools, among other things,” concludes Gert Lemmens. “The new environment opens up all of these possibilities.”
Borealis manufactures a wide range of base chemicals, including melamine, phenol, acetone, ethylene and polypropylene. The Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) has a 64% stake in the company, while OMV, the leading energy group from the European growth belt, own 36%.
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