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Linking business continuity and security

Customer storiesby One magazine21/06/2012

Once the disaster recovery plan was complete and the redundant server room had been installed, it was time for ATS Group Merelbeke to address the security aspect. Together with Belgacom they opted for a high-end solution.

The impact of networks and the Internet on a vast array of business processes continues to grow. To ATS Groep, the introduction of a high-end security solution was the finishing touch to a disaster recovery plan that they implemented jointly with Belgacom.

ATS Groep (Advices for Technical Systems) was founded in 1984 by the current CEO René Schepens. The company grew into a formidable SME generating an annual turnover of 110 million euros and with 600 employees on the payroll. ATS is currently made up of 13 companies. The group offers an extremely wide range of products and services: metal structures, robotics, electrotechnical installations, industrial refrigeration systems, process automation, hydraulics, pneumatics, electrothermics, etc.


Where the IT-heart beats

“Here in Merelbeke is where the company’s IT-heart beats,” explains ICT Manager Korstiaan Schipper. “The entire ERP system and the network access is managed here centrally for all of the subsidiaries. In the early years, this was not a big job at all. Back then we had just a few PCs where employees could surf the Internet during break time. But, over the years, we have seen the way we are becoming increasingly dependent on the network. Not only for e-mail, VPN access or EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) but also for S4E. For our large industrial clients, we use sensors to monitor energy consumption, temperature, moisture level … this data is all transmitted over the Net. Also, the catalogs and price lists of many of our suppliers are on the Net. And quite a lot of our service technicians carry around iPads on which the diagrams of installations and/or machines are displayed. The Internet crops up in the wildest imaginable places. Often, the Internet applications provide huge time savings but, at the same time, this brings a major responsibility. What if the server room burns down? It would be a catastrophe that would seriously jeopardize the continuity of the company. Not only in Merelbeke but across all our locations.”


Fast and reliable

In order to avoid a disaster scenario of this type, a couple of years ago ATS decided to create a disaster recovery plan and to mirror all devices in two separate buildings, even down to the glass fiber cables. What’s more, all software and all applications – including IP telephony – are now run virtually via VMware. “Once that had been set up, we took the opportunity to also renew the security aspect of the network, and to back it up,” explains Korstiaan Schipper. “Since we had very good experiences with our contact at Belgacom, it didn’t take long to decide to work with them again. The fact that we are so highly dependent on ICT and the Internet played a role in our choice of partner,” reflects the ICT Manager. “I’m able to shift some of the pressure that I experience onto Belgacom. It has become a cascade: the company expects fast and reliable results from me, so I expect fast and reliable results from Belgacom. And so far, they have yet to disappoint me.”


Delivering on promises

This is how a new (double) firewall and SSL-secured VPN from Juniper came to be installed. The authentication server is from Vasco. “The people from Belgacom actually bought in one of their Juniper specialists and you could tell at once that this guy knew his stuff,” Schipper recalled. “You get clear answers and they deliver on all their promises down to the smallest detail. That creates trust. The installation also went very smoothly; the end-users scarcely noticed a thing: and that’s just as it should be. To us, the security solutions were, above all, a form of insurance for the future. It’s not so much that they are saving us time, but they provide a guarantee for our business continuity,” ended Schipper.


Business benefits
  • Fully redundant server rooms
  • Network security thanks to mirrored high-end firewall and VPN
  • Own authentication server with token system
  • Automated configuration
  • Company profile

Thanks to internal growth, consolidation and strategic takeovers, ATS Groep has become a leading provider for technological needs. The group offers a total package of services for industrial clients and the tertiary and public sectors. ATS is made up of 13 companies and has a workforce of over 600 employees.


More info?

For more information on Secure Connectivity & Mobility, visit the Belgacom website or contact your Account Manager.



One magazine is the Proximus B2B magazine for CIOs and IT professionals in large and medium-sized organisations.

One magazine is the Proximus B2B magazine for CIOs and IT professionals in large and medium-sized organisations.

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