Paignton, South Devon-based Caterfood distributes over 4,500 different products for the catering industry, including frozen and chilled food, drinks, and cleaning materials. In 2012 it purchased its own vehicle maintenance business and operates a fleet of over 40 vehicles designed for cold food transportation. It was acquired by large food distributor Bidfood in 2016.
In 2019, Caterfood realised it had a problem: it needed to replace its old Sage accounting software. The company had been using a version of the product called Tetra, which Sage no longer supported, running on legacy hardware. The hardware ran Windows Server 2008, which Microsoft was to stop supporting in January 2020.
Caterfood had been using its unsupported legacy system for several years but the pressure was on to upgrade following its acquisition by Bidfood in 2016. This large food distributor was unhappy with the existing system because the lack of support made it more vulnerable to ransomware and other viruses. Caterfood is a 24-hour operation delivering perishable food to companies around the country. If its system ever went offline it could cost thousands in revenues and upend its customers' businesses.
The food distributor had to replace the software, but the hardware on which it ran was at least six years old, meaning that it wasn't certified to run the latest Windows software. To get the support guarantees it so badly needed, Caterfood had to replace the entire supporting infrastructure too.
Caterfood turned to Probrand to handle the infrastructure upgrade based on a robust relationship between the two companies.
In 2017, Caterfood used Probrand to install an extra virtual machine on its existing hardware environment, and then expanded into managed services with the Probrand Spirit Monitoring Managed Service, covering all its servers. It also implemented managed services for email continuity and security, along with encryption and data leak prevention, a managed firewall and VPN, and Probrand Cloud endpoint security and mobile device management for the food company's laptop users.
Probrand had also helped Caterfood with its network communications and backup services. It installed a 100Mbps leased line at the company's Streamside warehouse facility, followed up by a cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) contract.
With that track record, Caterfood was confident in Probrand's ability to reinvent its infrastructure in preparation for the Sage upgrade. The project began in November 2019 and was finished by Christmas.
Probrand replaced legacy thin client devices with PCs and upgraded the company's old HP Proliant generation 7 server with new Dell PowerEdge servers. It also replaced the existing HP P4300 SAN with a SCv3020 storage area network.
Probrand's technology team also installed a new LAN network to separate Caterfood's core, data and voice traffic, and installed new versions of Windows, SQL Server, and Exchange.
The Probrand team had already installed a version of Office 365 for Caterfoods' mobile workers in 2017, but took this opportunity to roll out the Office 365 E3 plan in a hybrid model. This enabled the food company's employees to use an on-premises version of Exchange server connected to Office 365 so that it could migrate to a full cloud version in the future.
Not only did Probrand's technical expertise create a modern environment able to support all of Caterfoods' future needs, but its lateral thinking helped save Caterfood money while increasing its endpoint functionality, explains Gary Winstone, IT and Site Excellence Manager at Caterfood.
"We had already invested in existing Microsoft Office software licenses, and it would have cost a lot to write those down as part of the upgrade to the latest productivity software," he said. "Instead, the hybrid approach allowed it to continue using the latest version of its software and migrate more users to the cloud when it made commercial sense."
Replacing thin client devices with PCs that were similarly priced also enabled Probrand's team to eliminate expensive remote desktop services (RDS) licensing costs for Caterfood while offering its clients' IT department more endpoint capabilities. "The Probrand Cloud endpoint security service gives us the peace of mind that we need to use those powerful computing clients in our architecture," Winstone adds.
By retooling Caterfoods' technology infrastructure, Probrand has enabled the company to continue operating an expanding business while satisfying the security and reliability needs of a new parent company. It has streamlined and refined the distributor's technology operations, putting more options at its disposal to accommodate whichever IT strategy it chooses to pursue.
"Thanks to Probrand, we're ready to handle our Sage upgrade with confidence," Winstone concludes. "It gives us the platform we need to modernise our software and handle all the everyday IT requirements of a growing business."