Group Van Roey has impressive strategic investments behind it. The new building on the industrial estate at Bridge 8 in Rijkevorsel tops the list, both in terms of construction and ICT. The group goes for top quality and embraces the latest solutions and technologies from the VanRoey ecosystem. We spoke to Martin Björklund, ICT Manager of Group Van Roey.
Martin Björklund: "Group Van Roey has been putting part of its ICT in the hands of VanRoey since 2007. At the time, we were facing the transition from our former ERP solution to Dynamics NAV as well as the switch from a Mac to a full Windows environment. For the latter, VanRoey's expertise emerged as the winner from the market survey and our first major project together was a fact. The support offered for the migration to Windows Server and clients proved to be a hit."
"When the plans for our new office building in Rijkevorsel were on the table, we decided to revamp the overall ICT infrastructure as well, and here too we ended up with VanRoey after a thorough market research."
Martin: "Not that we didn't address different parties. We compared many aspects such as cooperation, expertise and the technology on offer. Everything had to add up to finally find the ideal partner who could set up such a big project. In the end, we ended up with VanRoey again (laughs)."
Beautiful and with ruthless strong wifi
Stefaan Scheyltjens, Sales Manager at VanRoey: "Indeed, what followed was an impressive project, both in terms of construction and ICT infrastructure. A good start is half the work, so thorough analyses were carried out during the preparation. For example, for the wifi: the new building consists largely of concrete core activation and is near-zero energy (BEN). Believe me, it is absolutely no laughing matter to obtain a successful wireless signal everywhere."
Martin: "Even our blinds have 'metal mesh', the whole building is one gigantic Faraday cage."
Stefaan: "In the construction phase, we called in our Networking & WiFi expert to take measurements. This enabled him to accurately predict where and how many access points we needed to install for optimal coverage. After installing and configuring the wireless network, he carried out a post-implementation analysis to see if the signal -as predicted- was OK down to the smallest corners." Martin: "I also think the success of our Wi-Fi is due to Ruckus Wireless' chosen technology with support for BeamFlex technology, among others. This enables targeted signals and wireless reflection. This proved to be a really good move. We also installed slightly more access points than initially deemed necessary to accommodate future growth and unforeseen crowds."
(Collaborating) wherever you are
Martin: "A perfectly functioning wifi was crucial because we also work with flexible workplaces in our new offices. The same quality of work must be possible everywhere," Stijn: "For (internal) telephony, for example, we switched over to Microsoft Skype for Companies.
By using headsets instead of landline phone sets, people can communicate efficiently, no matter where they work. Skype for Business today works best via laptops, as the WiFi chip is much more powerful than that of smartphones, and through Group Policies, we configure laptops so that they are given priority on the network.
Martin: "Almost all desktops have been replaced by HP Probooks with built-in SSDs. A Full HD or dual Full HD monitor is available at the workplace. Our people and our workplaces are perfectly equipped for the new way of working."
Storage to lick your fingers at: HPE 3PAR
Martin: "Our market research led us to the sheer performance and reliability of HPE 3PAR for our storage renewal. We are blazingly enthusiastic about the HPE 3PAR 7200c - with more cache, converged storage and up to 100TB of extra capacity - and the HPE Gen9 DL-380 servers we purchased are more powerful and economical than Gen8. Nice touch!"
"Especially impressive are the corporate guarantees given by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The hardware is permanently monitored by people from 3PAR itself. They closely monitor the status of our infrastructure and immediately communicate irregularities. The same experts also do the updates for us. HPE does set the condition that we go through a specific procedure first. We always call in VanRoey for this.
A comprehensive backup
Martin: "Disaster Recovery was high on our priority list, for which we switched to VEEAM for backup & replication, which at that moment came with tape support. Now our data replication is completely digital and for long-term storage we still count on tapes. Last but not least, a direct line via Proximus was laid between vanhout.pro in Turnhout and Van Roey in Rijkevorsel, so we can sleep peacefully again!"
Stefaan: "In terms of switching, you were even pioneers!"
Martin: "Indeed, the 4 core switches HPE FlexFabric 5700 Switch Series combined with the 10 end switches (HPE 2900 series) form the neural network of the organisation. When your colleague did the first tests, it turned out that VanRoey.pro was the first user, so pioneer in Belgium! We chose 10 Power Over Ethernet (POE) LAN Switches because we wanted to bet on VOIP. So providing enough wattage is the message as power consumption depends on the amount of devices connected and the wattage used. Indeed, some VoIP phones with colour screens consume quite a lot of power. In the end, landlines are used very little since everyone is now calling via Skype for Business, i.e. via laptop, both wired and wifi."
Martin: "Security is of course also extremely important for our new branch, but before that we could count on a Fortinet 110C firewall. But in the new environment even more bandwidth was needed, so we opted for a Fortinet redundant cluster with 2 firewalls of the FortiGate-200D type, which connects and protects both our new branch and our subsidiary Steel Concrete. We are extremely satisfied with the strength and robust security of the Fortinet solutions, and even though you wouldn't expect it to be such a high-end solution, managing it also turns out to be very easy.
"As far as I'm concerned, we also owe the fact that management is so simple to our collaboration with VanRoey. The design of security, backup, infrastructure and networking, among others, was always done together with your experts. A very important asset in my opinion. Your engineers always let me follow the installation and configuration step by step in a mixed team so that we can now implement basic and advanced changes ourselves. That keeps us lean and mean.
Martin: "In the past, we relied on Kaspersky for End Point Security, but when renewing the licenses, management was often difficult and cumbersome, so we were looking for a cloud-based solution for the new environment."
Licenses easily managed
Martin: "We have been working with Enterprise Agreements for desktop, server and office licenses since Windows Vista, and today we are migrating to the Cloud. It all started with Exchange Online, but in the meantime we have removed Office from the Enterprise Agreement and all our colleagues have Office 365 via the Office 365 E3 plan. Our number of Windows Server licenses has also increased exponentially, from 16 to 60 since 2010, and these contracts are now renewed every three years with an annual count.
"It saves us a lot of time that we can handle these licence-related matters directly with you. For us, this means that both invoicing and communication are greatly simplified."
Stefaan: "Over the years, our licensing team has indeed been organised very efficiently. As a Cloud Service Provider, we take ownership of these licences ourselves. So it also becomes our responsibility. On the one hand, licences should never expire and, on the other hand, we always want to give you plenty of time to decide whether or not to renew licences."
On a sounding collaboration?
Martin: "Indeed, everything went very smoothly." Stijn: "Yes, I can only agree. The expertise of your staff really paid off. When I look back at the insights and interventions of your experts... Those guys really know what they are doing and that always results in the right decisions and flawless installations."
Stefaan: "We bet hard on 'winning teams' from Subject Matter Experts. This guarantees a high chance of success because we realise that we are working with the core of your infrastructure, literally the heart of your organisation.
Martin: "For me, good communication is the key word of our cooperation. You always knew how to ask the right questions at the right times."
Groep Van Roey creates pleasant, liveable and sustainable environments. Working together with all stakeholders is our trademark. We develop total solutions that make a difference in people's lives. Our group consists of 9 companies: Van Roey, Staalbeton, Van Roey Vastgoed, vanhout.pro, Sportoase, Algemene Bouw Maes, Sibes, Nys-Driesen and Architon.