Aruba AirWave and ClearPass create global wireless consistency for logistic process automation supplier
Vanderlande is the global market leader for value-added logistic process automation at airports and in the parcel market. The company is also a leading supplier of process automation solutions for warehouses. Its baggage handling systems move 3.2 billion pieces of luggage around the world per year. Its systems are active in 600 airports including 14 of the world’s top 20. More than 20 million parcels are sorted by Vanderlande systems every day, which have been installed for the world’s leading parcel companies. In addition, 12 of Europe’s top 20 e-commerce businesses and many distribution firms have confidence in Vanderlande’s solutions.
The business is growing rapidly. In 2016, it welcomed 700 new staff, taking its global total to more than 4,500 employees. The same number again is expected in 2017. “Collaboration, internationalisation and teamwork are key challenges,” says CIO Rene van Sandijk. “It’s very important we share common tools and processes.”
Upgraded network, central visibility
Van Sandijk says the business has made great strides over the past five years to standardise global ICT. One aspect of this has been the corporate network, both wired and wireless.
“We had a situation where we lacked central visibility of the network, no consistency to the wireless experience, and the threat of a major outage in our Netherlands head office impacting all offices,” says Danny van der Aa, network administrator, Vanderlande. “We needed a plan to replace and improve the entire network.”
He says the easiest option would have been to continue with the incumbent vendor: “But we thought we might as well look at another option, and we were already users of HPE servers.”
That led to conversations with HPE Networking, followed by a network design, followed by a trip to the HPE Networking Solution Centre in Grenoble to test the designs. “I was impressed by the feature-rich qualities of the HPE switches,” says van der Aa, “and the roadmap and authentication management of the Aruba wireless solution.”
A template for future office openings
Vanderlande’s 35 branch offices, and its new 14-storey head office in Veghel, Netherlands, are now standardised on HPE wired and Aruba wireless solutions. The new head office, including the state-of-the-art building management systems, will act as a template for all future office openings.
“At the moment we’re using three management systems,” says van der Aa. “HPE Intelligent Management Center (IMC) for managing our wired infrastructure; AirWave to manage our wireless infrastructure; and we use ClearPass to manage our network authentication.”
This has transformed network management, he says: “If you’re implementing a new feature, for example, it’s very easy to see what’s working, and what’s not. Where it used to take three hours to solve a problem, with Aruba it takes five minutes. We have more detailed network data.”
Global consistency and simplified network management
Everything which connects to the Vanderlande network must pass the ClearPass system, explains van Sandijk: “At present we’re using ClearPass for our wired and wireless network authentication and to make the separation for the corporate devices, private devices and the BYOD devices. We’re also making a second application for our project environment and need to add their devices to the system.”
The entire, global network is now managed by just three network administrators, based at Veghel. Creating a new network for a new office, or project site (Vanderlande currently has 260 projects underway in 105 countries), can be deployed and secured in minutes thanks to Aruba virtual controllers and remote access points.
“With AirWave, it's very easy to install a new office with wireless,” says van Sandijk. “We only have to deploy a new virtual controller cluster and it's very easy to deploy a new office based on the standards we’ve set. We have scripts now in place where we can easily install a new switch, including the firmware upgrade, in 15 minutes.”
A solid platform for application innovation
Being standardised on Aruba, when you’re travelling and going from one office to another, the moment you enter the office you’re on the network. It really helps increase our productivity.
Rene van Sandijk, CIO, Vanderlande
The network upgrade has delivered the required consistency and visibility, says van Sandijk: “Now, being standardised on Aruba worldwide, when you’re travelling and going from one office to another, the moment you enter the office you’re on the network. It sounds simple, but it really helps increase our productivity.”
He says the improved network finally provides the solid platform on which to add new applications: “Everything which connects to our network must pass the ClearPass Policy Manager. We’re connecting PCs, climate systems, factory systems, sunscreen, lighting and even coffee machines to our network. We use Aruba ClearPass to identify and to connect “things” to our network, and place them in the correct VLAN.”
The next challenge, he continues, is to make sense of the data this generates. “The network is fundamental to us working together, whether you’re based at the head office or working off-site. Like other companies we’re looking at big data. We’re also looking at using the network to work smarter.”
Getting closer to the customer
This matters because Vanderlande solutions are becoming increasingly connected. The business has a turnover of €1 billion in 2016 (it has an order book of €1.5bn), the future will see greater integration between Vanderlande products and customers.
“Our products already include in effect a small data centre, holding performance data on that particular machine or system,” says van Sandijk. “Now, many customers will not want to share – or risk sharing, that data, but for others there is an opportunity for our engineers to analyse that data in real-time.”
Those engineers could be anywhere in the world, working off any device. The key will be to maintain access to the network and in a secure way.
“For example, Aruba remote access points could be something we use to help project teams,” says van Sandijk. “Also, we’re looking at how to apply Aruba Beacons, possibly as part of a baggage or parcel tracking solution. I see plenty of things in the Aruba network that could be interesting for us.”
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