A Fibrous Solution
Written August 2022
Fiberline Composites has roots dating back to 1979 which offers them great insight into how to think with an international mindset and how to keep your focus on development. This became a crucial skillset when IT Manager, Chang Kragelund Thomsen, needed to radically change the company’s IT operations. He and the company are in the middle of a groundbreaking development of their company’s history. The development has commenced and will be finalized in the year 2024. Two new factories, in India and Mexico respectively, are to create new opportunities for the company’s global deliveries and create a closer proximity to the large markets in Asia and South America. “We have always kept our infrastructure centralized, but that no longer makes sense,” Chang says. “In keeping the company’s needs at the forefront, it was time to change the IT operations. Business has to outweigh all else and we must ensure the best possible performance; as such, Azure is the right choice,” he says.
The choice of IT involves several parameters. The local support was a key factor to Chang and his IT team. “Our company is growing globally and when you add two new factories to that equation, it can only lead to more growth. As such, we started by considering how we can offer local support in the best possible way without actually needing to have local support employees. It was a clear strategy to not enter global hosting. We wanted to maintain central control, but with the ability to have a global reach, both quickly and securely.”
In the Cloud with Azure and edgemo
In creating Chang and Fiberline Composite’s Azure project, many parts needed to be decided upon and aligned. “We sat down with Eigil Ørnfelt from edgemo and started the process of how to approach the matter from an architectural standpoint. After that, we quickly had an Azure Landing Zone which allowed us to start the work of building servers and automating the creation of servers going forward,” says Chang and continues to say: “We began in November 2021 and we anticipate being operational in India in the fall of 2022. Once we have created the entire infrastructure in India, Azure allows us to copy all of it to our factory in Mexico. This is so unique and will save us an incredible amount of time.”
The Best, not the Least Expensive
Chang and his IT colleagues were well positioned to start the process. The notion that development is the driving force, including IT, permeates to the core of the organization all through upper management. “Our Board of Directors are supportive and trust its IT department. It is clear that the technical side is our gig, but they are interested in having a solution which will support the business,” Chang says when speaking about how the Azure project is anchored into the organization. In Denmark, there are 180 of us and we anticipate adding 50 in India and 50 in Mexico. However, despite the fact that crew and factories cost a lot of money, we have not focused on saving money! We have assessed the solution based on size and capacity, and Azure was the right match. It was the right way to handle it. It could not exceed our budget, but those were our only restrictions. That is very untraditional. I had an absolute GO from my organization,” Chang states emphatically.
A Challenging Pivotal Point – A Physical Test
No IT project without challenges. Yet, challenges are meant to be overcome, even the most complex of them all. In a global collaboration, many factors have to align. Chang and Fiberline Composites were met with a certain level of skepticism from the company’s advisors in knowing that critical information would move from local, well-known servers to a cloud solution with local access on a global scale. “Our tax system was the pivotal point. As such, we ran a POC with Eigil and our tax advisors,” he explains and elaborates: We took our server in Fredericia and moved it to Azure in India while our PLC’s still remained. It worked, so the solution was actually subject to a physical test before we got started. If it had not worked, I would have been forced to have a server on-site in India and the whole idea of Azure would have fallen apart.”
Complex made Simple
Moving a complete infrastructure from A to B is not something you “just do”. Then, when you want to move it from physical, local servers to a cloud solution, there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Unless of course, you do things right. Rather than emphasizing the technical aspects of the solution, Chang talks about the process since that is the true prerequisite for breaking ground and going to the cloud. “The process has been splendid! I quickly had a good impression of Eigil’s skills and they were a perfect fit for the task, so edgemo did well by matching him with us. And the chemistry was good too,” Chang says about the collaboration. “Eigil is really good at running things. He always kept his appointments, but was flexible if needed. I do not need to comment on his professional skills; he and edgemo are extremely good at what they do! Eigil even took on the conversation with our hosting suppliers and negotiated agreements for us.”
As if the Azure project was not enough, we actually had more balls in the cloud at the same time in the beginning of the project: “In October of 2021, meaning right before this project, edgemo created our InTune solution which in itself was complex enough, and even though things were running alongside one another, the process was simple and manageable. A true pleasure,” Chang Kragelund Thomsen, Head of IT, Fiberline Composites, concludes.
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