FrieslandCampina refreshes critical data strategy
Working with IBM and Axians, FrieslandCampina resolves data security, resilience, and recovery challenges
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Global dairy giant FrieslandCampina delivers milk-based products to more than 100 countries. Thriving in a freshness-sensitive sector demands always-on systems and data. Well aware of the risks of unplanned downtime, FrieslandCampina works to ensure that its operational systems are protected against disaster 24/7. With its scattered, existing infrastructure lacking granular security control, FrieslandCampina looked for better ways to safeguard its critical data.

Enabling local independence for worldwide operations

Every manufacturing in FrieslandCampina faces the constant pressure of processing highly perishable milk-based goods. Even brief disruption to the key systems supporting production and distribution processes could cause these dairy products to spoil. To ensure maximum freshness, each location retains local control of its MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) and SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) solutions and production automation systems.

Unlike enterprise software, these manufacturing systems are highly specialized and they do not connect in a standardized manner. To ensure that each location was protected, different business units deployed a mix of backup and recovery solutions, each one offering a slightly different range of capabilities. While operationally successful, the backup architecture presented weaknesses, including complexity and a lack of granular security control.

Mohamed Asmine, Solution Architect, Hosting, at FrieslandCampina, says, “We are very focused on production continuity at multiple production locations across the globe. With so many backup and recovery solutions at each site, we had no easy way of making sure that all of our critical systems were completely backed up, or even knowing if we could recover all our data quickly.”

FrieslandCampina looked for ways to enhance data protection, backup and recovery capabilities, while enabling each production location to maintain full control over their production and manufacturing systems. To achieve this, the team targeted a new data strategy that would suit both large and small business units, offer greater security controls and reduce complexity - as well as providing greater resilience against cybersecurity threats.

Reduced complexity

by standardizing on integrated all-flash backup solutions, for greater resilience

Optimized backup

by establishing a template-based approach in each location

The IBM data solutions give us the flexibility to choose the best combination of on-premises and cloud, using hybrid technologies to give us local resilience and help us to reduce costs. Mohamed Asmine Solution Architect, Hosting FrieslandCampina
Selecting flexible, adaptable solutions

FrieslandCampina teamed up with IBM Business Partner Axians to design its new data protection and back up strategy for all of its sites worldwide. With an extensive global reach, Axians had both the operational capability and local expertise required to support such a large-scale project. The aim was to ensure that all the MES, SCADA and production automation systems were fully protected using a streamlined solution that could deliver data resilience for every site.

Axians and FrieslandCampina selected IBM FlashSystem® storage combined with IBM HyperSwap® as the basis of the new standardized storage environment for each production location. Depending on the total data volumes at each site, Axians deploys two appropriately sized FlashSystem devices at separate locations. Using HyperSwap, the two FlashSystem arrays appear as a single storage facility, while in the background data is automatically sent to both systems. Even if one unit is not available, the other continues to provide full access. Backup is provided by IBM Storage Protect, which includes data compression to reduce total storage volumes, and enables fully automated archive and retrieve operations for files, directories, and disk images.

Offering granular access controls, the new architecture protects systems and data while also ensuring excellent governance. Moreover, the on-premises design means that the backup processes can continue to run even if the internet or connection to the corporate center fails. Thanks to this innovation, production systems can keep up with the constant inflow of fresh milk that requires immediate processing.

“The IBM solution design by Axians has transformed our data protection capabilities,” explains Mohamed Asmine. “The template-based approach enables Axians and FrieslandCampina to roll out the new solution to all locations rapidly and cost-effectively, selecting the relevant IBM FlashSystem model to deliver the correct capacity and performance. IBM HyperSwap provides resilience in case we suffer a fire, flood, or any other disaster at one of the locations, and IBM Storage Protect enables us to protect the data generated by our multiple MES, SCADA and production systems.”

Working with Axians to design and deploy the IBM solutions has put us in control of our data. This means we can continue our expansion in new countries with the confidence that our production systems are fully protected. Mohamed Asmine Solution Architect, Hosting FrieslandCampina
Enabling worldwide business data protection

At the time of writing, FrieslandCampina has rolled out the solution to half of its sites. Axians provides Backup-as-a-Service, which includes deployment, configuration, and ongoing support and management, enabling the FrieslandCampina team to focus on business operations and production efficiency.

“The IBM solution is considerably more cost-effective than hyperconverged systems, particularly for the larger sites,” comments Mohamed Asmine. “We are able to take a modular approach that provides exactly the right protection at each location. We are replacing a complex landscape of different software and systems with a strategic solution that helps us to ensure that critical production data is fully protected, and easy to manage.”

As the deployment progresses, FrieslandCampina is exploring further options that the IBM solution makes possible. For example, to meet food safety and governance requirements, the company is enabling write-once read-many functionality that preserves an immutable audit record for all archived data. By implementing this capability on the standardized architecture, FrieslandCampina can enhance its compliance stance and protect against regulatory risk. Immutable stores of data will also provide added protection against cryptolocker malware.

Similarly, Axians and FrieslandCampina are reviewing cloud backup possibilities, to provide additional capacity. Mohamed Asmine says: “Some jurisdictions require data to be held on-site or within the country, while others allow cloud storage, perhaps with regional restrictions. The IBM data solutions give us the flexibility to choose the best combination of on-premises and cloud, using hybrid technologies to give us local resilience and reduce costs.”

With IBM and Axians, FrieslandCampina continues to refresh its data protection capabilities, and benefits from reduced complexity, improved performance, and enhanced business resilience.

Mohamed Asmine concludes, “Working with Axians to design and deploy the IBM solutions has put us in control of our data. This means we can continue our expansion in new countries with the confidence that our production systems are fully protected.”

Friesland Campina logo
About FrieslandCampina

FrieslandCampina (link resides outside of provides hundreds of millions of people with dairy products and milk nutrients. As a co-operative, the company and its member farmers manage the complete production chain, from grass to glass. In 2022, FrieslandCampina generated €11.5 billion in revenue and employed 21,715 people.

Axians logo
About Axians

Axians, an IBM Business Partner and a Vinci Energies brand, offers a broad range of information technology consultancy, advice, and solutions, including analytics, cloud and data center infrastructure, networks, security, and telecoms. Axians operates in 35 countries, generates €3.3 billion in annual revenues, and employs 14,000 people.

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