Morné van Heerden, Group CIO: Alviva, Hendrik Krüger, Group IT Manager: Alviva & Johannes Groenewald, General Manager: Demand Factory
Alviva Holdings, the JSE-listed parent of several technology companies including Tarsus Technology Group, has completed a total overhaul of Tarsus Distribution’s (TD) technology infrastructure. This follows Alviva’s acquisition of the group in 2021 and is part of a strategy to consolidate business services used by multiple parts of the organisation.
Because the Tarsus Technology Group had grown through mergers and acquisitions over many years, TD’s IT environment had become fragmented and decentralised and needed a restructure to future-proof the business. The extensive project was led by Morné van Heerden, Group CIO: Alviva, and Hendrik Krüger, Group IT Manager: Alviva, and focused on architecture, security, and network modernisation and best practices.
Johannes Groenewald, General Manager at Demand Factory within Tarsus Distribution, says the successful outcomes of this major upgrade to a shared services centre demonstrates the true value of trusted partnerships.
“No one can be a master of everything,” he says. “It has been of enormous value for Tarsus Distribution to be realistic about our requirements as a business on the journey to digital transformation. In addition, we have been able to take advantage of Alviva’s resources and its experts who have different skills and talents across a plethora of solutions.”
Van Heerden and his team took 12 months to design the TD IT structure, including the value proposition and the services and platforms that would make up the extensive shared physical infrastructure. Alviva had to migrate all TD servers to a private cloud on Teraco's Africa Cloud Exchange, which hosts ten of the holding company’s subsidiaries, all the while considering security, visibility, governance and compliance.
“Centralising and co-locating servers and networking in Teraco’s data centre environment provides TD with the highest levels of connectivity and guaranteed uptime, stringent security and optimal operating conditions,” says Van Heerden. “We took the same approach to every component of the upgrade, including the infrastructure, hardware and solutions – we opted for the best of what was available on the market to build a world class presence for the business.”
The project included six key objectives: managed services provision, user administration, security, infrastructure, server administration, and external perimeter management. In addition to the shared physical infrastructure, he adds, Alviva applied best practice thinking to TD’s security and networking requirements.
“We chose highly specialised solutions for each functional area of the cybersecurity system,” says Van Heerden. “For example, we selected discrete best-of-breed products for identity management, endpoint detection and response (EDR), cloud access security brokers, zero trust network access, and more. Our focus is not on brand loyalty, but on making sure we serve the needs of the customer, the companies within the Alviva Group. We are always on the lookout for the best products on the market, especially when it comes to protection from cyberattacks.”
In a post-pandemic scenario, making sure that hybrid TD workers can access the apps, data and software they need to do their jobs required a major shift in TD’s network configuration.
“We needed to provide TD with stable and reliable network performance for employees who could be anywhere, using any number of devices, running any number of production workloads, irrespective of which platforms or applications they were using. Delivered as a cloud service, the network solution enables data integration, data management and secure data exchange across on-premises and cloud applications, connected devices, business partners and customers.”
Groenewald says he is impressed by Alviva’s consultative approach. “The team examined our problems and designed a technology stack that is in line with TD’s business requirements, not with group policy. It was about drilling down to what we wanted from our technology now and into the future. They have fundamentally improved the quality and resilience of our digital services so that we can serve customers better.”
"Having an end state in mind," says Krüger, "has helped to make the journey that much easier, assisting with product selection, as well as strategy and approach."
“Every business requires a solid foundation to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital transformation, which TD now has,” Krüger adds. “But the fundamental component of this transformation is leadership. Digital transformation without people and culture at the heart is nothing more than another tech deployment. TD’s end users have been just as foundational to the business transformation as the technology. They have embraced change and demonstrated a remarkable willingness to participate every step of the way.”