DIARY OF A
We recently sat down with Kate Agoitia, Director of IT for JV Smith Companies, to ask about her experience moving to the Zumasys cloud.
Tell us about your company.
KATE: JV Smith Companies is a large vertically integrated grower and processor specializing in quality fresh produce. Our family-owned business operates growing, packing, processing and shipping operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Mexico. The JV Smith family is made up of a diverse mix of companies which include JV Farms, JV Farms Organic, Southern Colorado Farms, Skyline Potato, Skyview Cooling Company, Fresh Innovations, and Agricola El Toro.
How important is technology to your business?
KATE: In the produce industry, technology is extremely important. Everything we do revolves around using a diverse array of systems to capture, analyze, and share information. Before we moved to the cloud, we were running our applications and systems in a server room, or as I like to call it, our “server closet.”
We are headquartered in Yuma, Arizona, which is an area prone to strong monsoon storms and power outages—some of which can last for several hours. Downtime like that created major challenges for our business. When everything was on site, a power outage at our main office impacted most of our operations.
Not having access to email was probably the biggest issue. We rely heavily on email to communicate with our customers for orders and shipments. And because we transport product from our Mexico operation to the US, we have to be able to communicate electronically with our brokers to get the trucks across the border. Downtime also affected our cooler operations’ ability to load and ship product if they could not access our Famous shipping software.
Prior to moving to the cloud, what were your objections to cloud computing?
KATE: I was definitely hesitant about moving to the cloud. First and foremost, I needed to be sure that all of our applications were going to work in a Citrix environment. For years, they had worked well running on local desktops, but I needed to be 100% sure that every single one of our business-critical applications would run in the cloud.
When we first started talking to Zumasys about moving to the cloud five years ago, cloud computing was still fairly new. We knew that we wanted to work with Zumasys, but we decided to keep everything local in our own data center. From there we were able to virtualize our environment and build the base for what would become “our cloud.”
Why did you finally decide to move your data and applications to the Zumasys cloud?
KATE: We were growing out of our server space and running old versions of desktop applications, so we needed more storage and we needed to buy new software licenses. It just didn’t make sense to make the investment to refresh our existing environment knowing that our business was becoming increasingly dependent on 24/7 uptime.
I had been to Zumapalooza and toured the SuperNAP, and I knew that Zumasys had really built a strong cloud environment. I was confident they would know what it would take to migrate our infrastructure and applications onto their platform. I was sold, but it was important that our staff and management team understood the concept of cloud computing and what it meant for our company. So we took our team to Las Vegas to meet with Zumasys and tour the SuperNAP. Once they saw what it meant to be in the cloud—to physically see what the cloud was and where our data would live—they were behind it 100%.
So we went for it. We started on the migration in May of 2013. We worked closely with Zumasys’ project managers to analyze what we were running and figure out the steps to get us from point A to point B. Zumasys brought in additional swing equipment so we actually pushed everybody locally over to the cloud before we moved it all to their data center in Las Vegas. We made the move to the cloud on August 2, 2013. The transition to bring everything up in Vegas was super smooth because we had already been running in the cloud locally.
How has moving to the Zumasys cloud impacted your business?
KATE: Here’s my favorite story: On August 22, three weeks after we migrated over to the Zumasys cloud, I was flying back from our JV Farms Organic operation in Salinas, California, when the Yuma area was hit with a horrendous monsoon. It was so bad that we couldn’t even land in Yuma, so we were rerouted to the Imperial Valley to wait out the storm. I was getting constant email alerts that the power in the office was out, and I started panicking. In the past, I would have had a very short window of time to remote in and start shutting down critical infrastructure. I instinctively went into action mode, and then it dawned on me: my email is still working. I sent an email off to management saying, “Guess what? The power is out in the office, but you’re still getting this email.” It was such a huge relief. For the first time in nine years, I realized this power outage wasn’t going to stop us from running our business. It was ok, we were in the cloud!
So the uptime has really been a game changer for us. Having access to all the new desktop software has made our staff more productive. And now we have the added capability of accessing our cloud desktops any place, anywhere, anytime from almost any device.
Prior to the migration, we made a concerted effort to educate and train our office staff about the cloud and their new “working environment.” We shut down Friday at 5 p.m. and everything was up and running in the data center by Saturday night. I remember getting here early on Monday morning and noticing how quiet it was. I was expecting there to be issues or problems. But there weren’t any. People were working, applications were running, and data was flowing! Yay cloud!!
|JV Smith Companies: Produce for a Healthier Tomorrow|
At Zumasys, we like working with companies who have a story to tell and companies who are really working for more than just the bottom line. JV Smith Companies is one of those companies. They are making a difference in their community through educational programs that are helping children lead healthier lives. They spend a lot of time at schools, building gardens with students and spreading knowledge about growing and eating healthy foods. To help reinforce that knowledge at home, JV Smith Companies has sponsored Power PLAY’te, a kid-friendly paper plate that is sectioned off for each of the five food groups. This bright plate is a fun and educational way for kids to learn more about healthy eating and increase awareness about making good food choices at every meal. The Power PLAY’te program also includes a full educational package that highlights a vegetable each week at school cafeterias. Along with the vegetable of the week, there is a series of fun educational classroom instruction for each one. Learn more about Power PLAY’te at www.powerplayte.com
This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Elevate, Zumasys’ Technology Solutions Newsletter