Cloud-as-a-Service Makes Frísia a Leader in the Agribusiness Industry

HPE GreenLake

When I started as an intern in IT at Frísia Cooperativa Agroindustrial in 1994, I was the only woman in the department, and I got used to being the only woman in the room. However, this never stopped me from moving forward, getting my job as a support analyst and leading the entire IT department, in addition to managing a technology project that put us at the forefront of a market system with the possibility of expansion. faster than in the past.

Founded in 1925 by Dutch immigrants, Frísia Cooperativa Agroindustrial is the second-oldest agricultural production cooperative in Brazil, and the oldest in our home state of Paraná. In 2021, our nearly 1,000-strong membership produced 290 million liters of milk, over 895,000 tons of grain, 30,000 tons of swine, and 89,000 tons of commercialized wood. Frísia provides products and services of excellence across the entire agricultural chain. Our mission is to generate sustainable revenue for cooperative members, all while respecting the environment and animal welfare.

I have always received respect from everyone at Frísia as well as peers at other cooperatives, and I firmly believe that women have an instinct for leadership. When I stepped into my role as IT Coordinator in 2015, it felt like a natural progression. 

The biggest IT challenge is continuity. When everything runs smoothly, IT goes unnoticed. But when something goes wrong, IT is the first call people make.

My 30-person IT department is responsible for the development and support of the cooperative’s systems. This includes all transactional and secondary systems, with the exception of industrial automation and payroll, where we provide technical support for the databases and servers only. We also handle general support for hardware and software issues, information security, internal and internet connectivity, fixed and mobile telephony, stabilized energy, and data centers and technical rooms. In addition to supporting the cooperative’s needs, we facilitate business for our members, who access their data and make transactions through Frísia’s app and portal.

It is a long list of responsibilities, and our biggest day-to-day challenge is continuity. When all runs smoothly, my department goes unnoticed. But when something goes wrong, we are the first to be contacted. I wanted to improve our business continuity, so I turned to our well-known partners for some options. 

The Speed of Innovation Puts Pressure on IT Teams

In my nearly 30 years with the cooperative, we’ve enjoyed reciprocal relationships with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and our channel partner, Guaíba Tecnologia. As technology has progressed, HPE and Guaíba have provided customized information and collaboration on projects tailored to Frísia’s needs.

Our previous environment had a lot of HPE ProLiant servers, HPE 3PAR Storage and HPE Aruba switches. They performed well, but there were so many new advances that eventually, we couldn’t ignore that our environment was in need of an upgrade. Performance wasn’t as good as it could be, which affected the department’s day-to-day operations as well as our ability to fulfill the demands of all business areas. In the context of diminishing performance, managing all the equipment became difficult. Hardware becomes obsolete faster than before, and with this, the processes to maintain even relatively new systems become even more time-consuming.      

Hardware becomes obsolete faster than before, and with this, the processes to maintain even relatively new systems become even more time-consuming.

I became aware of the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform through our regular meetings with Guaíba, participating in technical events, and attending HPE Discover Las Vegas in 2022. The most appealing element was the ability to offload the management burden. Management and maintenance processes were taking up a significant portion of my team’s time, so having HPE handle and maintain all equipment made it an attractive proposition.  

It was also about the total cost of ownership (TCO). We didn’t want to handle any more hardware. Apart from saving time on maintenance, we would also save space in our data center, and discussions with Frísia’s finance and accounting teams confirmed that adding HPE GreenLake cloud services would reduce costs. It’s natural that as the cooperative grows, we have to make investments in technology. That said, IT accounts for just 0.4% of the cooperative’s budget, so we want to make those investments as efficient and cost-effective as possible. We all agreed that transferring our previous HPE hardware contract to the HPE GreenLake platform would achieve that goal.

Cloud-as-a-Service Delivers for Our Business, Our Members, and the Planet

By moving to the HPE GreenLake platform, we have realized a longstanding desire to have monthly and actual costs align with the resources we actually use. The HPE GreenLake platforms flexible pay-as-you-go model allows for growth, because we can expand and contract as the business demands rather than trying to estimate—and pay upfront for—what we think we’ll need.

Today, we run services ranging from the most basic to mission-critical through the HPE GreenLake platform leveraging HPE Alletra dHCI (comprised of HPE ProLiant DL Gen10 compute and HPE Alletra 6000 storage). These services include a variety of applications, all our databases with the exception of Oracle, and the entire virtualization environment. Remember that our previous day-to-day challenges included maintaining all systems and connections. Compare that to now: We have achieved a 50% increase in performance compared to our legacy environment, with more than 99.5% uptime. We can manage the whole virtualization environment—computation, storage, and networking—from a single platform, simplifying administration. This simplicity means I don’t need to hire additional people, as the new tool provides significant agility in day-to-day operations.

IT has a role to play in sustainability initiatives, too. Energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions are among the benefits of a cloud-as-a-service model.

Enhanced security starts with keeping everything up to date, and relying on HPE GreenLake Services ensures we have consistently updated equipment. We have also noticed a significant improvement in the process around support. HPE Support acts preventatively and correctively, functioning as an integral part of our team. This makes us more assertive in meeting our daily challenges.

Frísia is conscious of the importance of agricultural producers in protecting the environment. Sustainability initiatives are not limited to the core business, however—IT has a role to play, too. Environmental impact may not have been among the initial drivers of this project, but energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions have proven to be among the benefits of HPE GreenLake’s cloud-as-a-service model.

For starters, the HPE GreenLake platform gives us access to the latest, most energy-efficient technology, which may have been out of our reach had we bought the hardware outright. Additionally, paying only for what we use means we avoid overprovisioning to leave room for future growth. Moving to the HPE GreenLake platform has also optimized the physical space in our data centers, reduced our energy consumption by around 40% compared to our previous equipment, and lightened the load on our air conditioning systems. All of these factors directly contribute to reducing Frísia’s greenhouse gas emissions, aligning my department with Frísia’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.   

A Rewarding Journey

Progress is often slow, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the journey. Fortunately, nearly 30 years after starting my role at Frísia, I am not the only woman in my department. It’s been incredible to see other women hold positions such as business specialists, systems analysts, and support analysts—helping Frísia surge forward on exciting projects and tackle new challenges with fresh perspectives.

Our adoption of the HPE GreenLake platform was one of those exciting projects. We’re at the forefront of technology, which has enabled us to become more agile. It was a big challenge, but also a big success, and our example will serve as the initiative for other companies waiting to do the same.