Port+, a company that provides data services to carriers, their ship’s agents, nautical partners and sub-suppliers in the Port of Antwerp, believes that the future of IT for SME's is in the cloud. Therefore Port+ migrated its IT environment to the cloud in collaboration with Arxus.
Port+ is a service provider to the Port of Antwerp. The company offers fully-integrated services, e.g. the tracking of ocean-going vessels for specialized personnel. The activities of Port+ are based on centralizing data about the arrival and departure of ocean-going vessels.
“An efficient, reliable and round-the-clock IT infrastructure is, in that regard, indispensable”, says Benoit Lebrun, Business Unit Manager at Port+. “The port operates day and night, seven days a week. This also means that our systems and data have to be available at all times.” Port+ guarantees its service with twenty-five employees.
With its information about the arrival and departure of ocean-going vessels, Port+ underpins the whole nautical chain of command. “A correct snapshot of a vessel approaching the harbor improves the efficiency of all relevant parties in the port community: ship’s agents and sub-suppliers, but also tugs and river pilots, etc.”
Concretely, the data from Port+ is the starting-point for the planning of all those involved. Thanks to the data of Port+, the ship’s agent knows exactly when the ship will berth, the suppliers of foodstuffs and spare parts know when then have to be on the quay, etc., …. “In the port, we act as a kind of moderator in the field of data.”
Scalable services, predictable budget
The applications of Port+ run, via Arxus, in the public cloud. “That is the future, and certainly for an SME like ourselves”, said Lebrun. “For a small organization, it’s simply no longer realistic to run a datacenter by yourself.” The added value of Arxus lies not so much in the cloud, but in the managed services that the customer can draw on, e.g. in the fields of data protection, backups, vessel tracking, data monitoring, etc. “Via Arxus we can count on a helpdesk with forty staff”, said Lebrun. “That affords a whole new level of support than what we could have possibly organized here, by ourselves.”
Opting for the cloud also changed our outlook on the budget for IT. “In the cloud you’re no longer tied to the traditional investment model”, Lebrun explained. “When investing in IT infrastructure, you pay, up front, for something that is usually a couple of sizes too large – but that, in time, turns out to be too small.” In the cloud, it’s different. “You pay only for what you need. It’s easy to scale up, while the costs remain transparent and predictable.”
Above all, Port+ regards itself as a service provider, and not as a data- or IT company. What’s more, the company doesn’t even have its own IT department. “A conscious choice”, said Lebrun. “In the context of an SME, it’s not realistic to develop the necessary expertise for all IT fields. As a professionally supported IT environment is essential for our company, we therefore enlist the services of a specialized partner.” Doing this has changed our company’s outlook on IT. “Choosing the right partner is crucial. You have to see eye to eye.”
As to developing apps, Port+ had, previously, gained some experience with District01 – a company from the Cronos Group. The application was housed, for a while, at the datacenter of the Port Authority. When that contract ended, Port+ looked for a solution that would take most routine duties off the Authority’s hands.
The data platform NxtPort of the Antwerp Port Authority – that has the same shareholders as Port+ – had, just previously, selected a solution in the cloud via Arxus – a company from the Uptime Group. Given the link to NxtPort and the positive experience with District01, it was, for Port+, a logical choice to also approach Arxus. “Furthermore, via Cronos and Uptime Group, we have ready access to all manner of (other) IT expertise. That, too, proved decisive.”
Tailored to current needs
But, in Port+’s eyes, the main advantage lies in the ‘total solution’. “We can focus, 100%, on our business, without having to worry about the technology that underpins our service provision. All systems are configured to allow us to roll back, by three hours, with no loss of data.” For that matter, the whole GDPR chapter is taken care of. No data processing, in fact, takes place at Arxus. “Together with Arxus, we ensure that the existing configuration perfectly meets our current needs”, Lebrun concluded. “That is the ultimate added value of the cloud: you can always count on the best-fit solution.”
Thanks to Arxus we can enjoy the ultimate added value of the cloud: a solution that is permanently tailored to our needs, without the concerns that are connected with an on-premise infrastructure.
- Benoit Lebrun, Port+