Worker stocking a grocery shelf

SoftwareONE and Harvest Sherwood case study

SoftwareONE helps Harvest Sherwood keep food deliveries on track during COVID-19 by migrating to Microsoft Azure

Harvest Sherwood needed to upgrade its IT infrastructure for many reasons

The food distributer wanted to enable remote workers, fix reliability issues, and bolster security so the business could continue growing with confidence.

Partnering with SoftwareONE to migrate to Microsoft Azure and deploy Windows Virtual Desktop

In an effort to move key processes to the cloud, Harvest Sherwood partnered with SoftwareONE to fully leverage Microsoft technology.

Improved reliability, reduced risk and costs, safer employees, and stocked shelves

By migrating to Microsoft Azure, SoftwareONE helped Harvest Sherwood reduce operating costs, maximize uptime, empower remote workers, and keep food deliveries on track.

There’s a term you’ve probably heard thrown around a lot following the outbreak of COVID-19: business continuity. For some organizations, a lack of business continuity threatens profits. For others, it threatens lives.

Harvest Sherwood is a large, US-based food distributor responsible for moving 32 million pounds of food across the country every week. In the midst of a pandemic, when grocery stores are seeing a dramatic increase in demand, the importance of reliable food distribution is heightened. If shelves are empty, families could go hungry.

This was an unacceptable prospect to Harvest Sherwood. Even before COVID-19, the distributor knew it wanted to improve its service and reliability. The business was already investing in advanced technology to help with order processing, inventory control, truck tracking, market information, product handling, and UPC bar-code scanning, but its aging IT infrastructure was struggling to keep up. Disparate, on-premises servers and legacy apps were causing bottlenecks that were overwhelming the Harvest Sherwood IT team, forcing them to spend their time putting out fires rather than driving the business forward. Improved reliability wasn’t the only goal for this IT update, though – Harvest Sherwood also wanted to enable its employees to work remotely and improve the business’s security by migrating to the Microsoft Azure cloud.

To help with this digital transformation, Harvest Sherwood reached out to Microsoft partner SoftwareONE. Boasting 15 different Gold Partner competencies, more than 30 years of experience working with Microsoft, and an incredible team of 24/7 worldwide experts, SoftwareONE was uniquely positioned to guide Harvest Sherwood through its cloud journey. Together, they set out to migrate Harvest Sherwood’s operations to Microsoft Azure, unlocking the power, scale, and security required to meet the growing food distributor’s needs.

Migrating to the cloud

Prior to the migration, Harvest Sherwood relied on one on-premises SQL database – everything was single instance and it had a very limited backup and recovery plan. With its primary data centers in Cleveland, San Diego, and Detroit, as well as several smaller data centers supporting regional sales operations, Harvest Sherwood had inadvertently assumed enormous risk – one natural disaster could wipe out a catastrophic amount of its data and it would be left with no backup.

To address this, SoftwareONE worked with Harvest Sherwood to accomplish two tasks. The first was to consolidate the distributor’s two Active Directory environments into a single forest. This allowed Harvest Sherwood to eliminate aging hardware and software systems, as well as add security, scalability, performance, and disaster recovery abilities. The second was to consolidate Harvest Sherwood’s 60 servers and eight SQL Servers into Microsoft Azure to support data center operations and remote employees.

Using SQL Always On Enterprise, SoftwareONE gave Harvest Sherwood’s applications high availability to streamline communication with vendors and ensure orders are fulfilled on time. SoftwareONE also established primary and secondary disaster recovery regions, replicating Harvest Sherwood’s data in real time to reduce the risk of data loss.

Finally, SoftwareONE helped Harvest Sherwood empower its remote workforce by deploying Windows Virtual Desktop. Prior to the cloud migration, it was challenging for Harvest Sherwood employees to work from home – workers had limited access to the apps and information they needed to do their jobs and granting remote access posed security challenges. By deploying Windows Virtual Desktop, SoftwareONE empowered Harvest Sherwood’s remote workers with improved functionality, seamless access from anywhere, and best-in-class security.

Throughout the entire migration, SoftwareONE worked closely with the Harvest Sherwood IT team to help them build out their own cloud skillset, enabling them to later manage and update their Microsoft Azure environment independently as their business needs evolve.

“Before our move to the cloud, we had diverse legacy applications that couldn’t communicate with each other, and our IT team was overloaded with day-to-day problem-solving. With our migration to Azure, SoftwareONE helped us bring our IT systems under one roof, with the flexibility, scalability, and security we need to operate and grow as a single, cohesive company.”

—Kris Arthur, Director, IT Infrastructure & Operations, Harvest Sherwood Food Distributors

Unlocking key outcomes

With help from SoftwareONE, Harvest Sherwood’s migration was a success. By leveraging the power of Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technologies, the distributor had unlocked the three key outcomes it hoped for: improved reliability, empowered remote workers, and bolstered security.

Improving reliability

As discussed earlier, reliability is everything for a food distributer during a pandemic. Grocery store shelves must be stocked, or else thousands of people could face food insecurity. Thankfully, Harvest Sherwood’s migration to Microsoft Azure and its consolidated Active Directory environments allowed it to update its hardware and backup systems. With significantly reduced downtime and disaster risk, Harvest Sherwood employees can now process orders faster than ever and fewer orders are being delayed.

Empowering remote workers

When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, it was critical for Harvest Sherwood employees to begin working remotely. Unfortunately, their disparate legacy systems and outdated IT infrastructure couldn’t support this staffing approach. However, after migrating to Microsoft Azure, SoftwareONE was able to seamlessly stand up Windows Virtual Desktop for Harvest Sherwood over the course of a single weekend, enabling its employees around the world to work and collaborate securely from home. Currently, Harvest Sherwood has approximately 700 employees leveraging Windows Virtual Desktop globally.

“If we hadn’t moved to Azure, we couldn’t have shifted to a remote work environment when COVID-19 struck. With the migration done, when we called on the SoftwareONE team to help us deploy Windows Virtual Desktop , they had us up and running in days, which allowed us to keep our employees safe and our food deliveries moving.”

—Kris Arthur, Director, IT Infrastructure & Operations, Harvest Sherwood Food Distributors

Bolstering security

As a rapidly growing, $4B USD company, Harvest Sherwood also wanted to use this cloud migration to enhance its security. In the food distribution industry, IT security directly impacts food security – if Harvest Sherwood’s operation were ever compromised, it could cause dangerous delivery delays.

Security was a key driver behind why Harvest Sherwood selected Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. Microsoft Azure features best-in-class, end-to-end security and boasts over 90 different compliance certifications. By migrating its operation to Microsoft Azure, Harvest Sherwood successfully bolstered security while reducing the risk of data loss. Leveraging its deep experience with Microsoft Azure security, SoftwareONE further protected the distributor by deploying Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Entra multifactor authentication, and Microsoft Entra Conditional Access, effectively extending Harvest Sherwood’s security perimeter beyond its network to also factor in user and device identity.

Looking ahead

Now that Harvest Sherwood has successfully migrated to Microsoft Azure and deployed Windows Virtual Desktop to empower its remote workers, the distributor can focus on what it does best: ensuring food gets delivered where and when it’s needed most. As the business continues to innovate and grow, it can do so with confidence while receiving world-class cloud support from SoftwareONE as part of its AzureSimple program which includes support for Azure consumption, cloud analytics via SoftwareONE’s PyraCloud platform (available on SoftwareONE’s website and Microsoft AppSource), and technical troubleshooting.

“Working with SoftwareONE allowed us to provide enhanced availability beyond our four walls to facilitate today’s necessary work from home environment. In addition, by leveraging both Microsoft technologies and SoftwareONE’s cloud migration expertise, we were able to rethink how to approach disaster recovery and business continuity, while maintaining scale for peaks in demand via a modern, secure data center with enhanced backup capabilities. Domain consolidation with multi-factor authentication improved our overall security strategy – ensuring a secure and seamless work from home environment.”

—John Vander Wagen, CIO, Harvest Sherwood Food Distributors

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