Syrex has migrated the entire South African network infrastructure of Sappi to a new environment that provides complete uptime to all its sites even those in remote areas that previously struggled to connect.

About Sappi

Sappi was formed in South Africa in 1936 to serve consumers with locally produced paper.

It operates four mills and has a combined production capacity of 690 000 tons of paper, 670 000 tons of paper pulp, and over a million tons of dissolving wood pulp per annum.

Its headquarters in Johannesburg (South Africa), manages the sub-divisions of Sappi Paper and Paper Packaging, Sappi Dissolving Wood Pulp, and Sappi Forests. Several regional functions like finance, human resources, sales and marketing, technical, and engineering as well as board functions are also based there.

The requirement

With multiple sites spread across the country, Sappi relies on its service providers to manage the entire network for resilience, security, uptime, and availability. Every five years, this network management goes out to tender.

The previous tender spanned a total of 57 sites countrywide, and encompassed the primary connection, failover connection, and a resilient connection for 37 of those sites that were labelled mission-critical.

Given the business requirements, the uptime and resilience service level agreements were such that no downtime was allowed. Furthermore, because many of its locations were in remote areas, especially the forestry sites in KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga, the new service provider had to deliver on their remote connectivity requirements as well.

Thanks to its strong partnerships and comprehensive value proposition, Syrex was awarded the tender.

The solution

The project consisted of migrating Sappi from its existing service provider to the new infrastructure. And even though 4 500 users had to be moved nationwide, the company never experienced any downtime during the implementation.

Furthermore, Syrex rolled out the Check Point integrated security solution to Sappi nationally and is offering the client 24×7 multi-level support depending on site requirements.

The result

The project took just over one year to complete and provided the client with redundant and resilient connectivity. The centralised firewall-as-a-service offering provided through Check Point for the Southern African region has further strengthened the security of the client. Sappi now also benefits from much larger internet connectivity in an effort to supports its drive to the cloud to consume services such as Microsoft Office 365.

Even though the implementation was quite complex given the scale of the organisation and that it had to be done in parallel with the previous systems, Syrex managed to complete the project with little to no disruption to existing Sappi operations.

“We had to run both new and old networks in tandem and had to be completely transparent in terms of processes until such time the cut over to the upgraded infrastructure could be made. Thanks to the strength of our partnerships, we were also able to roll out new infrastructure to the remote sites of the client to ensure always on connectivity,” says Ralph Berndt, Director for Sales and Marketing at Syrex.

Such has been the success of the project, that Sappi is likely to expand the contract into other services from Syrex. Already it is benefitting from pro-active reporting and the transparent servicing of the network to enable a more efficient organisation.

“Syrex has demonstrated its ability to provide Sappi with last-mile connectivity not only in the metropolitan areas but, more importantly, in remote locations where IT services are required”, says Deon van Aarde, Chief Information Officer at Sappi Southern Africa.

“Syrex, as a service aggregator, has been flexible and were willing to engage with existing service providers, already delivering solutions in remote locations, and taking over these services in order to provide a fully managed service to Sappi Southern Africa”, says George Grossi, Senior Manager Information Systems at Sappi Southern Africa.