As a large enterprise, it is imperative to operate with secure, uninterrupted network connectivity to avoid costly downtime and lack of productivity. For Fibertex, this was top priority and ultimately meant continuous, rigorous testing and monitoring to ensure it achieved overall success. Thomas Martens, IT Team Lead and Senior IT Administrator, tells us why the company chose a Barracuda solution to improve performance.
Counting the cost
As the third largest producer in the world of non-woven materials, Danish manufacturer, Fibertex, counts the cost when its factories grind to a halt due to network connectivity failure. After 15 minutes, it stops production. The subsequent downtime costs around 100,000kr for every hour lost.
“Connectivity at two of our largest production sites in Malaysia was a major problem for us. We were reliant on two very expensive MPLS lines and when one went down, the other line typically didn’t work. This meant problems connecting with our Danish HQ in Aalborg. We’ve got 14 factories in total with multiple lines on every site. But with the ERP system running from Denmark, everything at our remote locations ran really slowly, which was very frustrating and network latency was really high,” said Thomas Martens, IT Team Lead and Senior IT Administrator.
“We work with medical materials, so the quality and safety of our products is critical. If you have kids, it’s likely that you have used products made by Fibertex at some point. This means continuous, rigorous testing and monitoring to ensure that they meet the highest standards. Our customers expect nothing less. We need to track everything to maintain our stringent hygiene and cleaning standards. We simply cannot afford production downtime.”
The existing firewall solution also meant that troubleshooting was difficult, meaning that Martens and the team spent half a day, every day on network maintenance.
Investing in a software-defined future
“This couldn’t go on. We needed secure, uninterrupted network connectivity at all of our locations, more bandwidth and low latency to keep everything running. Using multiple ISP links, load balancing and automatic fall back was also essential, so we knew we were looking at implementing SD-WAN,” said Martens.
Martens therefore turned to trusted IT security partner, Ezenta, for advice and Senior Network Specialist, Mikkel Planck, suggested Barracuda’s offerings.
“Barracuda quickly set up a proof of concept trial for its CloudGen Firewall. I was really impressed with what I saw. The set up only took two days. Barracuda installed three boxes directly on our sites in Denmark and Malaysia, in addition to a virtual firewall. We let the trial run and one week in, there was a major line drop during testing. We were braced for the usual disruption but everything continued to work without interruption. We tested other vendors at the time but nothing came close to Barracuda,” said Martens.
Reaping the rewards
“We’ve installed Barracuda’s firewall solution at 14 of our 22 locations so far in Japan, America, Malaysia, Brazil and across Europe. Thanks to the proof of concept trial, deployment has been seamless. Setting up a new location takes just minutes, we can do this at the flick of a switch. The configuration stays the same, we just set up a new box without any downtime or migration problems. It’s really easy to replace a unit and we can just choose the line with the lowest latency if we need to change lines for one of our sites.”
A single management interface means the team can easily visualise and monitor network performance and they now only spend a few hours each week on any maintenance.
“We don’t even have to look every day. The old firewall meant we spent hours each day troubleshooting but now we have the time to spend on new projects like upgrading our infrastructure and carrying out a new SharePoint installation.”
“We were also highly impressed with the level of support from Alex and the Barracuda team. We felt like we were on our own before without much support from our previous vendor. We are now part of a really great partnership with Barracuda and Ezenta.”
Data analytics is on the roadmap and Martens is looking at how Barracuda Firewall Insights can help the team better manage the network and SD-WAN connections.
Thomas Martens explains in more detail why the Barracuda solution was a great fit for Fibertex.
Can you provide an overview of Fibertex’s core business objectives?
Our primary business objective is to stand out and be the best among our competitors when it comes to quality. Accordingly, we strive to provide a dependable and reliable offering, so people feel safe using our product when it comes to providing for their customers. We know that we are not the cheapest out there, but our quality is second to none and that makes it worth the price tag.
What were some of the unique cyberthreats you experienced when operating with the previous solution? Have these now been resolved with Barracuda?
Our main priority was that we required the functionality of the SD-WAN. We had a few issues with ransomware prior to utilising the Barracuda software and since employing the new solution we haven’t had any ransomware trouble at all. Since moving to Barracuda, we directly benefit from the practicality of SD-WAN as well as enjoying the peace of mind that comes from knowing our security is taken care of.
What kinds of efficiencies has the seamless solution enabled?
We benefit from much more stable production now and don’t suffer from network connectivity failures as we did before. Thanks to SD-WAN, if one Internet connection breaks down, the other line takes over. As a result, we are preventing expensive product downtime and saving a lot of time elsewhere too, in both maintaining the solution and in closing down the lines if we lost connectivity and restarting them again when we regained connection.
What security benefits does visualising and monitoring network performance offer?
By visualising and monitoring network performance we are able to get a clearer overview of our network infrastructure in operation across the world. Alongside this, since employing Barracuda’s solutions, we are able to figure out performance issues regarding network and latency with ease in order to quickly resolve them, which was a big problem with our old vendor.
What sort of long-term benefits has the solution provided?
It’s definitely saved costs. We no longer have to pay for expensive MPLS lines and with our old solution we had to spend a lot of money on consultants – this is no longer an issue for us. Deploying Barracuda CloudGen Firewall has saved the business 400,000kr so far. Furthermore, a considerable amount of our own time was also spent trying to maintain the previous solution. With Barracuda, everything is stable and runs smoothly, freeing up our time to focus on the projects that really matter to our business. This allows us to competitively differentiate from our competitors.
What does the future security roadmap look like for Fibertex?
First on the to-do list, we still need to replace a few of our old firewalls with Barracuda CloudGen Firewall. When that’s complete, we will start to look into optimising our set up further. Additionally, we are looking into ensuring our setup is more secure, by both improving user awareness and employee training, and by implementing a more holistic security setup with Barracuda Next-Generation anti-virus.