IFCO transitions to cutting-edge cloud services with Microsoft Azure

The global leader in Reusable Packaging Containers (RPCs) continues to innovate to make the fresh grocery supply chain sustainable and digital.

IFCO logo Industry Consumer Goods Challenge

IFCO needed to move from costly on-premises legacy hardware to cutting-edge and flexible cloud services.

Solutions Cloud Optimization, Rackspace Elastic Engineering Platforms Microsoft Azure

Our customer

IFCO was established in 1992 with the primary mission of becoming the leading provider of reusable packaging systems for fresh food. IFCO was the first company globally to develop a reusable plastic crate (RPC) pooling system, specifically for transporting fresh products like fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs.

After its founding, IFCO expanded its RPC operations into seven countries in Europe, including Austria, Switzerland, France, Scandinavia, Spain and the UK. IFCO now operates a pool of over 370 million RPCs, serving customers in 50 countries worldwide. By sharing and reusing IFCO RPCs, their customers actively participate in the circular economy, eliminating the environmental impacts associated with single-use packaging. This supports IFCO´s purpose to make the fresh grocery supply chain sustainable.

“What stood out for me in the process was the depth of the knowledge that Rackspace had.”
Kare Heikkila, CIO, IFCO

The obstacles they faced

IFCO relies heavily on its homegrown MyIFCO system to help customers easily manage their RPC assets, saving them time and money. But after more than 20 years of development and updates, MyIFCO was due for a substantial overhaul – a comprehensive transformation geared towards revolutionizing user experience for IFCO’s customers, delivering faster functionality, and enhanced features.

With a large on-premises environment, the cost of supporting and expanding its capabilities was becoming increasingly prohibitive. The company’s challenge was now transforming MyIFCO from a monolithic system to a microservices-based architecture. As part of the company's growth agenda, IFCO realized they needed a more flexible platform to host their critical systems and data analytics solutions.

“For IFCO, the whole topic of cloud transformation was brand new," explains Kare Heikkila, CIO at IFCO Systems. “We didn't have any capabilities in this area, so we had to find the right partner for us and choose the cloud platform.”

IFCO needed a solution that would enable better customer experiences and features without the high costs associated with maintaining its existing setup. Based on how the company envisioned its platform transforming, the internal team quickly realized that Microsoft® Azure® provided the flexibility needed and a more complete picture of supporting services.

“Microsoft Azure seemed like a natural fit to us. We are a Microsoft house, they are one of the leading platforms on the market, and they are trusted by our customers,” recalls Heikkila.

Man working in his laptop

“We had a really good partner with Rackspace. Their skilled engineering team and exceptional architects allowed us to successfully tackle this challenge."

Alex Bellermann, Head of Global Infrastructure and Cloud, IFCO
Two men having a business conversation

How we helped

“IFCO’s IT department is quite small,” explains Axel Bellermann, Head of Global Infrastructure and Cloud at IFCO. “We were new to the cloud and wanted a partner who had done this several times before. With Rackspace, we could leverage their experience with other customers to help deliver for us.”

Rackspace Technology stood out during the RFP process by offering IFCO valuable insights and alternative approaches to its proposed plan.

“Two things stood out to us about Rackspace Technology: the capabilities of their people and their emphasis on the customer,” remembers Heikkila. “They had a large team representing all the skills and capabilities we needed to implement our cloud transformation and the focus on the customer to complete it successfully.”

After winning the bid, Rackspace Technology embarked on a multifaceted project with IFCO involving foundational work in Azure, including networking and subscriptions, as well as application modernization.

“In parallel, we also went with our data analytics platform to the cloud,” says Bellermann. “We came from a proprietary solution and now have a huge environment with lots of services to gather lots of insights into our data.”

Rackspace Technology significantly enhanced IFCO's IT operations by implementing faster and more robust infrastructure deployments using infrastructure as code. This shift not only streamlined the deployment process but also integrated a DevOps methodology, fostering better coordination between application and infrastructure deployments across various environments.

“Overall, bringing our systems to the cloud was a greenfield approach with Rackspace Technology,” recalls Bellermann. “We had to first establish connectivity first, then build our logging environment, and finally build the necessary landing zones.”

We established a hub and spoke architecture, giving us the flexibility to work in parallel on different streams, and followed industry best practices for cloud adoption. Now, we’ve been up and running stable for more than a year.”

In collaboration with IFCO, we developed a disaster recovery (DR) strategy that aligned with its recovery point objectives (RPO), recovery time objectives (RTO) and budgetary requirements.

Our services also extended to include operational health, incorporating FinOps-based services to optimize financial and operational efficiency, and round-the-clock support and escalation through the dedicated operations teams of Modern Operations Premium.

Lastly, our contribution encompassed the development of architecture and strategy, ensuring a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to IFCO's IT needs.

What we achieved together

By leveraging Rackspace Professional Services, Rackspace Modern Operations Premium, Rackspace Elastic Engineering, the Rackspace Technology team was able to successfully migrate IFCO's critical systems to Azure and avoid major outages or problems.

“The new cloud environment offers significant advantages over our previous setup,” explains Heikkila. “Firstly, it's highly scalable, eliminating concerns about whether our critical systems can support business growth. Secondly, it provides advanced monitoring capabilities, including the latest security features, making the platform more robust and reliable for our customers. Thirdly, it allows for faster implementation of improvements, including new features from Microsoft, as well as core updates in our applications.”

Rackspace Modern Operations offered IFCO a blend of proactive and reactive operational support, enabling it to maintain its focus on development and innovation. Rackspace Elastic Engineering provided the flexibility needed for project-based work.

“You need all these solutions because the Rackspace Elastic Engineering pod is working 9 to 5, so who covers the rest of the day?,” explains Bellermann. “Because we’re a global company, our platform and our services are consumed 24x7, so someone needs to monitor that. That's why we have the combination of Rackspace Modern Operations and Rackspace Elastic Engineering.”

The collaboration has led to significant benefits for IFCO, including faster release cycles, efficient development processes and the ability to embark on new projects.

Rackspace Technology helped transform IFCO's approach to technology, making it an integral part of its product delivery and innovation strategy.

“We are now revising our IT strategy and roadmap for the next 3 to 5 years. We can look at things like how we exploit artificial intelligence. We are planning to upgrade our SAP solution and make the most of our current platforms,” comments Heikkila. “All of that combined, Rackspace and Microsoft Azure is an essential backbone to enable all of the things we want to do in the coming years.”

About Rackspace Technology

Rackspace Technology is a hybrid, multicloud solutions expert. We combine our expertise with the world’s leading technologies — across AI, applications, data and security — to deliver end-to-end solutions. We have a proven record of advising customers based on their business challenges, designing solutions that scale, building and managing those solutions, and optimizing returns into the future. 

As a global hybrid, multicloud technology services pioneer, we deliver innovative capabilities to help customers build new revenue streams, increase efficiency and create incredible experiences. Named a best place to work, year after year according to Fortune, Forbes and Glassdoor, we attract and develop world-class talent to deliver the best expertise to our customers. Everything we do is wrapped in Fanatical Experience® — our obsession with customer success that drives us to help each customer work faster, smarter and stay ahead of what’s next. 


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