Based in Oxnard, California, Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC) is the world’s largest fresh multi-berry producer. The family-owned agricultural grower produces Driscoll’s proprietary varieties of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries year-round in the United States, Mexico, Portugal, Germany, Morocco, Canada, Peru and China.
The Reiter family began farming in the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, and by the turn of the century, had migrated south into the Santa Clara Valley. In the 1970s, operations expanded into southern California.
Since then, RAC has doubled in size roughly every five years. Today, RAC remains committed to its harvesters and employs more than 30,000 workers worldwide. Its company values — honesty, fairness and respect — are displayed prominently in the hallways of every office as a reminder of the foundation on which the company has built its business.
RAC has established itself as an industry leader, adopting health and wellness programs, opening primary health clinics and working with local organizations to improve the quality of life for the farmworker community. Along with this growth, RAC experienced costly operational challenges and inefficiencies tied to the occasional need for a manual scale-up of operations.
“Looking back at our approach to IT, we were a little of ‘everything everywhere,’ understandably, without a clear enterprise architecture in mind,” said CIO John Thompson. “Our approach to technology was more reactive, supporting growth, but only when required.”
“With the right technology in place, we can gain real insight in real time. The ability to knowledge-share across huge geography, many ranches and many people speaking different languages is going to be a game changer.”
The obstacles they faced
RAC turned to Rackspace Technology® to modernize its technology stack and improve overall data accessibility. RAC, which has been a Rackspace Technology customer since 2016, elected initially to bring together a global hardware and hosting footprint for its many technologies and applications.
Early on, Rackspace Technology helped RAC expand its email capabilities by migrating to Microsoft Office 365™. As RAC grew, it moved to Rackspace Private Cloud, consolidating devices in its Oxnard data center and moving workloads to a more modern VMware® solution.
“RAC had infrastructure deployed across the globe that was inconsistent in age, in vendor and in terms of how we use that hardware to help the business grow,” said Thompson. “Moving infrastructure to Rackspace Technology was the start of a broader enterprise and global focus.”
More recently, RAC consolidated its data center and migrated from a legacy environment to Rackspace Private Cloud powered by VMware. By migrating, the company seeks to improve its agility with a workforce that is both geographically dispersed and linguistically diverse.
“We are a family business with a culture and set of values we are proud of. We wanted to partner with a company that had similar values and history. I wanted executive connections in case I needed urgent attention, a cost-effective solution that provided all of our operational and technical requirements, and a flexible arrangement. I have all of these with Rackspace Technology.”
How we helped
RAC currently uses technologies to support its finance organization and HR teams, and it utilizes a number of custom applications hosted by Rackspace Technology that provide key data used by frontline employees. With its migration to private cloud, the company was able to reduce costs and significantly increase compute performance within the same budget. We also helped RAC build out a disaster recovery environment.
The company saw immediate improvement in performance of a number of applications, including its custom SQL application and back-up solution. We also helped RAC to consolidate and combine workloads while upgrading its storage capabilities.
Said Thompson of the migration, “We saw not only cost optimization, but significant performance improvement, while at the same time maintaining our disaster recovery capabilities in the new environment.”
What we achieved together
RAC was able to reduce infrastructure costs and reinvest in other areas of its organization without increasing the overall IT budget. The company was able to build out disaster recovery capabilities it didn't have previously, and achieved this goal with minor incremental cost, giving it more performance within the same budget.
When incidents arise where RAC needed additional help or expertise, Rackspace Technology has delivered. Thompson said the collaborative flexibility and expertise of the Rackspace Technology team enabled the company to better use its own resources while elevating trust.
Recent changes have shown RAC exactly how Rackspace Technology can respond rapidly to time-sensitive challenges, and to extend the RAC technology team. The Rackspace Technology team in Mexico even plays a key role in the partnership by working with RAC employees also in Mexico.
“Rackspace was able to go above and beyond, including having multilingual staff, which is a real benefit given that the vast majority of our frontline operatives and much of my team speak Spanish as a first language,” said Thompson.
Rackspace Technology was able to help RAC consolidate workloads, migrate to a newer, more robust and flexible platform. With a modernized cloud solution and its access to expertise, RAC's technological backbone is faster and more responsive than before, allowing employees to invest more energy in the core business of the company, and partnering with a trusted vendor to take care of the rest.
“The recent migration really got us into the nuts and bolts of the old environment as we migrated to the new VMware environment, and we found that we've now got a greater understanding of where we are today and how we can build on that to support the business as we grow in the future,” said Thompson.
With the digital transformation that RAC is undertaking, the company aims to make diligent usage of IoT, particularly to conserve water in the growth of its berries. RAC’s ambition is to measure water usage, monitor moisture and manage fertilization programs effectively, capturing the data in real time. Improved access to this data will raise the company’s capabilities, allowing it to optimize communications, operations and of course, the berry production process.
"We anticipate being able to scale much more efficiently in the near future," said Thompson. "The amount of data that we will be collecting, along with the computing power and storage that we have at our disposal, will provide our frontline workers with many important insights."
“With the right technology in place, we can gain real insights in real time,” said Thompson. “The ability to knowledge-share across huge geography, many ranches and many people speaking different languages is going to be a game changer.”
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