Sappi transforms connectivity with Syrex

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.

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Syrex golf day gives back for community development

Syrex, a leading provider of virtualised and hybrid network infrastructures and solutions, hosted its 12th annual golf day at Bryanston Country Club on Friday, 4 October. The 2019 Syrex Corporate Invitational was fully booked with fourballs and saw the organisation raise a substantial amount for Joint Aid Management (JAM) South Africa, a humanitarian, relief, and development organisation.

“This has been one of our best days yet. The conditions were perfect, great golf was played, and we received positive feedback from everyone involved and who participated. More significantly, the Invitational raised much-needed funds for JAM, an organisation that provides programmes to children who need support, and communities that need help,” says Ralph Berndt, Director of Sales at Syrex.

These programmes encompass nutritional school feeding, agricultural development, water sanitation and health, care for vulnerable children, and school makeovers. JAM currently operates in Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

“We would also like to thank all our sponsors for helping contribute to the success of this great day that has become a highlight of our corporate calendar.”

Albatross sponsors:

  • Bitco
  • Westcon
  • Liquid
  • Kliq
  • Teraco
  • Labournet

Eagle sponsors:

  • Redstor
  • Mimecast

Birdie sponsors

  • MTN
  • Futurum Financial Group
  • Mobile Merchant
  • The Bryanston Country Club
  • Abes Technoseal
  • Bandag
  • Air Products
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Syrex puts Mandela’s legacy into action with monthly CSI initiatives

Aside from adding value to the networks of progressive business clients, the company is adamant that technology, expertise, education and resources can be used for the greater good of communities – especially those that are from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The company’s Social and Ethics Committee decided to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela on a more regular basis.  The company now selects one charity or not-for-profit organisation affiliated to a cause that employees feel the need to support, be it education, animal welfare, the elderly or desolate and people in need.

In July Syrex partnered with the SAME Foundation and other businesses to spread a bit of joy to learners from Blair Atholl Primary and host a day full of fun and activities.

In August the company directed efforts towards the Friends of Rescued Animals (FORA), a shelter based in Krugersdorp (Mogale City), Gauteng.

The shelter was established to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals, including cats, dogs and a few pigs. It does not have a vet on-site, so all sick and/or injured animals need to be taken to a vet for proper medical care. The facility is an astounding set up, where it is apparent that all the funds are channelled to the animals placed there. Their environment ensures they live in larger areas with companions so that quality of life is maintained from all.

The staff at FORA see the worst cases of abuse and neglect and through continual care, love and behavioural work, these animals are given a second chance.

Approximately 20 members of Syrex staff with their families went to the shelter to spend time with the animals and deliver goods donated by the company, which goes a long way to maintaining a quality of life that is acceptable. Our team were privileged to be able to work with the animals that are still learning to trust humanity, as a whole. The whole morning was a very humbling and rewarding experience

In September the company will support the Santa’s Shoebox Project, an annual initiative organised to collect and distribute personalised gifts of essential items and treats for underprivileged children across South Africa and Namibia.

Syrex encourages other companies to get involved and reminds corporate South Africa and Namibia that pledging for the Project is already open.

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Opportunities abound in SA cloud market

Ralph Berndt

The recent launch of multinational data centres in the country and the pipeline of new ones arriving in the next few years will fundamentally change the cloud market in South Africa. Ralph Berndt, sales and marketing director at Syrex, believes organisations who have been previously undecided about the cloud, have now woken up to its potential.

“Even though the pressure to migrate [to the cloud] has been significant when looking at the competitive environment, traditionalists have been holding off to make the shift for a number of reasons. Considerations around compliance and security in addition to the speed of access were concerns. However, these have now been addressed thanks to local Azure access being available,” he says.

More recently, the availability of Office 365 on South African data centres has given further impetus for a move towards an online environment. Companies are now looking at migrating their applications, services, and security to a more operational solution in the cloud as opposed to investing in on-premise offerings.

“While there will always be those organisations who will have elements of on-premise solutions in place, hybrid environments will become more commonplace. These provide the best of both worlds and still give the peace of mind needed for those decision-makers who want to maintain their perceived control over their data. However, with the cyber threat landscape rapidly evolving, the investment needed to effectively protect on-premise data will become unaffordable to many,” says Berndt.

The past few months have seen several companies testing the waters when it comes to the cloud by migrating things such as email, enterprise resource planning applications, customer relationship management applications, as well as file sharing. This provides a good way to experience the benefits of the cloud first-hand while still leaving some mission-critical systems in an on-premise environment.

“Once the performance and efficiency benefits are realised, then discussions turn to moving more strategic systems to the cloud. However, it must be remembered that despite the availability, security, and cost benefits in going the online route, data still needs to travel from the company to the data centres. This is where a shared responsibility approach becomes crucial.”

This entails an organisation taking responsibility for the security of its data while in an on-premise setup as well as in getting it to the data centre. Yes, the service provider can manage all aspects around security when the data is there, but it has very little influence in safeguarding it on the journey unless this has been scoped and designed correctly.

“Cyber security solutions that cater for both the on-premise and online environments are becoming increasingly important and relevant in this digitally-driven market. With data protection being a fundamental aspect of all businesses these days, organisations must have the assurances that this most valuable asset and intellectual property is kept safe.”

He feels that local data centres have now provided the spark necessary to drive a cloud-first approach from both security and data availability perspectives.

“Customers have been looking towards cloud solutions that have historically been beyond reach due to latency and distance. With Azure being localised, there is now more of a drive to build applications into a platform-as-a-service environment on hyper-scale. This will extend to security and protecting data as well as maintaining reliable access to that data. These are exciting times for the cloud market in all of Africa and all organisations would do well to embrace this opportunity,” he concludes.

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Mandela Day

Syrex supports Blair Atholl Primary Farm School for Mandela Day

Syrex has partnered with the SAME Foundation to help the Blair Atholl Primary Farm School in Lanseria.

Each year the SAME Foundation selects one of its beneficiaries as the recipient of the Mandela Day initiative. On 18 July, it was the turn of Blair Atholl Primary to benefit from a day full of fun and activities.

Ten employees from the company participated in the event and together with the SAME Foundation and other companies, painted the entire school in just one day! Catherine Bateman, HR Manager at Syrex, was delighted at the turnout and the success of the initiative she and her fellow committee members spearheaded on behalf the company.

The kids were treated to a fun day while the hard work was going on … they had jumping castles, egg races and soccer matches to enjoy.

Shai Conco, Technical Manager: Security and Bateman said the Mandela Day initiative is an important part of the company’s CSI program and the company attaches a great deal of value to its contribution towards community development.

“We are very proud of our participation, specifically in helping academic institutions sustain their service to communities. Infrastructure is critical if our children are to learn and equip themselves with the knowledge they need to make it in the markets of the future.” Bateman and Conco share the view that education is critical to the development of South Africa’s youth and believes wholeheartedly in the principle that Mandela stood for, being a strong advocate for human rights, civil liberty and the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’.

“We are proud to be associated with this very important initiative, with Mandela Day and specifically our contribution to the welfare of this school – which serves a growing population, many of whom struggle on a daily basis to make sure their needs are met. We are busy investigating further ventures for this school, as the work needs to carry on so these wonderful children are given all the opportunities to be the success in life, they deserve to be. Syrex is about empowerment, innovation, passion and dedication and this speak to the heart of those values.”

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Getting to grips with cloud security and data migration to the cloud

Syrex, in conjunction with its partners Redstor, Mimecast, Microsoft and Check Point, will be hosting an exclusive panel discussion examining the security, compliance, and technical aspects surrounding the migration of data to the cloud on the 19th of July at the Bryanston Country Club.

“Thanks to the arrival of hyper-scale cloud providers in South Africa, the journey of data into the cloud has become a business-critical topic of discussion. Given the dynamic regulatory environment surrounding the protection of data as well as the technical and security challenges in the digital world, decision-makers must stay abreast of all the latest trends and developments in this area,” says Ralph Berndt, Sales Director at Syrex.

To this end, the panel will discuss some of the more pertinent areas around how to manage data in a cloud environment. The panel consists of Andre Voges, Country Manager for South Africa at Check Point Software; Shaun Searle, Country Manager for African Regions at Redstor; Mikey Molfessis, Sales Engineer at Mimecast; and David Herselman, Managing Director at Syrex.

“It is expected that by 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the fault of the customer and not the service provider. While cloud providers offer significantly more advanced security than what most companies can afford to have on-premise, the data still needs to migrate into that environment. This puts the responsibility on the organisation to ensure that it is migrated and managed as securely as possible,” says Berndt.

Given how an estimated 21% of files in the cloud contain sensitive data such as financial records and business plans, companies must be more responsible in how the information is saved. Using open connections and relying on anti-virus and firewalls as the only security measure can no longer be considered good enough.

“Our panellists will highlight how comprehensive, a cyber security approach must be, in an always connected business environment. Considering the financial and reputational repercussions for having data compromised, they have no choice but to embrace a more secure outlook when it comes to their data being migrated to the cloud,” concludes Berndt.

Syrex’s partners Westcon and Teraco, who are also sponsors of the event, will be on-hand to provide further practical insights on Microsoft Azure licensing and Private Cloud hosting in the South African market.

For more information or to reserve your seat, please visit

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Changing the SA data management, cloud backup, and recovery landscape

Even though the Syrex and Redstor partnership was formalised last year, the journey towards it began more than two decades ago. Part of this can be attributed to how technology has shifted towards off-premise environments and the importance of safeguarding the data residing there.

“Over the past 23 years, Syrex has tried numerous technologies that cover the gamut of backup and security. As the business world started embracing off-site solutions, the on-premise environment has become less of a priority. However, Syrex never found an offering that ticked all the backup, business continuity, recovery, and security boxes required for this online environment. Fortunately, Redstor was able to deliver on all our requirements,” says Ralph Berndt, Director of Sales at Syrex.

Berndt believes that in the bandwidth-sensitive African market, finding a partner that could meet all the data management needs of businesses, including cloud backup and security, using incremental features, as well as instant recovery has always been a priority. Being able to dynamically adapt to the speed of the connectivity of an organisation is a competitive advantage in this challenging economic environment.

“The Redstor approach delivers on this promise while incorporating sophisticated security features such as ransomware protection. With its InstantData functionality, Redstor is also the industry leader in terms of recovery capabilities whereas their competitors inevitably suffer from some backup and restore failures.”

He says Redstor is not only very effective, but also offers an instant recovery solution that delivers on the always-on expectations of the connected business.

“The partnership between Syrex and Redstor delivers good value for the unique needs of the South African market. Syrex can deliver a fully virtualised environment for any business at its local data centre. This solution fits perfectly into ‘Disaster Recovery Planning’ which most organisations are currently investigating. It allows for full off premises resilience and the ability to recover, backed up, virtual servers seamlessly into the Syrex private virtual platform or the Microsoft Azure public platform as a service. And then there is the archiving solution offering redundancy at two different locations to consider as well.”

But beyond the innovative technology, the partnership is about the commercial aspects of data recovery and business continuity as well.

“Being able to deliver an integrated offering in the cloud to companies of all sizes are instrumental to the success of this partnership. We are working closely with Redstor to continually refine and innovate so our customers get solutions catering for their specific needs. It is all about relationships and designing solutions that fit easily into a business.”

And in such a cost-sensitive market as South Africa, the relationship-driven, bespoke approach is one that attracts interest from organisations across industry sectors.

For more information, click here 

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