Established in the 1920s, AMS Baeshen & Co has been trading in a wide range of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) that include tea (Rabea Tea, Abu Jabal and Lord), sugar (Bee Sugar) as well as beverages and detergents. Well known in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for its locally produced Rabea Tea product, AMS Baeshen also has several multi-national brands. And it is this diverse and innovative product line-up that set the company apart from its competitors. Recently, AMS Baeshen & Co established one of the largest state-of-the-art factories in the Middle East with fully integrated operations covering tea buying, tasting, blending, packing, distribution, and selling. A foray into retail followed with the setting up of Teayana, a tea lounge and shop, then into the beverages market with the launch of Moodz – a carbonated soft drink.
The company embarked upon several major investment and expansion programs in the course of the years, starting from its head quarter in Jeddah and growing to 15 branch offices across the region. This strategic growth resulted in AMS Baeshen being reckoned as a major force within the Saudi Arabian food and drink market, principally the tea sector. The now regionally well established company's work-force comprises 500 employees and 200 computer users with 130 desktops and 100 laptops.
In order to stay ahead of competition and support its growth, AMS Baeshen continually invested in technology. The company's ability to adapt and diversify so successfully was borne from consistently investing in the future, with a special focus on technology and development. A high-end technology system was deployed across the company's network of branch offices that connected all through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to the headquarters in Jeddah.
Rex Raymundo, IT Operations Manager at AMS Baeshen & Co, was keen to keep up to date with the latest technology in order to guarantee a smoothly functioning technology service; thereby ensuring uninterrupted business operations. With his previous security product, he had a consistent problem with vicious malware attacks, especially from branch offices. This resulted in downtime and reduced bandwidth, which in turn meant lower productivity and profitability. It also hindered the supply chain management processes with the company's main warehouse and logistics teams.
"We were plagued with rampant virus attacks that bypassed our intrusion prevention system (IPS) and gained unhindered access to our virtual private network (VPN) that connected our branch offices to the head office in Jeddah. We decided to move to WatchGuard's unified threat management (UTM) solution platform which would replace our existing Cisco adaptive security appliances (ASA). We needed a device that could address security issues in a unified, easy to control and manage environment including a firewall and VPN with very fast throughput."
Raymundo's challenge was to source the right partner and solution to best meet his technical demands and high expectations in terms of deployment schedules. After a few weeks of meetings and presentations, he decided to go with Al Fuzail Co, a subsidiary of the National Technology Group, one of the leading IT Infrastructure Solutions Providers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and WatchGuard reseller. WAl Fuzail proposed the complete suite of WatchGuard Extensible Threat Management (XTM) Network Security Appliances. "We were offered a trial period demonstrating a proof of concept to be applied over 15 days to evaluate the WatchGuard solution," said Raymundo.
Sold on the solution and its effectiveness throughout the trial, Raymundo decided to deploy the WatchGuard system for AMS Baeshen. It was decided that the head office would be equipped with the WatchGuard 750e XTM firewall and software suite; the warehouse, which handles the supply chain inventory, would rely on with the WatchGuard 550e XTM firewall and software suite; and finally, the branches were set up with WatchGuard 10e/20e/55e firewalls and software suites. The deployment was started in January 2010 at the head office took three months to complete, with the system going live across 9 of the 15 regional branches in March 2010.
The XTM series deployed at AMS Baeshen runs the latest release of WatchGuard's XTM Operating System (OS), with greater levels of security, efficiency, performance, and reliability. The XTM capabilities ensured the company's network had the protection, speed, and agility it needed to enhance business critical operations. "The solution was very easy to configure. Previously, the firewall would stall and would have to be rebooted completely. With WatchGuard, the one feature that stood out was the single click operation for any configuration," said Raymundo.
The number one benefit that AMS Baeshen has experienced from the WatchGuard solution is the increased network stability and security, from both external and internal threats. The main concern for the company was a strong antivirus solution in order to shield rampant virus attacks and boost bandwidth performance – the WatchGuard solution provided a one-stop solution to all.
The WatchGuard XTM firewall solution provided complete inbound and outbound HTTPS inspection; call setup security for VoIP means a company does not have to "wire around the firewall" to take advantage of the big cost savings VoIP can generate; and finally, multi-box management that allows updates to be pushed to multiple devices at one time to save time and align security policies across the organization.
As AMS Baeshen employees would occasionally work from home, an external connection to the network through a VPN connection was a further requirement. The WatchGuard XTM solution provides VPN protection as well as an easy-to-use user interface and comprehensive reporting features, which allow the IT department to view network usage at the user and user group level. "The reporting tool for the solution is outstanding. This has ensured our network is stable," Raymundo stated.
The company selected WatchGuard based on the in-depth product information and service trial offered by Al Fuzail as the major selling point. "Previously we had to spend a lot of time identifying the threats and on many occasions would not be able to resolve issues; this was not the case with the smooth deployment and functioning of the solution across our network implemented by Al Fuzail. Their professionalism coupled with a strong and effective product went a long way in our relationship," concluded Raymundo.
For more information on WatchGuard network security solutions, visit www.watchguard.com.
The solution was very easy to configure. Previously, the firewall would stall and would have to be rebooted completely. With WatchGuard, the one feature that stood out was the single click operation for any configuration.
Rex Raymundo, IT Operations Manager
AMS Baeshen & Co