JJ Taylor Keeps the Beer Flowing with Infoblox
Headquartered in Jupiter, Florida, J.J. Taylor Companies, Inc. is one of the largest Miller beer distributors in the United States. The company has an expansive portfolio of more than 500 beers that it distributes from five distribution centers. Over 900 employees help to deliver, sell and merchandise beer for J.J. Taylor’s brewer partners. The infrastructure for moving beer from distribution to customers involves many moving pieces and increasingly depends on reliable, resilient network connectivity.
Jose Soto, Computer Network Team Lead, joined J.J. Taylor Companies in 2015 after serving in the U.S. Army as a network technician. His military training has helped to inform a security mindset that serves as a foundation for network management and operations.
The Challenge – Improving Network Visibility
The company needed to solve several key network, visibility and security challenges. Partners and guests often visit its facilities and use the network while onsite, which presented visibility and control challenges. In fact, visibility and network management overall were issues because J.J. Taylor was largely using Microsoft Windows servers and had a difficult time scaling DNS, DHCP and IP address management services.
With only 15 people on the company’s IT networking team, each team member is a jack of all trades. As such, it was imperative for J.J. Taylor to adopt a system that enables them to do more with less, with an easy-to-use approach. “My security training came from the military and they used to tell us visibility is key,” Soto said. “You can’t be secure if you don’t know what’s going on in your network.”
Customer: J.J. Taylor Companies, Inc.
Industry: Beer Distribution
Location: Juniper, Florida
Initiative: Invest in a more effective cybersecurity strategy, Improve network visibility and reliability, Replace legacy Microsoft environment
Outcomes: Strengthened security posture, Minimized network downtime, Improved network responsiveness, Enabled visibility into all usage patterns
The Solution – Infoblox Core DDI & Grid Technology
The need to improve security was accelerated by a cyberattack. Before engaging with Infoblox, the distributor was hit by a crypto virus. While the company was able to recover without losing data, the incident raised awareness that it was critical to invest more in security.
To help support its security and networking efforts, the company acquired and deployed the subscription-based Grid from Infoblox, which also helps simplify network management. With Grid technology, J.J. Taylor is able to easily scale and manage DNS, DHCP and IP address management. The Infoblox deployment also provides visibility across the entire network, making it easier for the limited IT staff to effectively manage and secure resources.
“Infoblox provides visibility into network activity and that helps us a lot,” Soto said. “More than ever before, visibility into network activity and devices is key to maintaining a strong security posture.”
Limiting Operational Risk & Keeping the Beer Trucks Rolling
Having visibility into network operations isn’t a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity for Soto and his team. The Infoblox solution enables the company to manage all devices on the network to help limit operational risks.
In talking about operational risks, Soto noted that his accounting team told him that there is a dire financial cost to any sort of operational disruption. The company could lose millions if for some reason operations are halted for even an hour.
“If we can’t put beer on trucks, those orders don’t go out and revenue screeches to a halt,” Soto said. “It’s extremely important that beer makes it onto the delivery trucks and that our production flow is never interrupted by network downtime. Just a few hours offline would incur a great deal of financial loss for the company. Anything else can stop, but the beer must get on the trucks.”
Supporting Regulatory Compliance Efforts
As a business that deals with alcohol, the company is subject to more stringent compliance requirements than would a distributor of, for example, soft drinks. With Infoblox Grid, data about the network, users and access is all in one place, making it easier for auditors who routinely visit company headquarters to access systems and files.
With Infoblox, Soto also noted that he’s able to secure the network for the auditors, as well as making the network safe from them. He explained that the auditors need access to the core network.
“When auditors come in, Infoblox ensures that they are fully empowered to do their essential work,” Soto said. “At the same time, if a device infected with a Trojan or malware comes onto the corporate network, Infoblox fully protects our infrastructure from harm.”
Protecting the Network for (and from) Guest Access
The risk of a rogue device coming in from an auditor or a guest is not a hypothetical situation. According to Soto, several times in the past a vendor brought a device with malware into the company’s environment. In at least one case, there was a Trojan infection on the vendor’s device and the team didn’t know about it until it hit the firewall trying to leave to the facility.
“We host a lot of events at our headquarters office—beer tastings, meetings with retail distribution partners—sometimes we rent out our warehouse after hours,” explained Soto. “We set up guest networks to accommodate and secure that traffic. But when dozens of laptops and phones come out, it’s almost inevitable that at least one of them ends up on the corporate network. Infoblox allows us to monitor new devices as they come onto the network, inspect them to make sure they don’t represent a threat and then track them to help mitigate any potential risks,” he said.
The Results – Improved Ease of Management
Given its small IT team, it’s imperative for J.J. Taylor to have an easy-to-use system that any member of the team can operate. With Infoblox, a system of record provides the necessary visibility to help IT staff rapidly identify and respond to issues on the network.
“We’re trying to get a full picture of what our traffic looks like because we have no night shift,” Soto said. “We are a 9-to-5 shop for IT with a small help desk that’s on call 24 hours. So, if I get a phone call at 2:00 in the morning for an incident and I have to start working on an issue—just having visibility into things that can help keep track of what’s going on in our infrastructure, that for me is very beneficial.”
Delivering Value with Predictable Cost
By embracing the Infoblox Grid subscription model, J.J. Taylor has been able to recognize financial and operational benefits not possible with its legacy approach. Soto explained that with an Infoblox subscription, he has a budget item that remains constant.
He also noted that cost was one of the reasons why he switched to Infoblox. Too many devices showing up randomly on the network led to unforeseen costs. “With Infoblox we avoid surprises—we have a predictable budget,” Soto said.
A Superior Customer Experience with Infoblox
J.J. Taylor Companies considered competing vendors that could help solve its challenges and conducted a thorough evaluation. Ultimately, Soto noted that picking Infoblox was an easy choice due to its technical merits and excellent customer service team. He described the experience of working with Infoblox as being seamless for procurement and deployment.
“This is just the beginning of our relationship with Infoblox, and we’re hoping that we can remain a customer for a long time,” Soto said.