At Yare Valley Farm in Surlingham, Norfolk, a series of technological challenges were impeding operational efficiency. This case study explores how these issues were systematically addressed and resolved, leading to a significant upgrade in the farm's IT infrastructure.
The farm’s network and technology infrastructure had grown organically over many years, leading to a disjointed and inefficient system. Key issues included inconsistent internet access, an unstructured network with a rogue DHCP server causing IP conflicts, and a mix of WiFi devices from different vendors without a common standard. Furthermore, the farm was relying on an extremely outdated PC, hampered by a slow mechanical hard drive and obsolete Microsoft software. Compounding these issues was the use of a very old Microsoft Access Database, now incompatible with modern software versions.
This patchwork system, created and expanded over time by various individuals, lacked any coherent documentation or understanding of its configuration.
The approach to revamping Yare Valley Farm’s IT infrastructure was multifaceted. The first step was a complete overhaul of the WiFi network. By replacing all access points with Ubiquiti Unifi hardware, a consistent and reliable network was established, with a common SSID enhancing connectivity across the farm.
This change also resolved the rogue DHCP issue, traced back to a TP-Link range extender.
To address the hardware inadequacies, the farm’s decade-old PC was replaced with a modern Windows 11 Pro device, boasting a speedy SSD. This upgrade significantly improved performance, ensuring efficient handling of day-to-day tasks.
The migration phase was crucial. All essential files and software were seamlessly transferred to the new PC, ensuring business continuity. Additionally, the legacy Microsoft Access Database underwent a critical transformation. One of our Senior Engineers with experience in Microsoft Access reformatted the database, making it compatible with the latest software versions.
Finally, transitioning to Microsoft 365 marked the last phase of the upgrade. This move not only brought the farm’s software up to date but also introduced a suite of tools that enhanced collaboration and productivity. Security is an important factor too, as outdated software can introduce significant vulnerabilities.
Recognizing the importance of documentation, a comprehensive record of the new network setup was created. This documentation serves as a vital resource for future troubleshooting and expansion.
The transformation at Yare Valley Farm was profound. The technological upgrades not only resolved the immediate operational issues but also set a foundation for future growth and efficiency.
The new, streamlined IT infrastructure, characterised by a robust network, modern hardware, and updated software systems, has positioned Yare Valley Farm to meet the challenges of modern agriculture.
This case study underscores the importance of periodically reassessing and updating technological resources to maintain operational effectiveness in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.