Vintage wines, not vintage servers for Southern Estate Wines

In the mid-1980’s the Dal Broi family was the largest rice grower in Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. When the drought hit in the early 2000’s, the rice industry endured a large downturn. Conversely, the wine industry was seeing a boom. The enterprising family was able to adapt and began planting vineyards and make the move into the wine industry.

In 2009 Andrew Dal Broi left the family business and embarked on a new journey to identify an opportunity to market wine direct to the consumer, cutting the middle man out.


In December 2014 Melbourne’s Dal Broi Group embarked on an expansion of their business by purchasing a winery in Griffith, Southern Estate Wines capable of producing 20 million litres of wine.

In 2015, their wine company, Southern Estate Wines plans to produce 26 million litres of wine.

The Griffith winery employs 15 fulltime staff, which expands up to 35 staff during harvest including three fulltime winemakers. By any assessment, it’s a sizeable venture but, as part of the sale, the previous owners were planning on deleting all data and removing all the licenses for the I.T infrastructure that underpinned its operation.

The staff were all online, equipped with an email address and their own workstation and it was crucial that they maintain constant access to their data and history.

For Executive Director Andrew Dal Broi, the fear was that a lengthy migration process could seriously affect the running of the Winery. Adding to that fear was the knowledge that the Southern Estate Wines’ existing IT was starting to show its age, and unlike fine wine, IT rarely gets better over time.

With the knowledge of the edge that innovation gives organisations in highly competitive markets like wine-making, Southern Estate Wines enlisted Microsoft Partner, Traction IT, and the decision was made to migrate the company’s physical Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 infrastructure to a hybrid infrastructure designed to leverage two great enablers of productivity: the cloud and the National Broadband Network.

From the initial contact, Traction IT had migrated the winery in the space of a month and a half, allowing Andrew Dal Broi and his team to get back to what they do best, make some of Australia’s best wine.

“Unlike fine wine, IT rarely gets better over time”

A smooth migration

Given the intricacies of modern wine-making techniques, it was imperative that the winery remain operational from an IT perspective. With that in mind, after going off-line on a Sunday night Traction IT were able to migrate the entire winery by Monday morning.

Support remained on-site for three days to ensure peace of mind for the winemakers but by and large, the migration took place over a single morning.

Effectively, three physical servers were replaced with a new single physical server with Windows Server 2012R2 Hyper-V running four virtual hosts. On the virtual servers Traction was able to integrate Office 365 for Southern Estate Wines.

A delighted Andrew Dal Broi said: “I have been involved with many different IT migrations in many different capacities and this was certainly one of the most pain-free major projects of my career. In fact, more time was spent walking around the winery rounding up hardware than actually offline, performing the migration.”

Information anywhere, anytime

Southern Estate Wines’ head office is based in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn and uses Windows 2012 Essentials Server. Thanks to the migration, the company has been able to create a Domain Trust between the two networks, with a managed VPN so that it can access data between the two sites.

Andrew Dal Broi has seven children based across two states and given that it’s a five hour drive between Griffith and Melbourne, the VPN access now means Andrew and his staff are having to make that long journey far less frequently, giving them more time making wine and less time away from home. In fact Andrew can now limit his time spent at the actual facility to around 5 hours a day, meaning it’s more time spent at home with his family

The goal now is to increasingly utilise the cloud so that all employees can access information wherever they might be working. “Winemaking is very process driven, you have to record and have an audit trail for all your wines. We need to be able to access this from anywhere. Now, I could be in a sales meeting in Germany and be able to pull up any particular wine, and have all the analysis right in front of me. This simply wasn’t possible while we were operating on Windows Server 2003, said Andrew Dal Broi.

Furthermore, with summer temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius and above at the winery, the more data that can be hosted in the cloud and not in the semi-arid climate of Griffith the better!

Brett Mason, Director, Traction IT said: “The key objective for this migration initially was to maintain the status quo and to keep things undisrupted throughout the sale and update. However, the vision is to roll-out cloud-based collaboration technologies such as SharePoint and Lync. DBG wants to facilitate greater collaboration between the 15 permanent and additional casual staff, many of whom are mobile. So the benefits from moving from the outdated Windows Server 2003 physical server to a cloud-based infrastructure will continue to roll-on. When the time is right, cloud technologies will drive true business transformation at DBG.”

With a constant need for interaction between Griffith and head office and experts throughout the world, access to Office 365 via the cloud will streamline this process of collaboration and content sharing, making the overall business more efficient.

“When the time is right, cloud technologies will drive true business transformation at Southern Estate Wines.”


Readying for the NBN

One of the main aims of the upgrade, apart from ensuring a smooth transition for the retained staff at the Griffith winery, was to ensure that the site was ready to ‘hit the ground running’ the moment the National Broadband Network was switched on at Griffith.

With the migration complete and the NBN rolling out in Griffith, DBG is set to enter a new realm of possibilities with the cloud. It will begin by moving its existing applications into the cloud, with the lightning quick speeds of the NBN enabling reliable access to data from both its Griffith winery and Hawthorn head office. Once its existing applications are in the cloud it becomes a case of what’s next for the innovative company.

To sum up, Andrew Dal Broi commented: “The changes we’ve put in place have enabled us to access everything remotely, which has allowed us to scale up, future proof the business and scale at a moment’s notice without even thinking about the technology”

So let’s raise a glass to Southern Estate Wines, because with the cloud, the sky’s the limit.


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