Horta chose Combell as its hosting partner: “A big hit!”

The name Horta is synonymous with expertise in the field of garden and pet products. In order to offer you a first-class shopping experience, the garden and pet specialist set up a state-of-the-art IT environment. And that is why Horta decided to collaborate with Combell!

Horta is a buying group consisting of independent shops that specialise in garden and pet products. There are currently more than 50 Horta shops offering professional advice tailored to their customers every day.

In order to be able to provide this expertise in the best possible way, Horta opted for Navision, an ERP solution that covers all aspects of administration, from invoicing to stock management.

To ensure that everything runs like clockwork with this package, Horta turned to Combell. And we recently had the pleasure of spending some time with IT manager Bram, to talk about his experiences with Combell as a partner.

Hello Bram! How did you end up at Combell?

Bram from Horta: "In order to support our shops more effectively, we chose an ERP package that is managed entirely from our head office. But we obviously needed a reliable hosting partner in order for everything to run smoothly."

"For our website, we were already working hand in hand with Combell. So, the step to your private cloud was an obvious one."

"Horta is based on a philosophy of advice, knowledge and quality, both in terms of products and service. We were looking for the same philosophy from our hosting partner, which is how we ended up at Combell."

Discover Horta's experiences with Combell in the report aired on Kanaal Z below! (read more below the video)

What does your architecture look like in general?

Bram: "Our entire architecture is built to keep our ERP solution, Navision, running. This is only logical, because if our ERP system stops working, all our shops will be brought to a standstill, as the system covers our front office, which includes the scanning of products and the operation of the cash registers, as well as our back office, which includes order, customer and stock management."

"That is why we have a private cloud that consists of more than 20 servers. And to ensure a reliable connection with that cloud, we use an MPLS connection."

"But in the unlikely event that we experience connectivity issues, we can always fall back on the on-premise 'SOS servers' in our shops. These servers make a number of basic functions possible, so that products can still be sold. Services like invoicing or accounting, however, are no longer available."

"Those three components – live environment, private cloud and SOS server – must be continuously synchronised with each other. That is a really challenging thing to do (laughs)."

Performance, monitoring, stability AND people skills

How does Combell assist you with your infrastructure?

Bram: "Our ERP solution, Navision, is a Microsoft software package. So, our first choice was to work with Microsoft Azure as our cloud partner. But Combell proved to be a better option, with stability and performance as key assets."

"Even before we actually entered into a contract with Combell, we were already able to test the performance of our system on your infrastructure using a test environment. The results were quite impressive: we immediately noticed an increase in speed."

"Your monitoring tool is also invaluable. Problem analysis invariably begins with the use of this tool. It gives us a clear picture of how our servers are running and their capacity, and we immediately know whether or not the problem lies with those servers."

"But, in addition to your robust infrastructure and monitoring, we also appreciate your people-oriented approach very much. The way you handled our project is truly impressive. Your project management, from practical consultancy to relevant meetings, is highly streamlined."

"And even after the project was set up, we continued to have good contact: I can say with my hand on my heart that the support provided by Combell is second to none."

When we call you, we do not have to wait for 15 minutes to get to talk to someone. That is not the case everywhere (laughs).

Bram Carion, IT manager at Horta

"When we contact you, we do not have to wait for 15 minutes to get someone on the phone. That is not the case everywhere (laughs)."

"What is more, I know that when I call our account manager Siegfried, he will call me back in no time. With other partners, things tend to change – for the worse – after the contract has been signed and the wheels have been set in motion, but not with you."

We can imagine that Horta also wants to be 100% sure that everything keeps running smoothly…

Bram: "True! And that is why we opted for an SLA on your recommendation. Before that, we went to see what the minimum requirements were for our project."

"24/7 support and guaranteed troubleshooting within the next half hour is of course essential for our production environment."

Horta offices

Second opinion

Bram: "With our previous hosting provider, we had full control over our server. That means more freedom, but also more concerns, because we are not server administrators.

"Still, we then had to take care of all the configuration of our servers, including that of the firewalls. At Combell, you guys take care of that for us."

"That provides a highly valuable 'second opinion'. If someone were to ask something that could threaten the operation or safety of our system, you would provide the necessary advice and escalate where necessary."

"With your expertise, you make sure that our entire environment remains up and running. This way, we can focus on our core business, and we do not have to worry so much about our server environment: we know that Combell will do this for us!"

What has surprised you the most during your interactions with Combell?

Bram: "What was perhaps most surprising was that in the run-up to the project, you really helped us anticipate what our own needs were."

"At a certain point, I sketched out for Combell what was already in place for the project. Then you started contributing ideas and provided a new perspective, which helped come up with better ideas."

"The recommendations you made were based on your experience, not on sales figures. So you did not try to sell us as much as possible, but rather made us buy exactly what we needed."

"Certain options we had with our previous hosting partner turned out to be completely superfluous: you, on the other hand, advised us to start as low as possible, and then scale up when necessary."

What are the plans for the future at Horta?

Bram: "When our ERP package will be implemented in all shops, which is quite a feat, we will focus on centralising all our back-office infrastructure. Combell's ability to scale up or down is important for this as well."

"In addition, we also plan to further develop our web store, which is another project for which we are counting on you."

"It is always a bit tricky to find the right software, the right partner, and the right way of working, but once everything is sorted out, you can really focus on optimisation. And that is something we can perfectly achieve with Combell."

"Because our collaboration with Combell is a big hit. It is absolutely fantastic, both in terms of preparation and processing. Right in the bull's-eye!"

Combell's Managed Services

Combell helps small, medium-sized and large companies with a first-rate infrastructure AND flawless service.

Whether you are looking for a cloud solution or want to ensure your connectivity needs are met or go for a Business Continuity Plan, Combell will provide you with a solution tailored to your company's needs.

Do you have a project of your own? Feel free to ask us for advice!