1. Purpose of the position
The ICT Infrastructure Architect at VPK Group plays a central role in shaping and maintaining the organization's IT landscape. Reporting to the Operations Manager, he/she works closely with internal teams and an outsourced provider, ensuring seamless integration of Azure Cloud, VMWare and systems on the shop floor. Key tasks include designing new solutions, leading the outsourced provider and resolving issues. Challenges include ensuring predictability, transparency and future-proofing the infrastructure while aligning it with business needs. Their impact is significant: they support high availability, scalability and data management, which is critical to VPK's stability and growth. The position requires strong leadership, communication, Azure Cloud expertise and a hands-on approach to various technologies. Success in this position contributes directly to VPK's operational efficiency, making the architect a vital part of the company's future.
2.1 Collaboration with CapGemini and other partners
VPK Group has a network of key vendors & partners to implement changes. For two years the VPK ICT operations have been outsourced to Capgemini. The responsibilities of Capgemini are the Service Desk (L1,L2,L3) that is being run from Poland and India, as well as the SOC (Security Operations Center) and the Workplace. A key responsibility of the VPK ICT Architect Infrastructure will be to collaborate on a daily basis with the Capgemini Architects. As part of the transition to Capgemini the central Data Center has been moved to the Azure cloud. A limited set of services is also being sourced from a Proximus server room in Machelen.
Key suppliers for the Architect will be Capgemini and Proximus. Also HP and Cameo are key suppliers for the VPK Operations.
Quarterly there is a project portfolio meeting where the CIO is meeting with the division heads. During the meeting the rolling forecast (6 quarters ahead) is being discussed and the priorities are set. The individual projects are requested via CAPEX request. A Project Brief is being made and the needed resources internal or from external suppliers are being freed up.
2.2 The current architecture
The main datacenter is built in Azure. The production plants have local datacenters, mainly based on vmware to host shopfloor systems. The network to connect the different locations is based on MPLS but will gradually be upgraded onto SDWAN. The core of the network is located at a housing location where VPK Group has all different break-outs and uplinks bound together by a PaloAlto Cluster. On the Applications side the company is mainly an SAP and OMP environment. All the applications are presented to the user via a citrix cloud solution. Most of the end-user equipment is Thin Client based.
Besides the Azure Data Center VPK group has a few hundred virtual on-premise servers that are mainly running on outdated versions of vmware. Occasionally VPK Group will use HyperV as well.
Every two years VPK Group is being assessed by KPMG against the ISO 270002. As a result the road map for the next two years is being defined with security initiatives. The current main challenge ahead is network segregation. To address that challenge during the next two years the team will roll-out a palo alto solution in the local sites and factory. VPK Group has already some pilot sites live and also have the palo alto solution active for Vpk. Since ICT has moved the data center to the cloud the company has a cloud first strategy. For the shopfloor systems VPK Group is carefully evaluating with suppliers of the shopfloor systems what is the best solution going forward. The goal is not to renew on-premise hardware but move the local workload to our Azure Datacenter.
Scalability and security robustness are key. VPK Group has a highly available set up of the most critical applications and solutions. The VPK factories turn 24/5 or 24/7 and the ICT architecture has as a prime goal to support the business for the uptime of the solutions. ICT has monthly limited maintenance windows which they plan in accordance with the business.
2.3 Ongoing architecture initiatives and projects
Currently VPK Group is having the last part of the move to the cloud on our road map for the short term. Next the team will start with the older hardware replacement across the company. Also for upcoming acquisitions the support of the architect will be key. On the security architectural site, besides the segmentation projects also ICT is rolling out solutions for privileged access manager and Active directory management. Key in the near future will also be the hardening of the processes, governance and documentation with the outsource provider. VPK Group is early in the outsourcing journey and needs to take the next steps leading to stability and repeatability.
2.4 Importance and challenges an opportunities of the role
In the Manufacturing environment of VPK the architect is of key importance. It is vital that on the one hand the right architectural decisions are taken for optimal stability, uptime and scalability and on the other one can be a strong partner for the outsourced partner ensuring the interest of VPK are voiced and managed to solutions.
The VPK architecture is built around stability, scalability and security. The challenge of the VPK ICT Architect Infrastructure is to find the optimum between all the axes. As being a single architect the entire picture can be drawn by this person. The issue might occur in the fact that a lot of different business units and elements can play a role in making the perfect design. Something making an imperfect design but going forward is more important than getting the entire picture clear.
The opportunity in this role is setting the next standard for architecture, professionalization of the VPK IT Architecture and IT Strategies together with the VPK ICT Teams and the outsourced partner.
3. Tasks and responsibilities
Leadership: Lead and collaborate with outsourced provider, assist Change Advisory Board (40%)
Design: Develop new IT architecture solutions, focusing on Azure Cloud integration (25%)
Collaboration: Collaborate with the application team to develop architectural solutions for VPK application suite (25%). There is only 1 architect for the ICT infrastructure. The architect will report into the Operations & Business Relationships manager and collaborate with the security/Network Lead, the different application owners in the application team and the outsource service provider.
Support: Assist in resolving issues related to Level 3 changes (10%)
Vendor Management: Manage relationships with key vendors including Capgemini, Proximus, HP and Cameo.
Project Oversight: Oversee ongoing ICT infrastructure architecture initiatives, ensure alignment with organizational objectives
Security Implementation: Participate in the implementation of security solutions, including Palo Alto firewall, privileged access manager and Active Directory management.
Documentation and governance: Strengthen processes, improve governance and maintain comprehensive documentation in coordination with outsourced provider.
Legacy systems management: Address challenges related to remaining local infrastructure, strategize for modernization and migration
Implement cloud strategy: Drive the move of workplace systems to Azure, ensure optimal performance and alignment with cloud-first strategy.
4. Objectives for the first 12 months
3 Months – Understand the current architecture and challenges
6 Months – Have taken the leadership in the areas
12 months – Have the first project realized
Obviously, expectations about the speed at which the IT Infrastructure Architect settles in are related to the experience the Architect has already accumulated. Depending on experience, this process can obviously be faster, but the VPK environment is complex and international, including the cooperation with CapGemini.
The ICT Architect Infrastructure will report directly to the VPK ICT Operations & Business Relationships Manager.
Reason for the vacancy
During the transition to the outsourced partner VPK Group worked with an external architect. VPK Group is looking for an ICT Architect Infrastructure that will take the lead and develop architecture in the long run. There will be a transition period of coaching and collaboration with the current architect.