Based in Belgium, N.V. Bekaert S.A. is a global company with 28,000 employees across 45 countries. A global market and technology leader, the company specializes in material science of steel wire transformation and coating technologies. Bekaerts products, which are manufactured in over 60 facilities worldwide, are used in everything from fences, to tires, to clothing and paper clips.
Reporting to Bekeart's CIO, Koen Vereeken, Global IT Lead of Technology Infrastructure, runs a team of roughly 70 people located all over the world. Additionally, the team works closely with multiple outsourcing partners. "We are responsible for reliability and performance of our infrastructure and workplace," he said. "The company's networking, cloud infrastructure data centers, digital workplaces, and shop floor productivity are all under our purview."
Given the vast and distributed nature of Bekeart's infrastructure and the complexity of operations, cybersecurity is a key focus for Vereeken's team. Compliance with industry regulations and the COBIT framework is also essential. To that end, in September 2022, Vereeken decided to look for an IT discovery solution that would help strengthen IT governance and enable a more mature approach to technology asset management.
Other Asset Discovery Tools Fell Short
Despite partners' recommendations for numerous asset management tools from Adobe, Microsoft and Flexera, Vereeken was not impressed. "They were very strong in software license management, but they focused on the assets that would contribute to licenses, not the entire IT estate," he said. "I wanted to take a step back and establish a stronger foundation with a tool that would discover 100% of our assets - all of the endpoints, servers, smartphones, cloud assets, everything."
Vereeken said strong integration capabilities were also a must. "I wanted to be able to integrate the discovery tool with our software asset management tool, ticketing system and other business-critical systems, so they could all benefit from consistent, accurate data," he said.
With those requirements in mind, Vereeken and his team evaluated available solutions on the market. That's how they discovered Lansweeper. "Lansweeper met all of our requirements, and I was pleased to see the company was based in Belgium, as well," he said. "I just called the number from the website and started a trial. It was quite easy."
In October, he decided to implement the solution across all of Bekeart's regions. "We came to an agreement quickly, and the onboarding process was a smooth and positive experience," he said.
Deployment and Integrations Were Easy
Today, Vereeken uses Lansweeper to scan and inventory over 43,000 assets globally. Lansweeper Agent is installed on-premises in each of the company's main regions: EMEA, APAC and the Americas. The regional discovery servers synchronize to a central Lansweeper instance in the cloud. From the Lansweeper Cloud, Vereeken's team uses APIs to synchronize the data to their ticketing system, Microsoft's Power platform, and other applications.
Vereeken had Lansweeper up and running across all sites in just a few days. "The integration only took a few days for us, as well, because the connectors are already there," he said. "Lansweeper uses a very modern REST API and connectors for tons of applications. Anyone - even a non-technical person without deep knowledge of asset management tools - can complete the integrations. We didn't need to spend money on an integration partner; we just did it ourselves."
For Vereeken, features that stand out include Lansweeper's Vulnerability Insights and the ability to discover remote devices outside the four walls of the organization. "It's pretty amazing how Lansweeper discovers remote assets and correlates that information across multiple sources, such as our SCCM and Active Directory," he said. Importantly, Lansweeper provides complete visibility and control over the entire IT estate. "As soon as a device joins the network, we can locate it immediately and access granular information about the type of device, the operating system, how it's configured, dependencies and more. We can consolidate the data and ensure there are no duplicate records, as well."
A Focus on Cybersecurity
Lansweeper is instrumental in Bekeart's efforts to bolster cybersecurity and combat increasing instances of ransomware, social engineering, and phishing attacks that are rampant in manufacturing. "It's important to strengthen our cybersecurity, and that involves looking at our primary controls," Vereeken said, adding that his team leverages Lanswseeper's Security Insights report to stay abreast of the latest vulnerabilities discovered on Bekeart's assets. "We have to patch our systems regularly to be sure we're not exposed to any vulnerabilities in our infrastructure, because most of the hacking attempts are zero-day exploits. We have plants that operate 24X7, so when a system goes down, it can have a major impact."
Prior to using Lansweeper, teams at the regional locations had to maintain asset registers using their own methods, mostly manual. "People were using Excel and open source tools, but getting that information was a manual process," Vereeken said. The consequence of tracking assets manual is that our lifecycle process is not covering 100% of the assets, for example, we could not rule out that all of our employees would receive a new laptop within 4-5 years.
"Shadow IT not only puts the organization at risk, it also impacts employee productivity," he said. "With Lansweeper, we can identify outdated assets in minutes and take action faster."
- Koen Vereeken, Global IT of Technology Infrastructure
Vereeken said that aligning maintenance with scheduled downtime isn't always possible. "To protect the infrastructure, it's critical to remove all the weak points, which requires an asset discovery system that detects and inventories everything," he said. "We need to be able to trust that our data model that's 100% consistent and complete, and that's what Lansweeeper gives us."
1,500 Vulnerable Laptops Replaced
Vereeken's team was able to achieve dramatic cost reductions by pulling the reports on software installations with Lansweeper and eliminating any unneeded or expired licenses. They also leverage the data to prioritize laptop replacements based on purchase date or warranty expiration, to ensure employees have access to secure and up to date laptops. This helps to optimize IT spend while improving employee productivity and satisfaction.
"Based on Lansweeper data, we were able to proactively replace 1,500 laptops that were outdated, vulnerable or not compatible with future Windows releases, and comply with our 5-year lifecycle policy," Vereeken said. "Being able to generate a report showing all of the outdated devices in just a few minutes saved us at least 25 days of manual labor across all of our locations, while improving employees' productivity and user experience with better asset lifecycle management."
According to Vereeken, Lansweeper also enables his team to simplify audits and ensure compliance with regulations with a complete and always accurate record of all of the IT assets in the organization. And, the solution is so intuitive that Vereeken hasn't needed to leverage Lansweeper support more than a couple of times, despite access to increased support SLAs and live calls as part of the Enterprise plan. In the coming months, Vereeken will be investigating the potential of Lansweeper for managing operational technology at Bekeart's manufacturing facilities, and leveraging Lansweeper's asset and network topology diagrams for a more visual approach to IT asset management.