AWS Cloud Modernization to Scale Growth and Efficiency.

An Overview

The Challenge

Cargill needed to rebuild their AWS environment to scale IPs, streamline user processes, and modernize according to best practices.

The Solution

Cargill’s agricultural trading division had outgrown their AWS environment and were stifled by the limitations of legacy tools.

The Outcome

2nd Watch replicated and rebuilt Cargill’s AWS environment with larger IP space. In the process, we removed unnecessary waste to reduce costs and complexity, deployed modern AWS tools to increase efficiency, and elevated cybersecurity with both internal controls and external protection.


The Overview

Founded in 1865, Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the U.S. in terms of revenue. With over 155,000 employees, Cargill brings food, agricultural, financial, and industrial products to people in more than 125 countries around the world. They connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. Minneapolis-based Cargill is one of the world’s top producers and distributors of agricultural products such as sugar, refined oil, cotton, chocolate, and salt.


The Challenge

When 2nd Watch originally built Cargill’s AWS environment in 2018, the agricultural giant wanted a very specific IP space that they quickly outgrew. There was no easy way to expand their virtual private cloud (VPC) because they were locked down with AWS Direct Connects to on-premises networks. With only a certain amount of IPs and structured VPC ranges, Cargill was continually having to rotate workspaces. In order to grow and scale their environment, Cargill needed a solution that would allow them to add additional workspaces and users for smaller platforms to live in the environment.

Additionally, Cargill wanted an alternative to the SoftNAS storage space they were using. SoftNAS is a Linux-based virtual appliance that required Cargill to pay for both an instance and a license. These expenses were in addition to the Amazon license they were paying which drove costs unnecessarily. On top of that, Cargill was unhappy with the lack of organization in the storage space and needed something that would enable them rather than add complexity.

Without any environment for collaboration and data sharing, data was interpreted and used differently based on the way it was pulled. The result was mistrust in the data which then required manual reconciliation to achieve accuracy. Again, these extra steps and manual processes forced users to spend an inordinate amount of time on creating reports, rather than analyzing them to influence business impacts.


The Solution

Without internal cloud expertise, Cargill relies on 2nd Watch as a trusted part of their team and strategic cloud vision. Since building their original environment, 2nd Watch has been managing Cargill’s AWS cloud and serving as an advisor and consultant on the evolution of their infrastructure and cloud capabilities. Knowing the ins and outs of their environment, 2nd Watch recommended a rebuild to overcome the inefficiencies of not being able to scale.

2nd Watch replicated and rebuilt Cargill’s entire AWS environment on a 2019 server with larger IP space so there was no need to take down production. To accommodate Cargill’s team growth, they wanted to add applications as different instances and infrastructures that live in the environment. Therefore, a main focus of the engagement was to provide more IP range in all of Cargill’s environments. With expanded environments, Cargill was able to realize their real-time and anticipated growth with flexibility.

In alignment with AWS best practices, 2nd Watch removed a lot of waste based on usage and decreased overhead. Originally, Cargill had directories in each environment that were not being used, so we removed the excess and now Cargill is only using one directory. They also had AWS Direct Connects going to each environment, whereas now, Direct Connects only connect to the transit gateway network and account. This methodology significantly reduces Cargill’s expenses while streamlining the environment for usability and efficiency.

To transition off SoftNAS, 2nd Watch migrated Cargill to Windows to save them the cost of the license and provide a more organized storage solution. 2nd Watch also set up Amazon S3 replication to replace the script that Cargill was previously using with their S3 buckets. Because Cargill does multiple RDS backups a day, the script created replications to different accounts rather than the unified S3 replication service. Not only does the service solution follow best practices, but it also integrates backups for efficiency.
For easier environment access, 2nd Watch eliminated multiple workspaces, so Cargill users don’t have to remote desktop (RD) in. We consolidated domains down to one and now users can login to everything with just one domain and one workspace. Using AWS Control Tower, Cargill can quickly and simply deploy accounts underneath a top point and control access. Cargill administrators can lock and grant access with guardrails, so users only have what they need. We also upgraded Cargill’s cybersecurity with an on-premises version of Micro Trend running on an EC2 instance, and installed Alert Logic as a network intrusion detection system (IDS) with scanning.


The Outcome

Since engaging with 2nd Watch, Cargill has gained a trusted and experienced cloud advisor and partner to realize efficiency and cost savings. Not only has Cargill saved on the number of licenses they pay, but with modern efficiency comes increased productivity and maximum output. With a modern AWS environment, Cargill is better equipped to grow and scale without friction, and users are armed with the automation and innovation necessary to maintain Cargill’s competitive advantage.

Within their optimized environment, Cargill has a heightened cybersecurity strategy that satisfies compliance and industry regulations, and administrators can control internal user access. Storage is better organized for easy access, S3 replication is not unnecessarily redundant, and with domain and workspace consolidation, login is easy. Overall, Cargill’s new AWS cloud foundation and their partnership with 2nd Watch empowers them to achieve more faster, and with higher confidence.