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National Frozen Foods Gains Secure, One-Touch iPhone Access to Corporate Apps using F5 Solution

When’s the last time you had trouble finding frozen peas or corn in your local supermarket? Never, you say? You may have National Frozen Foods to thank for that. The 101-year old Seattle-based manufacturer and food distributor freezes more than three hundred million pounds of freshly harvested vegetables a year from local farms, shipping them to customers worldwide.

“We depend on many enterprise applications such as electronic data interchange (EDI), enterprise resource planning (ERP), Warehouse Management System (WMS), workforce management, and business intelligence (BI) systems to keep our four production plants running smoothly, and we’re always looking for ways to help employees work more efficiently,” says John Meersman, IT Director at National Frozen Foods. “Two years ago when we gave management iPhones, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if they could get instant access to the critical information they need when they’re away from the office?’”
That’s when National Frozen Foods learned about Apple’s VPN on Demand solution, an iOS feature that establishes a secure VPN tunnel on iOS devices. “It was exactly the capability we’d been looking for—we just needed to figure out how to make it work for our enterprise applications.”

F5 Networks helped National Frozen Foods turn their dream into a reality. The company uses F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Manager to manage digital certificates and user authentication while the BIG-IP Edge Client works “invisibly” on iOS devices, giving users seamless remote access to corporate applications. “The VPN connection is completely invisible to users; they simply tap the application icon on their device—just like they would to launch any other iPhone app,” says Michael Ellerbeck, Senior IT Business Analyst at National Frozen Foods. In the background, the F5 solution works in concert with Microsoft Active Directory to authenticate users, establish the secure VPN tunnel, and launch the application. Because each device’s client certificate is verified against Active Directory, users don’t even have to enter credentials. “It’s so simple, it almost seems like magic,” says Ellerbeck.

“Previously, employees spent a lot of time traveling to production plants or calling in to get plant and production information. Now that they have real-time access 24/7 to all the information they need, they’re able to make better business decisions faster,” says Meersman. “Thanks to F5, iPhones and iPads are now indispensable work tools for our employees. The solution has completely changed the way we work and improved our quality of life.”

Thanks to F5, iPhones and iPads are now indispensable work tools for our employees. The solution has completely changed the way we work and improved our quality of life. John Meersman, IT Director, National Frozen Foods