The Scottish Government Agriculture and Rural Economy (ARE) Directorate has undergone several transformations since its original founding after the Second World War. But its mandate has remained consistent—to promote sustainable economic growth in agriculture, the food industry, and in rural communities.  

Today, geopolitical factors, coupled with climate concerns, have only emphasized the ARE Directorate’s important role in creating food security via sustainable growth in agriculture. 

To achieve this, the ARE Directorate, led by Head of IT Infrastructure Neill Smith, has adopted a culture of innovation that leverages current and new technologies. From the initial adoption of Pure Storage® FlashArray™ in 2015 to reliably support online subsidy submissions and protect critical data, to the use of Portworx® as the backbone of a multi-cloud strategy for new application development—the ARE Directorate is keeping Scotland’s rural economy thriving.  

For these reasons, we are thrilled to name the Scottish Government ARE Directorate as this year’s Greatest of All Time Breakthrough Awards winner for EMEA. 

Creating a Fertile Technology Landscape 

The ARE Directorate’s journey with Pure began in its primary data center to determine if an all-flash array could support its unique requirements. These included the ability to support spikes in web traffic as the deadline for farmers to submit subsidy applications approached, improve developer build times, and meet regulatory requirements for data storage and resiliency.   

“Pure Storage more than exceeded the requirements we had when we ran the initial POC, but we also had to consider our long-term strategy for flexibility and sustainability,” says Smith. “This was something we knew Pure could support.”

After becoming Pure’s first customer in Scotland, the ARE Directorate saw immediate and significant improvements in performance, productivity, and resilience. Developers saved an average of 20 hours each month, which they’ve applied towards automating manual processes for further efficiencies. In addition, having the capability to fail over and replicate simply has been a major win for the team. 

“The way our external website functions is important from a reputation perspective,” says Smith. “The fact that we don’t have to worry about data recovery now is extremely reassuring.”

As a government body, this process is subject to regular audits as the ARE Directorate is accountable for getting subsidies into the hands of farmers quickly. With Pure, it can meet its timelines—and more. The Pure Evergreen® architecture eliminates forklift upgrades, delivering both non-disruptive upgrades and long-term cost savings. All in an environment that is simple to manage and maintain. 

“An ongoing challenge for us is that our infrastructure is constantly evolving,” says Smith. “With our previous storage, we were more reactive than proactive, but Pure Storage has allowed us to turn this around.”

Cultivating Innovation with Containers 

Indeed, Smith has created an environment for his development team to be innovative and creative to support the next wave of agricultural advancements. Portworx Enterprise is a key pillar of the ARE Directorate’s application development strategy, leveraging containerization with built-in high availability, data protection, data security, and hybrid-cloud mobility. The team can lift and shift applications between on-premises to the cloud in two minutes or less and are no longer tied to any specific cloud hyperscaler. This mitigates risk and keeps costs down while giving developers the freedom and flexibility to innovate. 

For example, the country’s hilly terrains can make it difficult for inspectors to get to, but feeding data collected using satellite technology through an artificial intelligence (AI) engine can provide important insights on crop health to increase yields. This data can also help farmers adopt greener ways to reduce carbon emissions, which ultimately increases their subsidy amounts. The ARE Directorate will leverage both AWS and containers for this initiative and others. By moving containers into the cloud, the organization will in turn reduce its carbon footprint.   

“A happy team is a productive team,” says Smith. “Portworx empowers our developers to create the next generation of agricultural applications that will support sustainable economic growth in agriculture, the food industry, and in rural areas across Scotland.” 

In agriculture, innovation is always in season. For its efforts to create a truly secure and sustainable food supply in Scotland, we congratulate the Scottish Government ARE on its award-winning achievements to date.