It’s a sport to ensure that everything works flawless

Employee portrait | Arnout Boer

Arnout Boer is group leader for the ICT Infrastructure group at Witteveen+Bos. For him, the fact that people do not generally notice the work he and his colleagues do is a compliment. He does stress, however, that ensuring a system’s reliability and user‑friendliness is hard work.

Complex

‘The ICT department is responsible for things like workstations, applications, the network, our data centre, and our cloud environment. Because of its size and its many areas of focus and interconnections, Witteveen+Bos is an interesting place for an IT professional. Effective security is becoming increasingly important. We’ve built a big wall around our data centre, but you can’t do that with cloud services. Before we make cloud applications available to colleagues, therefore, we very carefully check the security of the service.’

Unburdening the user

‘Typical activities at an engineering firm include making digital designs, performing complex calculations and managing projects. Each one requires something different from the network. For me, it’s a sport to work with the team to ensure the required capacity is available and that everything works flawlessly and securely. To unburden users, it’s essential that risk analysis, strict procedures and expert knowledge are present. 

One example is our process for implementing new forms of security, such as improvements to two-step verification. First, we test them within our own department, often coordinating with the ICT focus group too. Only once we know they work do we roll them out for the whole company.’

Advanced Lego

‘After 25 years working in ICT, I know I get the most enjoyment out of ensuring the essential services are in order. Sometimes, complex replacements are needed to ensure the basic infrastructure remains strong. Last year, for example, we replaced a number of crucial central components in our data centre, including the systems that house our project data. It was like an advanced version of Lego. We replaced the components preventively, otherwise the risk of problems would have been too high. In total, it involved more than 150 terabytes. Our colleagues noticed virtually nothing. In our profession, much of the work we do is invisible. That’s why it’s nice, once in a while, to be able to tell people exactly what the ICT team does. During our TKB knowledge congress in the spring, for example, I had the chance – together with our head of department, Gerrit Jan – to talk about how ICT deals with unexpected events. It was a great experience.’