Transformational partnership is in our DNA

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is a dairy farmer-owned cooperative which provides a diverse range of products and services for the dairy industry.


Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is a dairy farmer-owned cooperative which provides a diverse range of products and services for the dairy industry.

Based at Newstead, in the Waikato, has branches across New Zealand regions, plus branches in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, and agencies in South America, the United States, Asia and South Africa. LIC employs over 700 permanent and 1,500 seasonal staff and has annual revenue in excess of $170 million per annum.

In 2011 LIC embarked on a massive technology and business transformation project and formed the “Heart Programme”, which became the vehicle for delivering its technology strategic plan.

The Challenge

LIC’s main business is providing products and services to over 10,000 dairy farmers across New Zealand, with a heavy reliance on IT systems to manage, process and support data. The current IT systems were unreliable, and showed poor processing capacity. This led to breaches in customer Service Level Agreements (SLAs), resulting in higher support costs and a negative impact on LIC’s customer needs. It was evident LIC’s production animal database and application server were major contributors to poor performance during peak seasonal load times.

Specifically the areas that required addressing included:

  • Poor performance of core and critical systems. The agreed SLA was 10 minutes, but it was taking over 20 minutes and longer in peak season.
  • Complaints from customers regarding the responsiveness of synchronizing data with LIC’s systems.
  • Current tools and technologies were nearing end of vendor support, with several no longer supported by the vendor, resulting in performance issues.

Several recommendations were made to LIC during the review process, including the migration of database servers to modern commodity hardware. This would bring many benefits including a supported, robust and scalable platform, lower cost of infrastructure provisioning, and greater capacity management.

The Solution

The solution proposed by Datacom was to migrate the core infrastructure to modern commodity hardware and software.


  • Stabilise the current operational environment
  • Optimise the current version of the DB2 database
  • Migrate the database platform from SUN hardware to commodity based Intel hardware and implement virtualisation technologies
  • Migrate the database operating systems from Oracle Solaris to Red-Hat Linux
  • Upgrade the IBM DB2 databases and associated software to the latest supported versions, DB2 10.1
  • Migration of the underlying COBOL based toolsets to the latest supported version

As part of the migration, multiple applications running on these new systems had to be rigorously tested. These aging systems were core to LIC’s business, and several technical challenges and hurdles had to be overcome. In a single weekend all the data had to be extracted, transferred into the new database and updated, and all applications tested and validated.

This was a major initial step to transformation as part of the heart programme, and has underpinned the transformation strategy. With a stable and reliable system in place, Datacom can now continue to work with LIC to migrate its other systems to the newer technologies.

The Technologies

Several key technologies were delivered during this project including, IBM DB2 Database Platform, RedHat Linux Operating Systems, MicroFocus COBOL and VMware Virtualisation technologies.

The Partnership

Through complete ownership from concept to delivery, Datacom proved the promise, and along the way earned the trust and respect of the customer. This has ultimately elevated Datacom to the level of strategic partner rather than just preferred vendor.

This was a high-profile project delivered on time and within budget, and a good example of a successful multi-vendor implementation. This installment of the project led the way for future initiatives to follow the same project methodologies introduced by Datacom.

LIC now entrusts Datacom to help define its key strategic roadmap with regards to technology transformation.

“Our future state would look like data [turning] into information, into knowledge, to support decision making on farms anywhere, anytime."

Dave Scullin -  Chief Information Officer, LIC

The Results

  • Reduction of business risk through upgrading to the latest supported versions of hardware/software and the consolidation of support contracts.
  • Efficiency gains for farmers through reduced synchronisation times during peak periods from 20 minutes down to 2-3 minutes.
  • Greater IT flexibility by providing an agile platform that can easily and cost effectively be replicated, and scaled out for performance or disaster recovery requirements.
  • Improved customer satisfaction and retention by the business meeting SLAs.
  • Improved customer experience as farmers receive higher quality service.