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F5 in the Cloud: Optimizing Logistics with the Port Authority of Jamaica

Guest post from F5 customer Dwain Powell, PCS Director, The Port Authority of Jamaica

The Port of Kingston in Jamaica has been a hub of shipping activity in the Caribbean and Latin American region since the 17th century. Today, Kingston remains one of the busiest ports in the region, and it’s also the headquarters of the Port Authority of Jamaica. Here at the port, we work to improve the maritime sector as it relates to infrastructure, such as ports and cruise ships, as well as cargo and vessel movement and the IT and business processes that drive growth.

Traditionally, we’ve generated a lot of paper around the importing and exporting of cargo. For example, if you are importing a motor vehicle, you have to interface with both public sector and private sector entities, including the shipping agent, Customs, terminal operators, and more. It’s been a pretty labor-intensive process, but we’ve been working on making it more efficient.

To that end, we partnered with Jamaican Customs to implement a Port Community System, which is geared toward improving cargo logistics. Jamaica’s not a big country, but a lot of shipping traffic passes through our ports. What we’re trying to do with the PCS is re-engineer our manual business processes and integrate all these different stakeholders on one platform.

One of our first decisions after settling on a PCS was to figure out whether to host it on-site or in the cloud. We looked at cost implications in terms of initial outlay and ongoing maintenance to maintain that physical network infrastructure. Based on our research—and the fact that many Fortune 500 companies are moving toward-cloud-based solutions—we decided to host the PCS in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Going cloud-based removes many risks for us in terms of hardware redundancy, system redundancy, and failover. Also, it’s very easy to scale up in terms of providing storage space, server availability, or performance. And while Azure offers native load balancing and security, we knew that adding F5 application delivery services to our PCS deployment would optimize our system.

Security, for example, is a major component of the system. The PCS will accept shipping manifests from the agents, which contain confidential commercial documents that give information about the type of cargo being transported through the country. Storing that information securely in the PCS is of utmost importance. We knew that the F5 security products are Tier 1 in terms of adoption by financial institutions and governmental organizations, which made it an easy decision for us.

Now, with the PCS up and running in the Azure cloud—supported by F5 application delivery and security services—we’ve seen a significant reduction in paperwork, which has led to increases in efficiency for the shipping agents. Plus, we all sleep easy at night knowing that F5 is protecting all the sensitive data stored in the PCS. At the end of the day, the Port Authority is focused on improving the way the world does business in Jamaica, and F5 is definitely a critical part of doing that faster and safer.

For more information about how the Port Authority of Jamaica is using F5 technology to drive innovation and growth in the country’s maritime sector, read the customer story.