Reaching beyond IT with a cloud based ITSM solution
Large, complex organisations require a dynamic IT system that can cope with many conflicting and rapidly changing demands, and no more so than now during this unprecedented state of flux that many industries are facing.
Aggreko, a Glasgow-based, global leader in power, heating and cooling services, is one such organisation. With a team of 40 technicians offering first-line support to over 6000 employees, Aggreko’s Technology Services (ATS) management team recently realised it wouldn’t be long before its rapidly aging on-premise IT Service Management (ITSM) solution would become obsolete. The ATS team found themselves at a crossroads: either overhaul the current system with a cloud-based solution, or upgrade to the latest on-premise ITSM solution.
The biggest IT service management pain the power company felt was the result of relying on a 10-year old on-premise solution, that was struggling to keep up with the growing demands of the organisation. Aggreko was processing over 7000 tickets every month and struggling to administer over 3000 incident categories within maintenance windows, meaning that outages became more frequent, and response times increased. This resulted in classifications becoming decentralised, which in turn led to poor data quality, making it almost impossible for the IT team to make data-based resource decisions. Aggreko’s IT team knew that by achieving efficiencies in service management operations, they could free up resources and focus on using accurate data analytics to fuel business intelligence and ultimately, drive innovation and maintain a competitive edge.
“We quickly agreed that the new ITSM solution should be cloud-based for smaller management overhead and provide a real-time understanding of IT issues being posed,” Tony Deeb, Service Deliver Manager at Aggreko details. “It was essential that the winning solution be deployed out-of-the-box to avoid complexity and with our processes already incorporated. We were keen to show immediate productivity gains with an emphasis on increasing web-based self-service capabilities to lead to more satisfied user outcomes.”
Achieving accurate insights
ATS decided that the best option to achieve these goals would be to implement cloud-optimised Ivanti® Service Manager, in three stages.
Phase one of the rollout saw the deployment of Incident, Problem and Self-Service modules. The team saw immediate benefits to the help desk function by implementing a centralised Incident module. Before this, technicians had to classify incoming tickets into one of over 3000 different categories. Upon investigation, ATS discovered that first-line support was only using around 1% of these categories regularly, without removing the obsolete and irrelevant categories. After rolling out the new system, technicians worldwide are able to log incidents centrally and classify them into 300 verified conditions. The ability to accurately classify incidents has allowed for the collection of more useful, real-time data that has increased insight and improved operations. Today, the service desk can now distinguish between incidents and requests, which allows ATS to rapidly spot incident trends using ticket data, as well as predict and fix those incidents which occur often, much more quickly.
The second stage used Change Management to centralise change improvements and ultimately include integration of Azure DevOps. Development teams situated globally were set up to access approvals and incidents, standardising change requests in real time. This global access helped alleviate the pressures of ATS logging critical changes in SharePoint files.
Upgrading its ITSM system has allowed Aggreko to map a three-year formal certification plan with key audit points using the Service Desk Institute’s star rating scheme. This is a strategic move away from Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for end users that are hard to define and establish, and then rapidly become obsolete. Aggreko plans to determine internal customer satisfaction through an app-based approach using user happiness indicators. Now, users are prompted to define their experience by answering only four questions, delivering to ATS an experience satisfaction grade between one and five.
A solution not just for IT
Due to the success of the ATS usage of the Ivanti platform, the solution has moved beyond IT and into HR, which saw a successful deployment that replaced its legacy request process. With three global HR help desks that modelled IT’s follow-the-sun service levels, HR was keen to reap the benefits seen by the IT department, and transfer HR-related queries from calls and emails onto its own dedicated, centralised request management system that detailed common employee question areas such as holidays, appraisals, and benefits requests.
“When you are a critical support service within the energy industry, it’s all about maximising efficiencies,” Tony concludes. “I’m pleased to report that, so far, the move to cloud-based IT service management with Ivanti has been relatively pain-free. With the new system in place, we see and report a better user experience already, with an above-average score for service desk happiness.”
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GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”