Success Story: Sopra Steria IT sifts through big data for a rapid ROI

Axway simplifies a complex business by providing real-time monitoring of all IT infrastructure and applications

  • Siège social

    Paris, France
  • Secteur

  • Challenge

    Deploy an industrial solution to provide real-time, centralized monitoring and supervision of the company's entire computer infrastructure and the applications that run on it.

  • Solution

  • Résultats

    • Enhanced business efficiency and improved communication with end users, through a service health dashboard that only reports incidents that impact end-user services
    • Process optimization with a single centralized operations team that handles monitoring and supervision for all IT systems and applications
    • Cost reduction through the elimination of redundant teams of operators, and the offshoring of the solution
    • Improved capacity, scalability and performance through access to big data capabilities, with a virtually limitless capacity to process events and scale up rapidly

A European leader in digital transformation

Sopra Steria, European leader in digital transformation, provides a broad portfolio of end-to-end service offerings, including systems integration, software development, infrastructure management, business process services and consulting. Created in January 2015 by the merger of Sopra and Steria, the Sopra Steria Group had over 39,800 employees in more than 20 countries and revenues of €3.7 billion in 2016.

Filtering a massive quantity of events: a big data challenge

Following the merger that created Sopra Steria, the new company's IT department needed an industrial solution to provide real-time, centralized monitoring of its entire computer infrastructure and the applications that run on it. This single solution would have to monitor a heterogeneous environment comprised of 170 physical sites and over 3,000 devices.

These devices, and the applications they serve, generate a massive number of events – on the order of hundreds of thousands per day – presenting a big data challenge. Events had to be filtered to extract only those that have an impact on user services and require intervention by the operations staff.

Moreover, to streamline its monitoring activity, Sopra Steria IT sought to establish common processes for all sites. Finally, to further reduce costs, the company wanted to offshore the monitoring and supervision activity, and provide Level 1 intervention from the offshore site.

A closer look at a complex affair: application supervision

For Sopra Steria IT, the monitoring and supervision of infrastructure and software is a complex business, involving:

  • 1,000 Unix servers and 2,000 Windows servers at 170 sites worldwide
  • High-value, critical applications, including the company's intranet and financial software
  • Events generated in the Syslog and EventLog by system and by application
  • An average of 100,000 events generated per day, with peaks of 400,000 or more

The merger brought together two companies that had their own systems and software. Moreover:

  • A variety of monitoring solutions were used for the various network elements, servers and applications
  • Multiple teams were in charge of these monitoring solutions, each with their own processes
  • Operators received notification of all events, regardless of criticality, so staff had to look through thousands of events to find those that might impact user services

"Application supervision is a complex affair at Sopra Steria because application components generally rely on several servers and multiple network elements," said Bruno Cornu, Deputy Chief Information Officer, responsible for IT infrastructure at Sopra Steria. "We have to be able to model these dependencies so we can monitor the application effectively."

Building an industrial-scale solution with Axway WideVision

To rationalize the situation, Sopra Steria DSI wanted to deploy a single, centralized solution to monitor all of the company's servers, network elements and software. A single team would manage the new solution, which had to filter events to select only those that have an impact on user services.

"We were looking for an industrial-scale solution," said Cornu. "In early 2016, we did a study to compare solutions available on the market and then invited Axway to do a proof of concept (POC) of its WideVision solution." Axway WideVision was to:

  • Provide real-time supervision and monitoring for all of Sopra Steria's IT infrastructure and applications
  • Manage all end-user functions, such as classifying, processing and displaying alerts, managing rules, etc.

"The initial POC revealed that additional capabilities were needed," said Cornu, "The solution had to be able to analyze event logs, and to filter a tremendous volume of events." To meet the needs of Sopra Steria IT – and that of other customers – Axway offered to design and build a new module, Axway Event Manager, to analyze logs and filter the massive numbers of events generated.

Developing Axway Event Manager to leverage big data

From the start, a decision was made to build Axway Event Manager on top of Elastic Search, the open source big data suite. This approach enabled Sopra Steria IT to: 

  • Build a massive database that contained all events generated by their systems
  • Use Elastic Search's standard tools, such as Kibana, to query the database
  • Define and apply filters to sort events and extract those that should be reported
  • Send alerts to Axway WideVision

"It's a learning process," said Cornu. "Initially, we let Event Manager receive all events. With experience, we blacklisted certain types of events – such as information – which have no impact on user service."

Together, Axway and Sopra Steria IT fine-tuned the new module. "We thoroughly validated a new POC with Axway WideVision and Axway Event Manager, and confirmed that the solution fully meets our needs," said Cornu.

A pilot project was launched in January 2017, and project rollout will begin in April. "We plan to gradually switch our production systems to the new solution," said Cornu. "Our goal is to have all systems covered by the Axway solution by the end of 2017." In their deployment:

  • Axway Event Manager will handle technical supervision
  • Axway WideVision will supervise the services delivered to business users, and provide a service health dashboard

"Axway WideVision and Axway Event Manager will be the heart of our monitoring and supervision system," said Cornu. "The solution will enable us to fulfill our mission within the company and bring us into an industrialized era that leverages big data."

"Axway WideVision and Axway Event Manager will be the heart of our monitoring and supervision system. The solution will enable us to fulfill our mission within the company and bring us into an industrialized era that leverages big data."

 

Enhancing business efficiency to generate a rapid ROI

Even as it pursues the pilot project, Sopra Steria IT has a clear sense of the benefits of the Axway solution:

  • Enhanced business efficiency. Improved communication with end users, through a service health dashboard that exclusively reports incidents that impact end-user services; and, more generally, the ability to view services delivered to users, not just a technical view of processes. 
  • Process optimization. "With Axway's solution, a single centralized operations team is responsible for monitoring and supervising all IT systems and applications," said Cornu. "This is a major organizational change for us. Finally, operators will have a shared set of processes to handle alerts and resolve problems."
  • Cost reduction. Axway's solution enables a major cost savings by eliminating redundant teams of operators, each monitoring particular systems. Moreover, Sopra Steria IT plans to offshore the solution to a low-cost environment, for even greater savings.
  • Greater agility. The solution's advanced filtering techniques enable problems to be spotted instantly, for rapid intervention before users are affected. "We can parameterize response times for each application by setting thresholds," said Cornu. "If response times are poor, we can correct the problem before users call to complain."
  • Improved capacity, scalability and performance. Thanks to Axway Event Manager and its big data capabilities, Sopra Steria IT has a virtually limitless capacity to process events, and can scale up rapidly as its systems increase in number and complexity.

Asked about return on investment, Cornu said: "With Axway's solution, one of our first ROIs will be to have a single, centralized solution for the new Sopra Steria Group, which is just two years old."

Next steps on the road to full-scale deployment

As Sopra Steria IT moves from pilot project to full-scale deployment, it is fine-tuning system parameters and user interfaces, while planning future ways to leverage the Axway solution:

  • Designing dashboards. "On the hardware side, we're designing dashboards by device family, such as Unix or Windows machines," said Cornu. "On the software side, we're creating a single dashboard for each application, regardless of the servers or network elements it runs on."
  • Establishing filters. To ensure that Axway Event Manager reports only those events that impact user services, Sopra Steria IT is creating and testing filters.
  • Creating Service Level Agreements. "Once we're fully in production, we'll have a better perspective on how to improve our activity," said Cornu. "At that point, we'll set up SLAs for our services."
  • Leveragingthe event database. "Elastic Search will allow users to exploit the database to correlate events, search for information, and do other things we haven't even imagined yet," said Cornu.
  • Offshoring the solution. Ultimately, Sopra Steria IT plans to offshore the Axway solution, establishing a single team at the offshore site, which will be responsible for managing the solution, providing Level 1 intervention, and forwarding requests for Level 2 intervention to the relevant onshore site.

 "Axway's solution enables us to collect all events from all our sites, servers and applications, filter them for user impact, and collect them at a central point for monitoring and supervision," said Cornu. "It's a powerful solution that fully meets our needs."

"Axway's solution enables us to collect all events from all our sites, servers and applications, filter them for user impact, and collect them at a central point for monitoring and supervision. It's a powerful solution that fully meets our needs."

 

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