After struggling to find a managed service provider that offered the right fit, an energy industry organisation sought a partner to address infrastructure instability and create a foundation for digital transformation.
Successful engagement with a managed service provider hinges on finding the right fit, both from a technical standpoint and in terms of organisational culture. When this customer found its needs were not met by their incumbent, a request for proposal (“RFP”) was issued. Respondents were assessed against detailed criteria to find the best match.
“For many businesses, 24/7/365 availability of of key systems is of the utmost importance. Our Data#3 team works hard to ensure our customers have a high level of flexibility they can rely on and that the solution delivered meets their expectations.”
Paul Crouch, General Manager for NSW and ACT, Data#3 Limited
This Data#3 customer organisation is responsible for ensuring the availability of essential energy services to Australians across the country. Providing a consistent service is of utmost importance, but frustrations with the incumbent managed service provider had created a raft of challenges for this customer. In particular, an unwillingness to rectify issues with a piece of key infrastructure had led to instability. Additionally, poor overall visibility was affecting service provision.
Organisations in the energy industry play a vital role in ensuring that the security, reliability and cost of energy are managed to benefit Australian families and businesses. In turn, there is a strong dependency on their IT departments to enable users to perform daily tasks. While a managed service provider should support and enhance the capabilities of the in-house IT team, for this customer, this was not always the case.
“Understanding our customers’ business needs is a high priority for Data#3. Knowing where they are right now, and where they are looking to go, helps ensure the technology they are investing in will take them there,” said Data#3’s General Manager for NSW and ACT, Paul Crouch.
The customer had an existing service provider, however they experienced inconsistent levels of support, and the service provider’s responsibilities were not dependably executed. The detrimental situation was exacerbated by the service provider’s high staff turnover. The end result highlighted an issue with the existing provider’s understanding of the customer’s systems, and a lack of capability with key infrastructure.
“We make it a priority to gain an understanding of the key infrastructure our customers use to ensure we can help take it to the level needed. If we didn’t, staff would be under immense pressure to manage the situation, while simultaneously trying conduct do day to day tasks,” said Crouch.
With the customer’s internal team stretched from regularly stepping in and managing situations themselves, maintaining consistent processes was problematic. Confidence in certain essential processes was lacking. Among the greatest concerns was the need for an updated backup system, and processes that could be trusted to protect valuable data.
“We knew the customer needed a new technology solution that was resilient, scalable, and above all, fully supported by the right partner. If this didn’t happen it was inevitable that they would experience constant stability challenges with their backups.”
By 2023, 50% of enterprises will utilise a cloud managed service provider to run some portion of their hyperscale cloud deployments, up from less than 20% in 2018.1
Following Data#3’s successful bid, an Enterprise Managed Service agreement was put in place that included access to skilled support through Data#3’s Service Desk, along with specialist network, server and storage engineering. Backup and service delivery management were also included, in a tailor-made managed service. This provided the organisation with the 24/7/365 availability they required.
The first test was transitioning services from the incumbent provider to the Data#3 Managed Service team.
“It was important that the customer was able to maintain a certain level of business continuity. Our teams worked hard to ensure the transition went smoothly, with minimal disruption to business.”
“There can be a lot of misconception around all IT systems now being in the cloud. But almost all organisations, even those making multi-billions per year will have some kind of legacy system that is not decommissioned yet because of the vital role it plays across the business,” commented Crouch.
Staff had an accurate understanding of what was needed, but Data#3’s review of the environment provided welcome confirmation. To ensure a seamless continuation of service to their stakeholders, availability of key data was vital; addressing backup technology and processes was a logical step.
“Our team executed a replacement backup solution and replaced the dated system with a new client-based, on-premises solution that interfaced to a cloud backup solution. This new technology improved their capability significantly with off-site storage,” said Crouch.
While the technology was an ideal fit and smoothly implemented, the process was not without some ‘bumps in the road’. This was where the right partnership paid tremendous dividends.
“We made sure that any challenges or concerns that would arise were very promptly addressed. It was imperative to Data#3 that the experience the customer had with their previous provider was not repeated,” explained Crouch.
After going to market twice in five years for a managed service provider, it was important to raise the customer organisation’s confidence, and increase consistency in IT support services. Although business hours were officially between 8.30-5.30, the customer’s operations extend after this. It was essential that a high level of support was available as needed outside of normal business hours.
“If your internal stakeholders are not able to deliver the services customers expect, it can significantly impact on the business in many ways,” commented Crouch.
While the organisation already had existing desktop support investments , these resources are now able to share Data#3’s service management toolset, ServiceNow. Data#3 is able to work closely with the desktop support service to deliver a consistently superior customer support across the support hours required.
“This had been a challenge for our customers’ IT team; opening hours are one thing, but the they needed to be able to successfully meet the expectations of their internal clients. Their work must sometimes happen on evenings and weekends. It is essential that systems and support are highly available,” explained Crouch.
“For many businesses, 24/7/365 availability of key systems is of the utmost importance. Our Data#3 team works hard to ensure our customers have a high level of flexibility they can rely on and that the solution delivered meets their expectations.”
For the IT team, finding the right mix has freed them to focus on the projects that support business direction. They are happy to have the day-to-day support needs to be managed, with clear communication that helps prepare them for the future.
As with any organisation, well-managed technology foundations are the bedrock of successful, effective functions. The role of the managed service provider is to provide trusted advice and support, as well as daily support and management of the underlying IT environment. From the challenges with the previous service provider to the improved situation now achieved, Crouch emphasises the importance of clarity.
“As important as it is to have a partner who understands your needs, it is also extremely important to be clear about your expectations of the service provider. Pay close attention to the culture of the service provider to ensure you get the closest match possible to take you where you need to go,” explained Crouch.
As a result of the evolved service environment, the customer has raised service levels for staff to more consistently deliver service to stakeholders and Australians.
“Although the project started from a poor experience with a previous service provider, our teams are passionate about a positive service delivery experience for our customers that is only strengthened by a balance of honest communication and the right technical skills,” said Crouch.
“We are thrilled with the success our customer has been able to achieve by leveraging Data#3’s Managed Services, and we look forward to seeing what that means for them in the future.”
1. Gartner (2018), Public Cloud Infrastructure Operations and Management Is a Shared Responsibility Model [Online] https://blogs.gartner.com/rene-buest/2018/12/14/publiccloud-infrastructure-operations-and-management-is-a-shared-responsibility-model/