“In TFO’s sophisticated digital environment, IT monitoring plays a key role in delivering superior digital experiences to users—and so does, logically, our ability to report on IT service quality accurately and meaningfully for constant optimization. The need for improved communications on IT is what drove us to choose Centreon.” – Sylvain Le Pichon, Director, Infrastructure and User Support, Groupe Média TFO.
The project in a few words
Aware of the importance of IT monitoring to guarantee users optimal IT service, Groupe Média TFO, Ontario’s French-language broadcasting company, chose Centreon to improve how IT service is understood, managed, and communicated to stakeholders. The longer-term goal is to scale IT monitoring and reporting capabilities to constantly evolving needs in a fast-paced, user-centric digital environment.
Business objective: Ignite a culture of visibility
- Develop a culture of visibility from the bottom up, through holistic and business-aware IT monitoring.
- Control and constantly optimize IT service and user digital experience quality.
- Enable ongoing conversations on IT service KPIs for critical workflows.
- Inform CTO and other key stakeholders on IT performance and ways to improve it.
ITOM objectives: Make IT monitoring a meaningful activity
- Engage teams in IT monitoring by making it a worthwhile activity, beyond generating alerts.
- Promote collaboration and a single source of truth on IT performance for all stakeholders.
- Simplify IT monitoring maintenance and configuration.
- Visualize and report on IT performance with ease, through sharable and customizable dashboards and reports.
- Benefit from a fully supported solution that can run on premises.
The Centreon solution
- Centreon Business Edition
- Business-aware end-to-end monitoring
- Advanced reporting capabilities
- Ability to inform decision-making based on IT insights, to continuously improve performance.
- Advanced dashboard and reporting capabilities across IT roles and stakeholders, up to users, on the quality of IT service delivered.
- Platform can be continuously improved and scaled to match evolving needs and technological changes.
- A central, collaborative platform that is used daily and extends the team’s knowledge and capabilities—an excellent return on investment.
- Faster issue resolution and configuration.
- Enables the monitoring of broadcasting equipment.
The full story
Groupe Média TFO is a French-language public media present across the Canadian province of Ontario. They have a unique educational mandate which is deployed both through classic television broadcasting and digital platforms. TFO is praised for its omnichannel vision and innovative, award-winning creations. Not surprisingly, TFO is also committed to delivering high quality digital experiences, which are managed by a team of 11 IT specialists, and three active IT monitoring practitioners.
Parting with IT monitoring statu quo
TFO already had in place robust IT monitoring. Although most of the IT infrastructure was monitored, the team felt they were lacking in visibility over the health and performance of their infrastructure and their impact on business workflows. Alerts were being generated, but it was difficult to get the broader context and communicate on IT service performance. Also, alerts generated by the system were not tailored to specific users or needs, and so were at times ignored, defeating the purpose of monitoring. Sylvain Le Pichon, Director of infrastructure and user services at TFO, believed IT monitoring had the potential to provide much more value to the broadcasting company. He and his team were looking to initiate a visibility culture, through mapping the services supporting essential business workflows and constant awareness of the infrastructure’s health and overall performance. Sylvain wanted his team to be able to communicate and share IT insights among themselves and with various stakeholders within the organization to enable continuous optimization. It was time to shop for an IT monitoring solution to meet those requirements.
Topping the procurement list: robust reporting capabilities
Sylvain and his team compared a few solutions and found Centreon was the one that most closely met their requirements, including the need for advanced reporting capabilities. “The Centreon solution also had the advantage of demonstrated use cases in a broadcasting environment, it was budget friendly, and could run on premises, a TFO requirement.” Eva Group Canada, now EvaBssi, a sopra steria company, was selected to help conduct a proof of concept (POC) and then guide the solution’s implementation.
Implementation: a learning opportunity
Sylvain’s team, notably Franck Boudaud, System and databases administrator, were deeply involved in the implementation process, which doubled as a knowledge transfer opportunity, in addition to formal training. This helped the team familiarize with their new tool and ensured, subsequently, a smooth adoption. “We worked side by side with EvaBssi Canada, a Centreon partner, to build exactly the solution we had in mind, leveraging Centreon templates and professional advice to deploy at scale,” explains Franck, admitting the learning curve was steep at the beginning. The TFO team aligned to best practices in terms of implementation. Guided by EvaBssi, they took the time to understand how the solution worked and what it could do, then they defined the services they wanted to monitor and the KPIs they wanted to track. They decided who needed to be alerted and when, depending on the type of issue, and learned to leverage templates to configure monitoring. They made good use of the web interface, learning by doing. “We did our homework first and then came the payoff—once we had all the basics in place, we gained a lot of time, realizing we could configure a server, or add equipment, in just a few clicks,” recalls Franck.
The benefit of clarity
Once the solution was implemented, the team realized how much of a game changer it was. They went from a device and alert-focused monitoring platform to one that connects the dots, allowing monitoring of a wide range of equipment and providing visibility not only on the health status, but also on the performance of the IT system and its impact on business activity.
“As our team oversees an infrastructure supporting the chain of business activities leading to broadcasting, Centreon’s holistic IT monitoring solution made us more aware of our IT system as a whole. It provided a starting point for a culture of visibility in our organization, as we learn from each issue to improve user experience,” says Sylvain. “Our new Centreon solution is making us more proactive, gives us more time to analyze and respond to issues, and avoids the embarrassment of discovering them through users,” adds Franck.
Meaningful alerts that engage the team
Today the team is paying attention—and frequently logging to the IT monitoring solution because the alerts reach exactly the right team members, because the solution is well calibrated, and because it can be continuously improved and built upon. “The fact that we started by building a robust IT monitoring strategy, we were able to set up relevant notifications targeted at different roles within our IT team, which in turn helped engage the team and encouraged them to keep using the platform,” says Sylvain.
“How we use and manage IT monitoring completely changed once we started using Centreon. As the Centreon solution provides real value, the team likes to use it and contributes to a deeper and common understanding of the IT environment. And the beauty of it is that working together, we can constantly improve our platform, extend the monitoring scope with it, notably to some broadcasting equipment, and continuously make the platform more insightful,” adds Franck. “I, for one, log to Centreon every single day.”
Connecting IT with business users
About 230 hosts and 3000 services are part of an extended monitoring perimeter, covering infrastructure on which up to 300 users depend—employees, collaborators, and visitors, for example. Users are at the center of the team’s mission: ensuring permanent and fail proof connectivity.
The Centreon platform monitors the infrastructure behind essential tools such as the ERP system or applications that relate to the business of broadcasting. It also ensures all the equipment users take for granted keep performing at their peak—the nervous system that keeps them connected to the information they need, whether it’s the Internet, the Intranet or business databases. For employees and TFO visitors alike, this also includes meeting rooms and their technological fittings: telecommunication devices, computers, TV screens and video equipment.
“We all know how frustrating it is not to be able to rely on IT service at decisive moments. We’ve all been in meetings where the computer or the videoconferencing equipment doesn’t work at the worst possible time, for example. Infrastructure monitoring is a rewarding endeavour because with efficient tools like Centreon, we keep users connected to their data. We make sure they can connect with each other and collaborate. At the end of the day, we contribute to creating quality employee experiences. And through connecting users, we also connect with them—in a culture of visibility, we maintain proximity with users,” says Sylvain.
Connecting IT and broadcast
The Centreon solution is well adapted to the unique reality of TFO’s fast-expanding technological environment, which comprises two cultures—IT and broadcasting. “A platform like Centreon is highly scalable and flexible, so we can imagine developing protocols to monitor broadcasting equipment that are not traditionally monitored,” explains Sylvain. “Because Centreon has some unique capabilities in a broadcasting environment, we’re already extending IT monitoring to some studio equipment and audiovisual infrastructure which were not previously monitored. This is part of building a culture of visibility which crosses department lines,” adds Sylvain.
Communicating the value of IT
The most tangible benefit the team experienced from their Centreon solution relates to the chief reason the switch was operated: the need to modernize IT practices to adopt better communications at multiple levels. “With Centreon, the IT team enjoys better communication and collaboration among themselves, which help with prompt issue resolution. IT managers can better communicate on key SLAs so optimal service levels can be maintained throughout. Business stakeholders can grasp the role IT plays in their business area and understand how IT can contribute to better results. And ultimately, there’s better communication with users—so their experience and expectations can be managed when there are connectivity challenges,” concludes Sylvain.
From the solution’s integrator: Advice for a seamless transition to Centreon
Eva Group Canada, now EvaBssi, a sopra steria company, supported TFO in their transition to Centreon. Thomas Curutchet, Managing director and Lilian Martignac, IT consultant at EvaBssi Canada, share some insights for organizations looking at replacing their IT monitoring platform. “When transitioning to a new solution, it’s recommended to define first what you want to achieve with your IT monitoring, what data you want to get out of it, and to define what’s important to monitor, involving all stakeholders, for example teams responsible for applications. It’s not recommended to rebuild on the initial tracks—you would be missing out on the rich possibilities Centreon has to offer,” advise Thomas and Lilian.
Important things to consider when adopting a new IT monitoring solution
- Take the time to define what you want IT monitoring to do for your organization. What should be monitored at what benefit?
- Discover your own IT environment—map the infrastructure and IT assets that supports essential business workflow and determine the KPIs you need to understand and report on digital performance.
- Think beyond your data centers and interconnect IT monitoring with other domains (IT operations and business).
- Make sure to outreach to other stakeholders, notably the teams that support key business applications, as IT monitoring can benefit them too.
- Determine the KPIs you need to understand and report on digital performance.
- Invest in training and if you can, be involved during the solution’s implementation so you’ll learn by doing. This way the solution’s adoption will be strengthened.
- Invest in professional support to help you structure your data, establish host relationships, and interconnect components. It will save a lot of time at implementation, and lots of frustration later, when you’ll want to reap the full benefits of the solution.
- Open the IT monitoring platform to other IT teams, make it a collaborative space where key information can be exchanged.
- Be patient—give enough time for the platform to run and accumulate data for it to return all its value. Like a good wine, a well-designed, well-maintained IT monitoring platform gets better as it ages.
- Continuously develop and enhance your platform guided by what you learn from it, as you discover areas where performance and cost effectiveness can be improved. For example, fine-tune the configuration, create new views or define new KPIs to share.
“Centreon is a sophisticated IT monitoring solution, with unique capabilities—and so teams must learn how Centreon works first. Along with a rich set of advanced functionalities, Centreon brings an innovative logic to IT monitoring, which is worth learning to leverage all the solution’s benefits.” – Thomas Curutchet, Managing director, EvaBssi Canada.