Centralized monitoring of shared IT resources contributes to safeguarding operational capabilities for 1,500 municipal personnel, improving the delivery of public services in a metropolitan area.
“Auvergne Metropole is a metropolitan area in the center of France. The municipal organization is responsible for a large scope of public services, with highly integrated operations. Each responsibility area is supported by a range of applications hosted in data centers. Business applications are used by both municipal personnel and the public, depending directly on infrastructure availability and monitoring.” – Anne-Marie Auxiètre, Director of the infrastructure initiative.
The project in a few words
- Comply to an overarching strategic plan for public service delivery.
- Enhance the quality of public services.
- Contribute to the organization’s objectives through dispensing IT services to the 21 municipalities that are part of the metropolitan area.
- Reduce the footprint of IT in the metropolitan area’s budget.
ITOM challenges (infrastructure & production)
- Pool IT resources for the metropolitan area and the City of Clermont-Ferrand, to manage one integrated IT system.
- Mastering and enhancing the operation chain of a very heterogeneous IT system over a large geographical scope.
- Guarantee the daily operational capabilities of the metropolitan area’s 1,500 municipal personnel.
- Guarantee the availability and performance of service delivery to the metropolitan areas’ 290,000 residents.
The solution: Centreon Business Edition
- Reduced operational costs for IT monitoring maintenance (one unified platform instead of two).
- Faster time-to-monitoring thanks to Plugin Packs.
- Improved visibility on a heterogeneous and geographically distributed IT system.
- Faster response to incidents.
The project in numbers
- Number of sites covered by the monitoring: 400 (including network equipment) within the metropolitan area, 2 data centers hosting shared infrastructure, including storage, servers, virtualized environments (VMWare) and security.
- Scope: 100% of the IT perimeter including the technical and application platforms for personnel and public service.
- Centreon Metrics: currently: 1000 hosts and 6,000 services, at full deployment: 1500 hosts and +10,000 services.
- Number of users: 10+ users currently.
An important hub and counterweight to France’s second regional economic powerhouse, the Clermont metropolitan area acts as a development catalyst for the entire region of Auvergne. With highly integrated areas of expertise as focal strengths, the municipal government organization is responsible for the development of public policies supporting the daily lives of 290 000 residents. It is also planning for their future. The metropolitan area comprises 21 municipalities and extensive powers covering a wide range of responsibility areas, including economic development, urban planning and maintenance (roads, parking infrastructure, traffic signs), transport (equipment and public transport infrastructure), waste management, sustainable development, water and sanitation, housing, urban policy, sport, culture, and tourism.
The metropolitan area organization is still young. It was officially created on January 1, 2018, but the sharing of IT resources started in 2017. The Digital Division was created from a merger of two IT departments from municipal organizations preceding the creation of the metropolitan area. The Digital Division comprises 5 core service areas, including the Infrastructure and Production. The unit is responsible for the IT infrastructure of the metropolitan area, the shared infrastructure program for member municipalities, as well as the deployment of a centralized IT monitoring platform.
The Digital Division manages an IT system that’s highly heterogeneous, comprising multiple technical equipment and applicative environments used by 3,500 municipal personnel: messaging, financial or HR applications, such as leave management or payroll; or applications intended for residents for such services as registering for daycare or recreation activities, water usage invoicing, access to waste management centers, etc.
The IT monitoring project is a strategic part of the digital transformation of public services, enhancing visibility and responsiveness. After some preliminary steps that consisted in replacing the outdated monitoring tools and integrating technical and application-related assets into the new solution, the project is now evolving to enable business-aware IT monitoring, which will help control the delivery of quality IT services to both municipal personnel and residents of the metropolitan area.
The full story
An important hub and counterweight to France’s second regional economic powerhouse, the Clermont metropolitan area acts as a development catalyst for the entire region of Auvergne. With highly integrated areas of expertise as focal strengths, the municipal government organization is responsible for the development of public policies supporting the daily lives of 290 000 residents. It is also planning for their future. The metropolitan area comprises 21 municipalities and extensive powers covering the full range of its responsibilities, including economic development, urban planning and maintenance (roads, parking infrastructure, traffic control and road signs), transport (equipment and public transport infrastructure), waste management, sustainable development, water and sanitation, housing, urban policy, sport, culture, and tourism.
A new IT management unit, the Digital Division, in support of the overarching objectives of the metropolitan area
The Digital Division of the metropolitan area organization employs 50 people in 5 core service areas: geographic information system (GIS), administration and finance, business applications, user relations and helpdesk, and finally, infrastructure and production, which oversees IT capabilities and the shared IT infrastructure initiative.
“The Digital Division is already dispensing the full scope of IT services to the City of Clermont-Ferrand and its metropolitan area. Infrastructure in our data centers are dedicated to the metropolitan area’s member municipalities, hosting one’s payroll, or in another case, services such as messaging or waste management,” explains Anne-Marie Auxiètre, Director of the infrastructure initiative. “The ultimate goal is to provide à la carte IT services to the 21 municipalities in the metropolitan area community, letting them decide which they want to opt in to. At the moment, the priority is to build the framework for shared IT infrastructure, enabling an integrated IT system,” states Anne-Marie.
A major and essential initiative for the Digital Division: building a common IT infrastructure framework
At the beginning of 2017, the Infrastructure and Production team undertook major IT projects which aimed at building a shared IT system for the City of Clermont-Ferrand and its metropolitan area. In France, the status of “metropolitan area” involves not only the transfer of important governing responsibilities, but also the relocation of personnel and installations as well as the migration of applications, among other things.
“Pooling IT resources is an extensive and long-term project that requires planning in order to provide uninterrupted IT service and business continuity to metropolitan area staff. For a while, we had the two systems running side by side. We then carried out a major analysis and overhaul of our infrastructure. We’re finally seeing the end of this phase,” relates Anne-Marie. “Two data centers constitute the foundation of the metropolitan area’s IT system, hosting assets that are entirely shared: storage, servers, virtualization and security. Updating the obsolete network hardware is also providing us the opportunity to implement a single IP addressing plan, a critical step to be able to host and manage the IT of individual municipalities within the metropolitan area. Ultimately, even the firewalls will be shared,” explains Anne-Marie Auxiètre.
Benefits of a common IT system: Efficiency gains and cost reduction
At this stage of the initiative for shared IT resources for the metropolitan community, which integrates significant infrastructure investments, current or projected, the Infrastructure and Production team is not aiming at short term ROI. The team is rather focusing on the long-term strategic implications of the project, and on the inherent benefits of sharing IT resources.
“The main opportunity for us lies in prioritizing technologies that are the most commonly used, since maintaining redundant systems is expensive, complex, and time consuming. Consistent and persistent standardization will allow us to save time and become more efficient in managing infrastructure over the longer term. Eventually it will also enable us to offer quality IT services to municipalities within the urban community. The infrastructure sharing initiative also comes with significant financial advantages,” mentions Benjamin Dubost, system and network administrator.
Ensuring operational capacity to 1,500 municipal personnel and service availability to residents, and beyond
“The metropolitan area organization is responsible for a large portfolio of public services in a context of highly integrated operations. Each responsibility area is supported by a range of applications hosted in data centers. Business applications are used by both municipal personnel and the public, depending directly on infrastructure availability and monitoring. Those applications include messaging, financial or HR applications, such as leave management or payroll; or applications intended for residents for such services as registering for daycare or recreation activities, water usage invoicing, access to waste management centers, etc. We’re frontline service providers in multiple areas, which is not necessarily the case with similar metropolitan community organizations in the country. Some hire subcontractors to manage public services, emphasizes Anne-Marie.
“As a matter of fact, we’re responsible for a complex and heterogeneous IT ecosystem: all kinds of equipment – from network switches and inverters to PCs taking attendance counts at the library; applications; and devices such as video surveillance cameras on the streets. Here’s a concrete example: the City of Clermont-Ferrand manages cafeterias in public schools, so we go as far as monitoring connected ovens and fryers. Food preparation is highly controlled in France. In schools under our watch for example, meat served for lunch is cooked during the night at low temperature. If there’s a power interruption, it means the meat is not kept within recommended temperature values. There’s a potential health hazard for school children. IT monitoring plays a role in food safety, ensuring constant power supply to cooking equipment. Meal preparation staff are well aware of food safety risks, but they know nothing of the complex IT infrastructure that help mitigate those risks. It falls upon us, the Infrastructure and Production team, to build monitoring projects that take such risks into account,” adds Benjamin.
IT monitoring to gain visibility and control over the management of a very heterogeneous IT ecosystem
At the beginning of the shared IT resources initiative, the Infrastructure and Production team of the newly created metropolitan community started up with two legacy monitoring solutions, which they intended to migrate to a new, integrated monitoring platform. Centreon Business Edition was the solution that had been selected.
“Today we have set up a single platform to centralize IT monitoring where previously there were two distinct IT perimeters to manage. Having consistent and global visibility on the entire IT system is critical to us. A shared IT system in the public service context automatically means a heterogeneous IT system. We now need to manage all this complexity, ensuring everything works seamlessly and anticipating potential service interruptions. Benefiting from an integrated view, seeing everything from a single console, eliminates the need to juggle between several views. It means maintaining only one system to instead of two, ultimately saving money. But the best part is knowing what’s happening at all levels of the infrastructure, at both the technical and application levels. Everything shows up in Centreon Business Edition. We gain visibility and responsiveness in the event of a problem,” explains Benjamin.
“We own our fiber, so we’re really managing our network from A to Z, including remote sites. In terms of geographical scope, our monitoring perimeter already integrates 400 sites, installations where we have network equipment, in addition to data centers, where we’re monitoring all servers, VMWare environments, storage, and more. Leveraging the auto-discovery functionality and the Plugin Packs for data collection makes us extra efficient when deploying new services. Plugin Packs do cover a lot of ground and they’re ready to use. In 95% of the cases, we find the Plugin Pack we need to integrate the IT asset we’re looking to monitor. It’s already configured. Plugin Packs really provide additional value to the way we’re doing things nowadays. Frankly, they’re just great and considerable time savers,” concludes Benjamin.
From monitoring technical and application layers up to creating a collaborative space for business-aware monitoring
Today’s IT monitoring helps ensure municipal personnel can go about doing their job. The Infrastructure and Production team is now moving forward: evolving the project to adopt business aware monitoring.
About ten users from various internal teams use the IT monitoring platform on a daily basis: Infrastructure and Production, Assistance and User Relations, as well as the Helpdesk. The vision at this point is to build business-centered views in collaboration with the Business Applications team.
“Any incident relating to our business continuity and disaster recovery plan will get attention fast, but a subtle problem in a data center can just as well disrupt the daily work of business application users. This is where the advanced modules of Centreon Business Edition (custom views, service mapping and reports) come into play. We’re going to use the suite to set up and deliver business views – a weather forecast for critical applications as well as a helpdesk map view. Another step will be to create reports for management,‘ add Benjamin and Anne-Marie.
“With an extensive use of Plugin Packs, we may start monitoring resources that are not currently monitored right now. But even with what we are monitoring today, we will be able to deliver business-aware monitoring dashboards or an IT weather forecast. Right now, we’re meeting our primary objective, ensuring that IT monitoring offers benefits to other divisions in our organization,’ conclude Benjamin and Anne-Marie.