Virtual Electronics develops and deploys innovative Comprehensive Cloud Solution ITSM
Services for a corporate software supplier with its headquarters in London and Singapore.
To control the actual state and additionally analyze the operating and reconfiguration of cloud services used by the customer we invented an innovative methodology for the flexible management of IT Services — the ITSM solution by Virtual Electronics.
IT Service Management (ITSM) is an approach to managing and organizing IT-services aimed at meeting business needs. IT-service management is implemented by IT-service providers by using the optimal combination of users, processes and information technology. The ITIL document series is used to help implement the IT-service management approach. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the world's most widely used guide to ITSM.
Contrary to the more traditional approach, ITSM focuses on the customer’s needs and the services provided to the user with the use of information technology and not on the technology itself. In other words, the client doesn’t have to search for multiple providers and undergo other distracting processes as ITSM by Virtual Electronics offers a complex end solution.
"We started working on this promising project back in February 2020. Being hit by the Covid-19 outbreak shortly, the success of the whole project was in jeopardy, and so was our reputation as a reliable software vendor. There was absolutely no way for us to turn back. We couldn't afford to fail one of our biggest customers, especially in the Covid-19 crisis. We knew that delivered on time, this project would have been a success for our client and us. On top of that, we didn't budget for such unexpected expenses. The time was running out and we found ourselves striving to get a partner that would provide us with an easy-to-implement solution and still fit our budget. This is where Virtual Electronics came in!”
The Managing Director of the corporate-sector software development firm encountered a problem of not having enough workforce and equipment to timely deliver one project they have been working on for a while.
The company had resources, a local software development team and server hardware to exactly meet the needs of their usual workload. As a consequence of the Covid-19 fallout, they had to let go of most freelancers and refuse part of the hardware to stay on their feet. Soon they realized that to deliver the order on time, they require more workforce in place along with additional hardware and other means to ensure effective project management and proper communication among the project participants.
However, having a breakdown of their finances, it was clear that it is impossible for them to keep up a larger team and equipment long term. They needed a flexible solution that would allow for on-time completion of the project within minimum budget and time frame. Besides, they wouldn’t be able to keep additional workforce and equipment on the completion of the project.
The requirements were multifaceted:
1. The IT solution should provide reliable management of a disparate set of cloud services for the user (both standard and customized), as well as cover additional properties and functionality acquired as a result of integrating services into a single integrated package. The functionality should also cover communication channels along with access points from the ground-based infrastructure.
2. The service should have a high degree of autonomy, allowing customers to use it to manage outdated or independently used third-party cloud solutions. Thus the solution should involve the ability to cover the standard business needs of a mid-range PC user and fully ensure the interface comfort of a decent level, including the technological tasks’ rate.
3. The cloud desktop for the client’s needs should have the highest performance service configuration as the user executes daily tasks alone or as a part of the development team. To accelerate the execution of technological operations, it is allowed to minimize the data in the specialist’s database. At the same time, the pilot production environment should have architecture identical to the future industrial operation environment with the full amount of data and the participation of all developed cloud web service users.
4. The solution should ensure actions for the reconfiguration of settings: enhancing resources in order to remove identified issues with the efficiency of workplaces or reallocating (or shutting down) excess resources for every customer separately.
5. On top of that, this IT solution should cover the standard needs of a typical IT-service of a business, such as:
- Accounting and control over the operation of the server infrastructure and user workstations (both cloud and ground-based);
- Updated accounting of properties and parameters of cloud services (both already used and potentially available for expansion or reconfiguration);
- The ability to satisfy the standard requirements of corporate website developers with a process maturity level – CMMI level 2;
- The comprehensive performance control that covers the entire chain of end-user interaction: from the access point to the ground-based infrastructure and further to the cloud service and back to the ground-based access point.
6. The specifics of the project should also take into account the peculiarities of its geographical coverage:
- Since service users are located in different time zones, it is possible to apply resources efficiently, distributing the load over time. However, the considerable distance between users is inevitably shown by delays in the system's response to requests. This requires the service to ensure continuous monitoring and optimization of communication channels, both between services in the cloud and between connecting communication channels to these services from the ground-based infrastructure in order to effectively reduce the negative consequences of delays.
- The developed solution should allow the user to reduce possible delays during the user-server interaction stage, such as sending a request to the server, processing the request on the server and receiving processing results from the server. Therefore, the solution should reduce delays in message channels as well as the time for processing requests by the server.
- At the same time, the service should be easily scalable in accordance with the parameters of the infrastructure being served, and access to it should be guaranteed from anywhere in the world, providing users with cloud virtual workstations with access from office or home PCs, laptops or smartphones via a VPN channel on the Internet.
- The solution should provide geographically distributed specialists with the opportunity to combine their information spaces for collaboration easily integrating them into teams of arbitrary sizes from 7 to 300 persons. Geographically, they can work remotely from anywhere in the world. Therefore every complex standard solution from the chosen cloud services should cover the appropriate requirements of the client, such as working with documents, mail, voice and video conferences.
To overcome all client problems, we implemented the innovative ITSM solution in the client’s business processes. Thanks to this, the client could view all the project information, track the progress of every team and assign work to any group or individual. Our ITSM solution as well allowed the client to add, remove and manage specialists for any task. We provided new workers with cloud remote workstations, instructions and training.
Access to operational data
The main requirement for the service is the ability to provide users with access to operational data of the cloud solution, including shared data storage, corporate email and instant messengers. The main platform for this environment is Microsoft products. In the absence of the necessary Microsoft products, other vendors’ products can be used.
The overall concept of the development process provides the opportunity to cover IT solutions not only for individual business users but also for larger groups that are part of a single information space. At the same time, it is important to provide a decent level of interface comfort and performance along with a basic set of tools for monitoring and analyzing the current state and reconfiguring the cloud solution architecture. The main priority of the draft is the functional completeness and adequacy of its architecture management tasks in the context of the ITIL standard.
Flexible configuration of the service structure
The mechanism for flexible configuration of the service structure and parameters adapted to the needs of every user is the key optimization tool (it is possible to reduce the overall performance of the service or increase overhead costs for support for up to 25% off the base cost). It also provides the integration of the solution deployment mechanism for the next user (effective in terms of simplicity and operation time). However, the deployment and delivery time of the service must not exceed the value of the average statistical period of receipt of the next order.
Implementation of an effective business process
If you successfully promote a service that is reflected in exceeding the threshold for deployment capabilities by a single team, it is advisable to implement an effective business process in order to attract additional teams whose purpose is to deploy and implement the next service for the next user. This may include regulatory documents, an internal corporate database, individual, pair and group learning and experience transfer tools as well as any knowledge gathered by the lead team. However, the total cost of connecting and maintaining additional teams for the deployment of the service should not exceed 20% off the total cost of the corresponding contracts.
As the major priority of improvement, the cost requirements are reduced by choosing the rationale configuration of cloud services at all levels of their performance (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) while ensuring their decent performance and standard office functions.
Vendors, products and client
The cloud services vendor launches their software into the market. Every product carries out one or more service functions. One service function can be realized in several different services from different vendors as well.
We deliver one program solution with vendor services installed to our client. Every vendor's service is installed on one or more client's workplaces. An employee is an individual holding a position in the client’s corporation for the duration of time specified by the client. One employee may have one or several different workplaces. User accounts are used to identify the executors of business steps.
Business steps and the ITIL standard
Every business step is registered in a single document. Every employee executes unlimited business steps for diverse business processes under one of their user accounts. The document reflects a chain of business steps making up a single business process built in compliance with the ITIL standard.
Every business process has its corresponding prototype template among standard ITIL processes assembled into a single ITIL standard. However, some specific business processes may not have a prototype in the ITIL standard.
“Not only Virtual Electronis' team came up with a perfect solution budget-wise and helped us hire the competent outsource support that we needed, but also helped us improve and smooth out the overall communication and collaboration processes between the rest of our IT team and the outsourced developers all in working from home conditions. We couldn’t ask for more!”
With the help of Virtual Electronics, the customer delivered their project on time. The cost savings on hardware estimates 50% off the initially planned amount. On top of that, effective project management and proper communication among the team members and management incited by Virtual Electronics allowed for completing the project 20% earlier than planned.
The innovative ITSM solution by Virtual Electronics provides:
• Fast and flexible expansion of computing capacities, such as remote workspaces for employees, instead of spending on new powerful laptops or other equipment. Now workers can use simple stations connected to a remote cloud workplace with its flexible resources, configuration. Such a remote workplace can be easily turned off at any moment;
• Effective project management and proper communication among the participants of a business process, such as providing common documents for cooperation or notifying certain parties, such as management, of situations jeopardizing the success of a project (for example, in case a team member is running late to deliver their part of work);
• Avoiding blurring of responsibility so that every team member clearly understands what is required on their part. With instructions created for each specialist personally to follow, it is easy to understand who didn’t meet their obligation putting the project at risk.