About Europ Assistance
Europ Assistance is a worldwide assistance group, with 6,000 employees in 33 countries, providing a range of insurance and assistance products for motorists, travellers and home-owners. In Italy, the company has more than 1,000 employees and runs an operation centre that handles more than three million customer calls annually.
Europ Assistance's customers rely on its services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—making ICT imperative to ensure high availability for the ICT systems that underpin its business. And when things go wrong—as they inevitably will, from time to time, in a large and complex infrastructure—Europ Assistance must be able to take rapid, targeted action to restore normal service levels.
With numerous distinct systems and applications dependent on multiple technologies, Europ Assistance was reliant on the knowledge and skills of individuals in its ICT team to keep things running smoothly. The company lacked an enterprise-level monitoring environment, and, in certain cases, some details regarding the interaction between systems and business services were unclear to the ICT department. Although the ICT team was resolving problems effectively, there was an inherent risk in being overly dependent on the specific knowledge of a handful of people for each key system.
To ensure a more robust and reliable approach to managing internal and external service level agreements (SLAs), Europ Assistance wanted to dynamically link business services to the underlying ICT infrastructure and thus to enable business-centric ICT operations.
Europ Assistance selected Novell® Business Service Manager as the key enabling technology for its new ITIL-based business service management architecture. The company worked with Hogwart, a leading Italian consultancy firm, to model its infrastructure in terms of the business services and to deploy the Novell solution.
"For us, the really strong point about Novell Business Service Manager is its openness and ease of integration with existing ICT services and ITIL processes," said Massimo Nichetti, Region 1 ICT Development Manager, Europ Assistance. "Novell Business Service Manager enabled us to view our existing infrastructure in terms of the business services ICT offers—this means that business comes first and ICT adapts to it, not the other way around."
The project was delivered in two phases. First, Hogwart and Europ Assistance created a service catalogue for both business and technical services. Second, the combined team deployed Novell Business Service Manager, following the recommended Novell methodology, and integrated ICT with the existing monitoring system and helpdesk ticketing system. Novell Business Service Manager can access data from the helpdesk ticketing system to present a summary of tickets across Incident, Problem and Change categories associated with each element of the infrastructure.
The initial implementation took around six months to complete, at which point all the roadside assistance services were live on Novell Business Service Manager.
"The service from Hogwart was very impressive: their technical knowledge is excellent," said M. Nichetti. "The project ran smoothly, and Hogwart delivered well within our deadline."
By creating a clear link between the components of the ICT infrastructure and the business services they support, the Novell solution enables better visibility of services, improved real-time service level control, and better prioritisation of system fixes and maintenance tasks. ICT also allows Europ Assistance to see the potential impact of planned changes to the infrastructure, reducing risk and facilitating better communication between the business and ICT functions.
With Novell Business Service Manager and its service catalogue, Europ Assistance can now clearly understand which business services depend on which hardware and software components, and can see outages in terms of the impact they will have on the business.
"Our services are very complex, and ICT was previously difficult to identify potential single points of failure, because there was no clear mapping between the infrastructure and the business services," said M. Nichetti. "Novell Business Service Manager enables us to understand in great detail the business impact of any failure or degradation of service in the infrastructure. We know which services will be affected by an outage, and we can prioritise fixes and maintenance accordingly."
The solution also enables what-if analysis to reveal potential weaknesses in the ICT infrastructure and to test planned improvements. Analysts can use a "live" sandbox that includes data coming in from the field, or a "static" sandbox for pure simulations.
"Our customers and partners understand the language of business better than the language of IT, so it's easier for everyone to think in terms of services," said M. Nichetti. "Novell Business Service Manager is helping us make our services more robust, which ultimately means more reliable support for our customers. The Novell solution also enables us to demonstrate to our business partners that ICT is managed to a very high standard in Europ Assistance."