Keen to allow its clients to concentrate on the core of their businesses, IT service provider and integrator Sopra Steria has just joined forces with Arcadiz to provide an end-to-end solution for IT platform management with a commitment to results and guaranteed performance and availability as part of a rigorous service level agreement.
Until recently, Sopra Steria had one data centre in Nossegem (hosted by Colt) and another on its own site in Louvain-la-Neuve that it used for its external IT infrastructure management service. "We totally renewed our infrastructure in 2007 but, given the fast pace of technological developments in this domain, it was time for another full upgrade, especially in terms of security," says Michel Schrevens, Data Centre Manager at Sopra Steria. Likewise, as part of the BCP (Business Continuity Plan), Sopra Steria needs to be able to intervene in its data centres in less than an hour, in order to conform to the ISO 27001 standard for information security management systems.
"Finding a new site to replace the one at Louvain-la-Neuve was not easy. We had to ensure that we had optimal connectivity and were able to offer a very high bandwidth and minimal latency periods, less than 2 milliseconds," adds Michel Schrevens. Furthermore, the cost of the internet connection was a major factor, as was the desire to ensure maximum independence vis-à-vis the different operators and Service Providers.
"This project also aligned with our desire to provide a long-term solution for managing infrastructures, which our group now considers to be a strategic domain, especially given that our clients are more and more demanding. By letting us manage their infrastructures, clients can concentrate more on their services," explains Régis Roba, Head of Financial Services and BU Director Managed Services at Sopra Steria.
At the end of a market study that lasted nearly a year, Sopra Steria decided to transfer its entire infrastructure from Louvain-la-Neuve to a new Cofely data centre in Gembloux. A subsidiary of the GDF Suez group, Cofely offers a data centre at the cutting edge of technology as far as security, energy efficiency and networks are concerned. In addition, a partnership was forged with Arcadiz to ensure the interconnection between the infrastructures hosted at the new Cofely data centre and those at the existing data centre in Nossegem. "Arcadiz is specialized in neutral connection and providing the transport layer between data centres, with all the services in terms of safety, continuity of activity, mirroring, encryption, etc.," explains Robert Danon, Key Account Manager at Arcadiz. He adds that Arcadiz can guarantee the performance of connections by selecting the optimal optical routes.
In addition, the solution provided by Arcadiz allows Sopra Steria to offer particularly high-speed internet connections, as the new infrastructure is connected to two tier 1 internet networks in Belgium (and the same with Luxembourg).
And the icing on the cake is that the Cofely data centre is very energy efficient, both in terms of electricity consumption and cooling.
So from now on, Sopra Steria's two data centres are interconnected, with a lot of spare capacity, by optical links that transmit a set of high-speed connections (Ethernet and Fibre Channel), as well as two connections — also high-speed — to access the internet from Arcadiz's POPs. "In view of the diversity of our clients’ needs, we wanted to offer them maximum flexibility. The partnership with Arcadiz aligns perfectly with this strategy of maximum independence," stresses Régis Roba. This is particularly important given that Sopra Steria's clients in the Benelux are primarily in the banking and utilities sectors. "To ensure the management of banking transactions, which involves thousands of transactions being processed every minute, it is vital to have an active-active system and an extremely effective network with very high availability," emphasizes Régis Roba, who talks of 'five nines' SLAs (that is, 99.999% availability). Besides, Sopra Steria can now offer a SOC (security operations centre) for its banking clients, as well as a service protecting against DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) on the internet.
"We are delighted with the proactiveness and the availability of Arcadiz, especially compared to the other large providers that we spoke to," adds Michel Schrevens. He explains that the project was completed in barely 12 months, though it was originally scheduled to take 18. "It was also all within budget," notes the Data Centre Manager.
"We can now offer our clients two data centres that are completely independent in terms of constructors and operators as part of our end-to-end solution, guaranteeing optimal performance with cutting-edge security, which is a major differentiator on the market," concludes Régis Roba. He underlines that the capacity of Sopra Steria can serve Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia equally well.