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Virtual engineers could transform IT outsourcing

Stephanie Overby | Sept. 1, 2014
Before Marcel Chiriac took over as CIO of Rompetrol two years ago, the European oil company's IT sourcing strategy had swung back and forth between total insourcing and total outsourcing. And both models failed.

Deploying 'Virtual Engineers'

Using traditional technologies, it would have taken months to document and get control of all the assets being transferred, and Chiriac had less than three months to do it.

Chiriac had worked with IPSoft, a provider of autonomic technologies for IT services, in the past. He asked them if they could help him meet his tight deadline, and they said they could.

IPSoft installed its IPcenter platform to quickly gather information on the IT operations environment, enabling Rompetrol to make preparations to secure the infrastructure that sat in multiple data centers on hundreds of servers across complex networks scattered across several countries. "If we had to do it manually, it would have been a huge effort," Chiriac says.

IPcenter also provides what are essentially "virtual engineers" as the first line of resolution for infrastructure issues. These IT service robots "enable our networks engineers to understand quickly what the network is composed of. They can find out fast if a database is reaching capacity or a virtual environment is not working properly," says Chiriac. "They can't fix the problems, of course. This isn't science fiction. But it enables our engineers to solve a problem quickly."

Over time, Rompetrol has reconfigured the programming behind its team of virtual engineers to set more nuanced thresholds for what constitutes an infrastructure issue.

Within the first month, more than 2,000 items, such as servers and switches, were being managed via the automated solutions, including Rompetrol's more than 750 gas stations. Since the switchover, there's was a single outage at the very beginning. IT's operating costs have decreased 27 percent since adopting the new sourcing strategy. And Chiriac's team has been able to shift focus from cost control to optimization.

The new outsourcing strategy should serve the company in the near term, says Chiriac. "We'll continue, with tight contract control, reviewing each supplier every two to three years."


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