Insightful mission to illuminate Slovenia with HPE Synergy Solutions and HPE Pointnext Services
Powering new services and applications to deliver more value to energy companies and their customers
Slovenian energy infrastructure specialist INFORMATIKA is shaking up how the country’s electricity distributors are serving customers, thanks to a decision to use HPE Pointnext Services and other solutions from channel partner HC Center d.o.o. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise operated by Selectium.
INFORMATIKA d.o.o. has come a long way from being an IT department in a government-owned electricity distributor to being a full-fledged company supporting energy distribution throughout Slovenia. Now the company supports the billing processes of all Slovenian energy distributors, taking care of their customer lifecycle and enterprise management needs, and enabling consumers to monitor their power use in real time. It also operates Slovenia’s platform for exchanging electricity data between suppliers and distributors from its base in the city of Maribor.
After more than 50 years of working solely with energy distributors, INFORMATIKA recently extended its services to more clients, notably wholesale power suppliers, and is expanding solutions to include Big Data analytics and AI.
“Doing this is helping us to deliver more value to electricity companies and their customers,” says Bojan Trafela, head of INFORMATIKA’s IT system support department. “We’ve been able to focus more on developing new applications to meet our clients’ needs, and on improving their services so they can provide better customer experiences,” says Trafela.
Energy consumers across Slovenia can monitor their electricity usage in real time using INFORMATIKA’s apps, helping them to better manage consumption and find ways to save energy. Among electricity companies, INFORMATIKA ensures its digital platforms run with as little downtime as possible and that employees have uninterrupted access to billing management systems and data across all customer service operations. While the company’s existing hardware infrastructure was still highly useful, it could no longer meet the company’s business requirements and diverse workloads, which include a range of database and server applications.
“We have new applications that are demanding more computing power, more memory, and we needed new solutions to support bigger virtualization ratios,” says Boban Veljanoski, a system engineer at INFORMATIKA. “Instead of more servers, we wanted more powerful ones so we could save on license costs for virtualization, backup, and so on.”
INFORMATIKA upgraded its infrastructure with support from HPE Pointnext Services and channel partner HC Center d.o.o. It has since been accelerating its hardware virtualization, which is helping reduce downtime in electricity companies’ digital platforms. As a result, the company expects to reach 100% virtualization in the next few months, from 80% currently.
“We are aware the constant desire for progress puts IT services in an unenviable position. It must be ready to respond to new needs for IT infrastructure resources in a very short time,” said Aleksej Kranjec, CEO of HC Center. “Advancing this project was easier due to the established trust with the customer, and at the same time working with a reliable partner – Hewlett Packard Enterprise operated by Selectium – where we all played an important role, both in planning and implementing a new solution. The cooperation of all brought an understanding of needs, knowledge about technologies and possible new concepts for solutions, to ultimately meet the IT infrastructure in the future. We can only wish for such cooperation in the business world,” added Aleksej Kranjec of HC Center.
“Experts from various fields took part in the project. In the team, there were people who take care of virtualization, networks and the data solutions,” said Petar Hucman, Senior Technical Consultant at Hewlett Packard Enterprise operated by Selectium, who was in charge of the project’s management and implementation. “In addition to demanding implementation, these circumstances could bring unique challenges. But because INFORMATIKA employs people who know what they are doing, we carried out the project at the highest possible level professionally. It is a real pleasure to work with such a team,” said Hucman.
“Across all our teams, we’ve really seen the benefits of reduced complexity in our hardware infrastructure,” says Bojan Trafela of INFORMATIKA. “If you’d looked at our data center three years ago, you would have seen a lot of rack servers and mainframes. Today, it’s almost empty, with only one or two racks around. So, we now have less hardware and more compute power.” As a result, managing the data center has become so much easier. “Now, we need only about 50% of our team to do the same job of maintaining the data center,” says Trafela.
“We no longer worry about resources and can give our developers as much capacity as they need to run tests,” says Boban Veljanoski, of INFORMATIKA. Previously, his team had to carefully balance computing power it was allocating to program developers with other requirements to make sure it wouldn’t run out of capacity.
“We have now got superior performance and much larger data throughput,” adds Veljanoski. “Likewise, our new processors have more cores than the traditional ones we know. In other words, we have a reliable system to help us do our jobs well.” Aside from requiring less maintenance, the new platform has reduced the time Veljanoski and Trafela’s team spend administering their compute resources.
“In the past, it took us half a day to provision a new network, but now we can do it in minutes,” says Veljanoski. “Also, we can patch our servers faster and easier with OneView and Synergy Composer. Patching servers took us a few days before, but now it can be done in minutes.”
HPE OneView is the management software embedded with HPE Synergy while HPE Synergy Composer serves as the main appliance for managing HPE Synergy systems and keeping them running. For Veljanoski this was important as he runs the systems with only a small team. What impressed him the most was the speed of HPE support and the ability to identify issues before they cause serious problems.
“With OneView, we can generate support tickets automatically,” he says. “So that’s one less thing we have to do. If something goes wrong with the servers, we get an alert via email and somebody from HPE Support Services would quickly replace or fix whatever part has a problem.
“We’re very happy about it,” adds Veljanoski. “We can now concentrate on the more critical parts of our jobs because we don’t have to worry about our systems not working, or spend our time troubleshooting.” And with more than enough computing resources, INFORMATIKA can now provide more flexible service delivery.
“I think in particular, our extra capacity can help us provide clients with computing resources as a service,” says Bojan Trafela, head of INFORMATIKA’s IT system support department. “That’s one area we expect HPE Synergy to help us with over the medium term.”