Belgacom ICT leader explains how he delivers IaaS to CIOs

As CIOs move their IT strategies towards an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model they will need to know that their cloud-based suppliers have a technology strategy to ensure IaaS services are robust for end users and customers. CIO spoke to Akin Tatar, head of datacentre operations for Belgacom about his IT strategy and delivering cloud-based services to CIOs in Europe.

Belgacom ICT is the professional IT services arm of the incumbent telecommunications provider in Belgium, think of it as like the BT Global Services arm of British Telecom. Tatar explained his organisation specialises in delivering outsourced IT to global corporates operating the Belgium market and the nation's growing small- to medium-sized enterprise economy.

CIOs in Belgium, Netherlands and France, which Belgacom also serves, are also assessing the opportunities IaaS could offer their organisations and Belgacom has been quick to offer cloud based services to its customer base. Tatar explained that as the CIO for his organisations datacentre and hosting business he has had to adjust his strategy accordingly.

"I'm delivering datacentre hosting services to 200 customers and it is a tough market, we are competing against Colt and BT Global Services."

CIOs moving to IaaS are the greatest challenge to Tatar as CIOs expect their IaaS deals with Belgacom to include business availability clauses, as you would expect. So the pressure is on Tatar and his team to ensure the customer gets what he wants.

"Cost control and speed of delivery is crucial in the SME market," he explains.

CIOs that have already embraced IaaS tend to be those that are the innovative thinkers in their organisation and are driving though operational changes. Again, this throws another challenge at the CIO of an IaaS provider like Tatar.

Providing innovation, reduced costs and round-the-clock reliability means Tatar and his team need an analytical view of their operations at all times. To deliver this Tatar recently adopted AccelOps a security and infrastructure networks monitoring tool from Silicon Valley. Working with AccelOps, Tatar now has a single datacentre and IT service management tool that provides dashboard analytics to his team.

"As a leading global service provider, Belgacom must optimise resources and enhance services to extend our competitive advantage and best serve our enterprise customers," says Tatar.

"AccelOps integrated monitoring platform was selected because of its integrated functional depth, usability, customisation, implementation and scalability strengths over the other leading vendors we tested."

This will enable Tatar to optimise resources, better pre-empt issues in order to increase availability and maintain SLA commitments.

"What we most needed was a tool that would allow us to manage a complex environment. Especially when monitoring very fast components like the network layer, security applications, storage and operating systems. For example we are now able to look at the switches and see whether they are responding fast enough, so then we know that the business agreements is being respected and we can report against that agreement."

Tatar selected AccelOps after a tendering and assessment process that included major players like Nimsoft. Part of the assessment included a test deployment.

A key benefit this CIO has achieved is that Tata has been able to alter the way he deploys his staff, to the benefit of the CIO and his team.

"Staff is always an important resource and if you get it wrong it can limit the speed of development, now we can really focus our skilled staff onto development. Previously we had good experts doing the operations and that is not viable anymore, so we needed to get operations automated. The impact on how we do operations means that 70 per cent of the operations labour done by engineers is now done by the operations team," he says of the benefits the monitoring tool has delivered. He also claims his team has broken out of a silo working approach that it suffered from previously.

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