Estra’s customers expect consistently high levels of service. But with night-time IT processes sometimes over-running to clash with customer-facing operations, it was hard for the company to deliver.
The company joined forces with IBM Premier Business Partner Uno Informatica S.r.l. to implement powerful new IBM server and storage technology, for faster IT processing and improved performance.
Boostscustomer retention and appeal to new clients by raising and maintaining service levels
Slashesbusiness risk by ensuring that overnight processes are completed well ahead of time
50 percentfaster invoicing, improving cash flow
Business challenge story
Tackling the challenges of rapid expansion
Energy and utilities companies face immense pressure to keep services flowing around the clock, no matter what. For Estra, failing to deliver a reliable supply of energy could irreparably damage customer satisfaction and dull the company’s competitive edge.
Following a period of rapid expansion, Estra found that increased business volumes were threatening its ability to deliver always-on service—putting the company at risk of damaging customer satisfaction.
Pasquale Guigliotti, Chief Information Officer at Estra, elaborates: “As our customer base grew each time we acquired a new company or branch, so did the volumes of information that we collected and processed. Invoicing, which is one of our core processes and carried out nightly, escalated especially quickly.
“With larger volumes of invoicing data to manage each night, processing times grew to the point that invoicing operations often continued through the morning, when our branches’ daytime, customer-facing operations begin. This, inevitably, started to cause delays, disruptions and frustration, and we realized that we urgently needed to find a way to accelerate invoicing times to protect our levels of service during the day.”
He continues: “We identified that the storage component of our IT environment was no longer suitable to satisfy our business expansion goals. To achieve better performance, we needed faster storage—this would enable more timely and reliable customer service, leading to higher customer satisfaction.”
Designing a powerful solution
Having decided that investment in IT was integral to successful growth, Estra designed a roadmap to define its strategic objectives—latest-generation storage, a more suitable server environment, and improved infrastructure security—and chose IBM as its technology partner.
“Right from the start, IBM was our vendor of choice—having worked successfully with IBM in the past, it was a very natural decision,” notes Pasquale Guigliotti. To obtain expert support through each phase of the implementation, the company joined forces with IBM Premier Business Partner Uno Informatica S.r.l, The partner has specialties in both IBM Power and Storage solutions, which are recognized by IBM, and a local presence in Tuscany.
After analyzing the IT infrastructure and Estra’s technical and budgetary requirements, Uno Informatica proposed a solution based on IBM Storage and IBM® Power Systems™ technology.
As a first step, Estra worked with Uno Informatica to transform its storage environment, deploying two IBM FlashSystem® 900 devices to provide ultra-fast performance for the company’s most essential workloads, and an IBM Storwize® V5000 device to increase storage capacity. Estra connected the new IBM Storage technology to three installed Storwize V7000 devices using new IBM System Networking SAN Fibre Channel Switches, which helped establish redundancy in the storage area network.
Secondly, the company installed an IBM Power System S822 server running the IBM AIX® operating system, integrated with an existing IBM Power Systems server to support the company’s business-critical business management systems, including its SAP ERP application landscape.
Finally, Estra implemented IBM Spectrum Virtualize™ Software for SAN Volume Controller, which allows to dynamically allocate storage resources to increase performance.
“We were very happy with the support and expertise that Uno Informatica provided throughout the implementation,” says Pasquale Guigliotti. “They managed to design an effective solution that aligned with our budget and made use of our existing technology. This project was a bit of a leap of faith for my team and I, and we really did not expect to achieve the amazing results that we have obtained so far—the IBM technology is surpassing our expectations.”
Delighting customers, driving growth
With the new solution in place, Estra can effortlessly accommodate its growing number of customers and look forward to further expansion in the future.
“The IBM solution has greatly elevated the performance of our business management systems, increasing processing efficiency,” comments Pasquale Guigliotti. “In particular, we have accelerated the invoicing process by 50 percent, which helps us achieve faster payments to improve our cash flow and overall profitability.”
Critically, Estra can now consistently close its night-time processes, including invoicing, much more quickly than before.
Pasquale Guigliotti continues, “Now that our daytime operations are protected from delays with help from IBM solutions, we are able to deliver much greater service continuity—translating into happier customers. By reducing the risk of interruptions to service, we can stand out from our competitors, better retain existing customers and increase our appeal to potential clients.”
The IBM solution has also unlocked greater productivity for Estra’s IT teams, as Pasquale Guigliotti explains: “What’s more, enhanced IT performance and more efficient processing, such as reduced backup times, means that our employees are free to focus more on value-added tasks. For example, the IBM storage solution requires much less administration effort but also adds to our capabilities, helping us optimize use of resources.”
Pasquale Guigliotti concludes, “More efficient processing and swifter invoicing with IBM technology has enabled us to accommodate our growing customer base and build a strong foundation for future expansion. The IBM solutions help us offer timely and reliable service, which delights our existing customers and attracts new ones.”
Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Prato, Italy, Estra S.p.A. is a utilities company that primarily serves the regions of Tuscany and Central Italy. Employing approximately 600 people, the company provides an array of services, including the supply and distribution of electricity, natural gas, propane gas and communications services.
- IBM Power Systems S822
- IBM-SAP Alliance
- SAP ERP
- Spectrum Virtualize