Mutual SMI (COVEA Group)

Application Monitoring with ServiceNav

The Context

Founded in 1926, SMI is a specialist in group health and provident contracts.
mutuelle is ISO 9001/2015 certified for all its activities.
A non-profit organisation, which distinguishes it from commercial insurance companies, SMI is a member of the Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française, a key player in the health and social protection system which manages 2,400 care and support services for its members.

With its entry in November 2013 into the Covéa Mutual Insurance Group Company, which brings together MAAF, MMA, GMF and the provident institution APGIS, SMI has reinforced its position as a leader in collective social protection.

In the past, the SMI Mutual's IT department has already used several supervision solutions (Centreon or other...) without ever pushing their use and operation to 100%.

We wanted to have a more global vision: indicators but not only, an applicative view especially

The problem

So the decision was made to initiate a set of specifications: the need was there, but the solutions provided until then were inadequate. And it was this lack of efficiency in the previous choices of tools that pushed Arnaud DEMAY, the IT infrastructure/operation manager, to change his mode of action; this time, the research would start from a need, rather than a solution.

Business challenges

But what is the so specific need to find the answer only in ServiceNav? 

"We wanted to have a more global vision: indicators but not only indicators, but also an application view. We wanted to be able to see the impact on the application at a glance after an event. Especially since new projects, such as an application distributed over several servers, required us to adopt a monitoring solution worthy of the name."

"In addition, the CIO team wanted to focus on the user impact when an alert occurred. One of the criteria for successful monitoring is relevance in the information. So it was obvious that the continuous flashing of an indicator for everything and nothing, which would distort the analysis, should be avoided."

"After having defined the needs for application supervision among the members of the ISD, and having consulted the market through a call for tenders, ServiceNav was selected and adopted".

Why ServiceNav?

The Answer

Today, after integration of the solution, does ServiceNav meet the objectives?

"Absolutely. We are also preparing to extend its deployment. The solution, which was mainly based on the backoffice management part (specific development in .NET / SQLSERVER), will soon be extended to all RDS farms. Then, as time goes by, to all the elements of the IS to ensure complete visibility."

So you're going beyond the initial objectives of the project?

"The solution is rich enough to go beyond what we had anticipated. For example, we implemented VPN monitoring, which was not part of the original scope. After seeing that the monitoring templates provided by ServiceNav matched our firewall, we also implemented VPN status display directly in our offices."

"With the Covid-19 context, Coservit helped us to set up the supervision of all the VPNs: those provided by the partners and those used by the SMI Mutual SMI users, so we have a real-time vision of the performance of the VPN services".

The benefits

Could ServiceNav be a support to measure and decide on future investments?

"ServiceNav allows us to anticipate power and disk space requirements so we can use that data to forecast budgets. After more than seven months of using the platform, we're starting to get some interesting historical data for forecasting purposes."

Regarding application supervision, have you defined the metrics yourself? Have you worked in collaboration with the business departments? Are there any internal service contracts?

The ISD teams are very familiar with the applications and therefore knew the metrics to be monitored when drawing up the "application supervision" specifications, in particular the most important indicators, namely: being aware upstream of a slowdown that degrades the quality of service for the ISD's clients.

"We're currently working on availability metrics using ServiceNav: defining the relationships between the different application blocks."
"At the moment the ISD has no commitment from business services or management regarding the availability of applications. With ServiceNav we will now be able to work on this aspect and market the work of the ISD."

" I'm using (infrastructure/operations manager) the ServiceNav app on my smartphone so I know in the morning if all the apps are up and running by 8am or if there's something to deal with. "

Have you created an application map in ServiceNav with the map?

"We first created an application vision map, then a more technical map, a summary map, which is displayed in the team office and allows you to see the status of the equipment and services at a glance."

And do you share this application mapping to business services via the URL provided by ServiceNav's Dashlink feature?

"We share it internally within the IT department, because even though we know that a shared service weather forecast results in fewer user support tickets - especially with the comments that can be added - we prefer not to burden business services, who are only waiting for guaranteed availability. We share the URL if that expectation is not met."

"However, as part of this sharing logic, the ServiceNav mobile application is installed on the smartphones of several members of the management committee, who can check in real time that the availability of the IS is guaranteed.

Was SaaS in your specifications?

"Initially there was no particular desire to move to SaaS, but the management of the platform is much simpler, which corresponds well to the current operating mode, ServiceNav can be accessed anywhere, and the time saved on upgrades and the platform's MCO is undeniable.

Has ServiceNav been able to prove itself in concrete cases?

"We've already detected code issues with ServiceNav and we've seen performance degradation, and we've been able to report this to the application teams before the user is impacted.
"We also detected problems with memory leaks on the application. The solution prevented incidents by reacting very quickly. We're able to prevent them thanks to ServiceNav!"
"The orange dot on the dashboard allows you to click on it and see what's causing the alert."

"The exploded view of the weather services with the outbuildings is the one I use the most."

What are the long-term goals with ServiceNav?

"The medium-term objective is to steer the SMI Mutual towards a catalogue of services and a notion of SLA between the IT department and the business lines".

What do you think of the ServiceNav support team? 

"We are very satisfied with the support from ServiceNav's teams. They came in when we needed them. For example, we were recently struggling to integrate GLPI (= ticketing tool) with ServiceNav. The support came in and the problem was solved quickly."

Do you recommend ServiceNav?

"In a small team like ours, time is precious, we have to be efficient. With ServiceNav we gain in quality of service, visibility into the mutual's critical applications, the solution is packaged, easy to use, user friendly, shareable with non-IT users; for all this it is clearly a solution that I recommend".

"Also in terms of speed of deployment, less than 7 days to create 5 application meteorological forecasts, I've never seen such implementation times for IT supervision anywhere else than with ServiceNav; believe me, I've been in the business for many years.

We thank Arnaud DEMAY for his time spent answering our questions.

We first created an application vision map, then a more technical, summary map, which is displayed in the teams' office and allows you to see the status of the equipment/services at a glance.

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