NRB was chosen by the Magotteaux Group – a world leader in iron foundries and special steel from Liège – to provide the group’s entire IT infrastructure "as a service". The choice was the outcome of a tough competition amongst providers responding to Magotteaux’ tender.
Mrs Minh Hua, CIO of the Magotteaux Group, is quite firm: “I no longer wish to invest in hardware and to mobilise my teams to make it work and to do the maintenance. Taking into account the resources and technologies available today, we can outsource the entire IT infrastructure and its daily management and buy these components as services. That way, our IT staff can keep the focus on providing added value to our business based upon its technical expertise acquired through the development of our infrastructure, its knowledge of the company, and its sound improvement project management skills.”
Magotteaux already had an initial experience with the outsourcing of its servers. The group had been using secured hosting services from its former supplier and its server racks were located at an external data centre. But the Magotteaux IT staff was still in charge of the supervision, the maintenance of the Baan ERP and most of the interventions.
Working with NRB has added a new dimension. All these tasks are now carried out by NRB. The latter owns and manages all the servers, sees to supervision and maintenance, carries out the technical maintenance of the ERP, provides the databases and licences necessary, and guarantees the availability of all these components ‘as a service’ under a strict and ambitious Service Level Agreement (SLA). Furthermore, NRB manages the backups, and stands for data redundancy, failure recovery and the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).
The extensive outsourcing of the IT infrastructure – including messaging in the cloud – is far from obvious in the industry. Mrs Minh Hua likes to describe herself as a fast follower: “I am not keen on being the first to implement new technologies. But I try to keep pace with the market by implementing after having seen other major players adapting these technologies successfully. So we are never the first, but I nonetheless make sure that we are the pioneers in our sector of activity. Magotteaux wants to stay the leader in its field. My role consists of making sure that the IT supports innovation and helps us retain our leadership.
Thanks to the outsourcing of certain activities, I can focus the efforts of my teams on our real core business, namely providing innovative, efficient, and stable solutions fit to our foundry applications to 1,500 users while coping with constant pressure on costs.”
From a world provider of IT services to an efficient local provider
Being a worldwide organisation, with an effective presence in more than 30 countries on all continents, Magotteaux was initially not looking for a local provider. Therefore, NRB was initially even not on the list of the first addressees of the invitation to tender, but eventually still had the opportunity to respond to the tender.
After all, it is easier for a medium-sized company like Magotteaux to deal with an organisation of a similar size. This is how NRB proved convincing with an excellent understanding of the needs, a tight offer and total transparency. For the CIO, it is also very important for the provider to act as a partner: “I expect this attitude from my suppliers; I count on their expertise and their advice to be able to deliver more with less. Signing the contract is not an end in itself, it is the starting point of the most efficient collaboration possible, whereby both partners constantly endeavour to optimise the selected solution. Technologies are evolving at such a speed nowadays, that it becomes difficult for an IT department of a company of the size of Magotteaux to keep abreast. Thanks to a service provider such as NRB, we are able to keep up to date, and to improve and optimise our services regularly. As I see things, as long as the terms of the SLA are complied with, it doesn’t really matter on which infrastructures our applications run.
I count on the expertise and the professionalism of the NRB’s technicians – qualities that they already showd during the initial study and the migration – to guide me to the most efficient solutions for Magotteaux at all times. Needless to say that the fact, that NRB is located nearby makes things considerably easier. The most important thing however comes down to our constructive technical and operational contacts, a good understanding and us keeping perfectly in phase.
Migration from Baan ERP to SAP
A long time ago information technology was considered a necessary evil at Magotteaux. Things are different today: Minh Hua (formerly at GlaxoSmithKline) was recruited two years ago by Bernard Goblet, CEO of the Group, with the mission to position the IT department as a strategic business partner. In addition to outsourcing the infrastructure, Minh has already harmonised all the workstations (M@gstation project aimed at simplifying and improving the personal working environment of users), she has implemented a new, secure worldwide network, has reviewed the messaging in depth, etc. The next project is changing the ERP-application, as the current tool is no longer capable of providing the management functionalities and the reports needed to guide an international group such as Magotteaux. Mobile access to all the data and applications of the company, independently of the device used, will be the next challenge. “The centralised, scalable systems of NRB will enable us to tackle this challenge, and NRB’s consulting role will become even more important,” Minh Hua concludes.