In 2014, we decided to establish a representative office in St. Petersburg, Russia. The entire IT infrastructure of the new Nostrum Oil & Gas PLC office had to be built from scratch. At the same time, the IT infrastructure had to guarantee the highest levels of reliability and fault tolerance, and key IT services had to be configured and scaled easily and quickly.
Choosing a partner and basic IT requirements
Nostrum needed an IT partner with strong expertise in both Windows-based and Linux-based solutions. The potential partner was expected to have a proven track record of successful cooperation with foreign companies and the ability to interact effectively with foreign IT services in accordance with international standards.
In addition, the potential IT partner had to provide guaranteed, rigorous IT service (SLA), more rigorous than the average on the market. This concerned, in particular, the availability of basic IT services (files, email, etc.). Employees of our company needed constant access to up-to-date data on the work carried out at the deposits and to the results of geological exploration, as well as access to general documentation regarding tender procedures. Good email service and remote access to files were no less important — our employees and experts needed to be in touch at all times. Finally, our potential partner was expected to have an office and/or a partner network in St. Petersburg. The ALP Group met all of these requirements, and we signed a contract with them for the provision of ongoing IT service.
In July 2014, ALP Group created a reliable and fault-tolerant IT infrastructure for us. Our partner conducted a comprehensive compatibility check and installed all of the necessary hardware and software from VMware, Netgear, Acronis, Microsoft, Fortinet, and Open-E (Linux-based). The ALP Group was also responsible for the uninterrupted operation of equipment and software, and, of course, for the opening of the company's office in St. Petersburg on time. As part of its ongoing IT support, the ALP Group also assumed responsibility for the quality of all services and the prevention of malfunctions and downtime related to IT (by preventing IT incidents, etc.).
In November 2017, the ALP Group helped us move our IT infrastructure to the data center. As a result, we managed to solve urgent issues related to server-room access, cooling, power supply, and unnecessary downtime connected to scheduled maintenance or complicated IT incidents. The move was carried out over four holidays and had no effect whatsoever on employees' work. For example, thanks to the well-conducted configuration of Internet links and optimal hardware settings, users did not notice any changes, even when exchanging large files.
Feedback on the project to move IT infrastructure to the data center
The ALP Group, together with us and an expert from the data center, drew up a clear plan of action for all parties involved and described every 15 minutes of work. Everyone knew what had to be done, who had to do it, and what was needed to perform each individual task. This allowed us to prevent mistakes, as well as to ensure that we had sufficient materials, tools, and human resources. The plan included detailed descriptions not only of all of the project's stages, but also of all of the risks (for example, changing requirements or possible damage to equipment during transportation), as well as how to avoid them.
Not every IT company prepares and provides such a detailed plan for moving IT infrastructure. Many of them believe that it is enough to develop a perfunctory statement of work, but this is, of course, unacceptable for us. Thanks to the successful transfer of IT infrastructure, we were able to launch all business processes on time and without disruption. Moreover, we even managed to cut costs on IT resources by 10%, since we no longer needed troubleproof power supplies or a system for monitoring temperature and humidity. All of these systems were provided to us by the data center.
Innovative IT solutions
Since November 2016, we have been using an innovative solution from the ALP Group based on open-source software. This is Argus, a service for the centralized monitoring of the "health" of our IT resources. Argus helps the ALP Group's team preemptively solve up to 80% of IT incidents and problems. In addition, it helps us optimize the planning of IT resources. Proactive work allows Nostrum's programs and equipment to operate as efficiently as possible, without errors or failures. Furthermore, the nature of our business is such that the discovery of new deposits can lead to an urgent need for a large amount of free space to store terabytes of new data. This need cannot always be predicted in advance. Argus helps us cope with this problem, as well — with respect to purchasing enough equipment, properly planning such purchases, and, most importantly, accurately calculating the budget.
Development of successful cooperation
In 2018, we plan to reorganize our backup system using Microsoft's DPM 2016. This solution allows users not only to store important corporate data safely, but also to restore it immediately if necessary. We also plan to transfer copies of the most critical information to the cloud (Microsoft Azure) to protect against modern threats (file-encrypting viruses, etc.).
We highly appreciate the ALP Group as a competent IT partner with good organizational skills in addition to strong technical expertise. In addition, they use a systematic approach to developing technology to support business processes. We would like to emphasize the high professionalism of Roman Bezruchenok, an IT manager who always offers truly optimal solutions and adopts a customer-oriented approach. We recommend him as an experienced coordinator of IT projects who can convincingly and effectively speak with customers not only in the language of IT, but also in that of business.
About the customer
Nostrum Oil & Gas PLC is an independent oil and gas company that develops several fields, produces oil and gas, and explores and develops oil and gas fields in the Caspian Basin. Nostrum has been allowed to trade on the London Stock Exchange. In addition to Russia and CIS countries including Kazakhstan, Nostrum operates in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK.