Havas Group is in the midst of a two-pronged business transformation strategy. The marketing communications company is moving away from the traditional server room and consolidating its global operations so its business in almost every of the 144 countries where it operates is together in the same major city.
In the UK, the server rooms at the British branch of Havas were bursting at the seams. The company turned to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to produce a more effective alternative at its new offices in central London.
"We've just moved about 1,600 people into a single building, bringing 19 agencies into one location," says UK IT director Alan Ward. "We've moved to a converged infrastructure thanks to HP.
"Performance is fantastic and HP continues to support us and advise us in what we need to do and how we go forward."
The flexible capacity services that HPE offers lets customers scale up and down as required in a consumption-based payment model deployed on-premise. The company is marketing itself as a one-stop data shop for customisable stack-agnostic services encompassing public, private and managed cloud options suitable for all business requirements from local to global.
The Havas IT team had their own vision of their future data storage setup. While other vendors offered a solution in a box off the shelf, HPE promised a more customised alternative.
"We started our journey in [September] 2015, looking for a suitable integrator or manufacturer, and we had a very good idea of what we were looking for," says Ward.
"Initially we gave all of the vendors the opportunity to respond with what their recommendations were. A number of vendors really didn't react to that very well, whereas HP did, and HP were flexible enough to work with us and adapt as we gave them more information.
"HP defined through a number of different iterations how best to achieve what we wanted to do, and that really for us is our own private cloud."
Havas completed the migration in January. The company now has one data centre in north London and another in west London where it keeps all of its agency data.
The foundation of the new setup is the HPE 3PAR StoreServ flash-optimised data storage system, which is designed to handle unpredictable workloads. Solid state drives (SSDs) designed for data storage and solid state memory help Havas operate as a shared service to its clients.
Havas combines HPE’s Operations Orchestration unified automation platform, the Flexible Capacity infrastructure service and its Cloud Service Automation deployment and management software to provide adaptable services usually purchased through external suppliers. The HPE offering was also attractive for its compatibility with the needs of Havas' existing clients, such as Telefonica and IBM.
"We can offer our agencies the ability to ramp up and ramp down whenever they want to," says Ward.
"Scalability has been the biggest bonus that we've seen. Effectively what we've got at the moment is not dissimilar to what we had before, because all we've done is integrated all of the agencies into our infrastructure. The key thing for us has been around scaling and the ability for us to provide long-term archive storage, instantly available."
The next stage for Ward and his team is to migrate away from excessive or ambiguous expenditure on shadow IT but still give developers options suitable for their individual environment.
He also plans to integrate into the Havas finance system so that not only is the company empowering its users’ ability to purchase, but also showing them how much it's costing in comparison to other vendors.
"We’ve got 19 companies in one building now and I’ve got a lot of developers who have a credit card who will go out to Rackspace, AWS, Azure, they'll go out and buy it and we end up paying for it," he says.
"One of my justifications for this whole project was based around what are my shadow IT costs and what am I spending, and I had a huge investment in Rackspace. Now I've got the links into Azure and I can give my devs actually a choice, I can say to them it's going to cost you this amount to do it this way.
"The key thing is that I can give my users a choice."