Decrease Your IT Complexity to Increase Your Insights
In a lot of ways, BH Telecom is more than just another telecommunications company. Originally founded in 1992 during the collapse of Yugoslavia, it holds the distinction of being the first company to offer GSM, 3G, and IPTV services to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It began life as a corporation owned by the government, but it eventually went public in 2004—giving stockholders both governance and ownership rights in the process.
BH Telecom has expanded enormously since those early days. We’ve grown to an organization with over €260 million in revenue. As is true with other rapidly growing organizations, our team realized that consolidating our infrastructure was no longer a recommendation, but a requirement.
I work as a coordination expert at BH Telecom. My days are focused on networking, working with cloud services, and software utilization. Our company offers many different services to customers, including mobile, internet access, and television services.
With the vastness of our service offerings, our infrastructure began to hinder our ability to provide the best services to customers. Not only did we have many different platforms, but we also had different devices to think about, different people managing those devices, and multiple data centers for several disaster recovery scenarios.
While that infrastructure was all necessary, we were hardly in a position to utilize it in an optimal way. By far, the biggest challenge we dealt with was the multiple data centers. BH Telecom as an organization was increasingly forced to contend with very complex and error-prone deployments of multi-tiered applications. Simply put, we could no longer depend on this infrastructure.
And when IT problems arose internally, our environment was too complex to quickly troubleshoot the issue. The complexity impacted every part of our business.
We wanted to add new services to meet customer demand and have an active design on all data centers with robust disaster recovery services. But with increasing complexities and inefficiencies, consolidation would be our only option.
With our vision in hand, the next step was to bring that vision into a cost-effective reality. Our exploration was made easier by our partners at Verso. Verso was an invaluable aid during an extensive six-month exploratory phase.
As we explored the options to minimize the complexity of our data centers, Cisco ACI emerged as the clear winner. Software-defined networking would help us maintain consistent policies to deploy and migrate applications seamlessly. Another major selling point was Cisco’s open ecosystem.
After an initial proof of concept phase, we knew we were on the right track and that ACI could be rolled out completely. Once it was, we quickly started to see the changes.
Speed and Visibility
Even in a short period of time, we’ve already seen impressive results. First, we have sped up the process of configurations dramatically. Thanks to ACI, not only do we have consistent policies across data centers, but we are also dealing with a smaller number of templates when deploying new applications. Having too many policies becomes unwieldy rather fast if you aren’t careful.
There are templates for most of our applications that have already been tested and implemented. Whenever there is a new application, we just roll it out. All the testing has been done so we don’t have to spend time worrying about it.
For our service desk team, ACI and Tetration analytics have led to greater insight than ever before. We can see application latencies, network latencies, and the difference between the two. When the service desk receives a call that there’s a problem with an application, they’re no longer lost. They can clearly see if it was a problem with the database, the network—or something else entirely. This puts us in an excellent position to treat the disease, not the symptom, so to speak.
Before this project, from the moment we found out we had an issue with an application, it would generally take three to four hours to understand the problem. Flash forward to today, and the same resolution can be achieved in as little as five minutes.
On the security front, Cisco’ Tetration lets us see problems and network flows in a far more efficient and logical way than we have ever had access to in the past.
For those unfamiliar, Cisco Tetration is a platform that offers holistic workload protection for multi-cloud data centers. It does this by enabling a zero-trust model by assuming that all traffic, regardless of location, is a threat until it is authorized, inspected, and secured. Network access is then segmented and strictly enforced so users have access only to those resources they need to perform their jobs on a daily basis.
This approach, coupled with the visibility and analytics that inspect and log all traffic internally and externally, has put us in an incredible position to identify security incidents faster. We can contain all instances of lateral movement, and reduce our attack surface exponentially.
More than anything, Tetration helps us with ACI management and data management at both of our data centers. It has been an invaluable gift to get insight into each location, to see problems and network flows in a real-time and immediate way, and to finally be in a position where we can act proactively.
A Better Place to Work
Cisco ACI has had the biggest impact of all on our team. Some of our development teams have 40 people on them, all tasked with providing the best services for our customers. Because we have fewer templates to work with, asking an operator to deploy a new service is no longer a complicated affair. All new applications are textured similarly, so you can have between 5–10 templates and all of the various scenarios you might be dealing with are covered.
With our straightforward configurations, our team is tremendously excited about the new directions we can take our IT. A simplified environment means fewer headaches for everyone.
BH Telecom is constantly moving. Our position is always changing and we are regularly adding new products and services for customers. Because we can move faster than ever before, my team can enable our company to adapt to our customers’ needs. I guess less truly is more.