Paessler PRTG is the life blood of the EFS’s IT infrastructure in the Grand Est region of France
The 10,000 employees of the Etablissement français du sang (EFS) – doctors, pharmacists, biologists, laboratory technicians, researchers, nurses, blood drive teams, etc. – work alongside thousands of volunteers to transform donations into lives every day. Every day, 10,000 blood donations are needed (including 1,500 in the Grand Est region) to treat 1 million patients a year. As the sole civil operator of blood transfusion in France, EFS's main mission is to ensure the country's self-sufficiency in blood products.
In addition to donating blood, EFS carries out over 500 million biological procedures a year, making it France's largest medical biology laboratory. It is also involved in many other activities, such as cell and tissue therapy and research.
EFS teams welcome donors at more than 120 donation centers and 40,000 mobile blood drives, organized throughout the country each year to ensure that they are as close as possible to the donors. The sites are supported by 13 regional establishments, each with its own heterogeneous IT infrastructure. The availability and performance of the network, IT tools, and applications are crucial to the smooth running of operations in the field.
The Grand Est region uses Paessler PRTG Network Monitor to support this mission. Based in Strasbourg, Jean-Christophe Gehmert, Deputy Head of Information Systems at EFS Grand Est, explains how Paessler's solution has become indispensable to him on a daily basis.
"The software quickly won me over with its ease of use. Compared to the tedious configuration of freeware, it was like night and day, so it made sense to use it at all our 14 sites in Eastern France."
Jean-Christophe Gehmert, Deputy Head of Information Systems at EFS Grand Est
Ensuring impeccable IT service for EFS field teams
As the successor in 2000 of the Agence française du sang (AFS), which itself was formed in 1995 from a multitude of blood transfusion centers, EFS has a number of independent IT infrastructures, which are tending to come together over time. This was the case with the birth of the Grand Est region in 2016, when EFS, as a public establishment, needed to pool its IT assets. At the time, PRTG was only used in Alsace, but was gradually deployed across all infrastructures in the Grand Est region.
Jean-Christophe Gehmert remembers: "When I took up my post at EFS Alsace in 2013, I was unfamiliar with PRTG, but the software quickly won me over with its ease of use. Compared to the tedious configuration of freeware, it was like night and day, so it made sense to use it across all our 14 sites in the Grand Est region."
The main task of the various EFS Grand Est sites and their 900 employees is to collect blood products, prepare and distribute them mainly to hospitals, and sometimes to dispatch them at extremely short notice.
This is a vital role where lives are often at stake, and IT malfunctions cannot be tolerated. Proactive monitoring of networks and IT infrastructures has therefore become essential in order to anticipate potential failures rather than suffer their consequences, while ensuring continuous performance.
Comprehensive monitoring that leaves nothing to chance
While EFS does have a national IT infrastructure, including a data center at its Saint-Denis headquarters in the Paris region, a Citrix system to distribute applications throughout France, and a CISO to manage security and deal with cyberattacks, the regional branches are responsible for overseeing many IT elements.
In the Grand Est region, this is the case with VMware physical and virtual servers, SQL and SharePoint servers, switches, routers (fiber and 4G), UPS, Talend ETL, storage peripherals, computerized links with business lines or PLCs, websites, workstations, building access badges, cameras, dynamic screens, telephony, and the backup server that ensures business continuity in the event of failure of the main server. All in all, 4,500 sensors were deployed throughout the region, using Windows and Linux operating systems.
Jean-Christophe Gehmert says: "It's simple, we monitor everything that can be monitored, which is why PRTG is now the control tower for our IT management. In fact, the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is check the PRTG app on my smartphone to make sure that everything has run smoothly overnight, and that no sensors show an error. And when I'm on call, I can receive push notifications to be alerted at night or at weekends. Once back in the office, we can check exactly what happened, thanks to the comprehensive incident reports and logs provided by PRTG."
The 12 people who make up the EFS Grand Est IT department use PRTG with its various functionalities daily. Starting with PRTG maps and dashboards, which enable all sensors and processes to be monitored in real time from end to end, with the possibility of easily showing the results to the relevant business departments.
sFlow monitoring enables them to take this visibility a step further by retrieving data traffic statistics to identify the heaviest bandwidth users, for example, and intervene if necessary. Automation scripts are also used for specific processes such as access rights.
The IT department of EFS Grand Est relies on PRTG to be more proactive and manage major malfunctions more effectively. Thanks to monitoring, network and business application unavailability has been significantly reduced in recent years, enabling better service for users of IT tools, whether they are nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians, or support staff (buyers, lawyers, HR, drivers, etc.).
Jean-Christophe Gehmert concludes: "The level of satisfaction among our users is very good, as we see every year during evaluations, but we'd like to go further by setting up SLA (Service Level Agreement) commitments and thus obtain measurable and tangible indicators. We'd also like to create more transparency for the business, like a ‘service weather forecast’, and PRTG should be the right support for this. All in all, we can say that the solution relieves us of many time-consuming tasks, enabling us to concentrate more on our core business and on higher value-added actions. All the more so as Paessler regularly upgrades PRTG with new functionalities. Frankly, we'd be hard-pressed to do without it today."
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