Helping our People, help our Customers

I joined HomeServe as Chief Information Officer just over four months ago, and so far, as well as getting to understand the superb, People-first culture all across the business; I've seen some game-changing transformations in terms of our IT infrastructure.

We've been working with one of our key technology partners, DellEMC for ten years now, and so I was really excited to learn that, based on the delivery of our most recent solutions, we had been invited to speak at Dell Technologies World, their innovation user forum in Las Vegas.

I thought this would be a great time to talk to James Blower, Infrastructure Manager, who has overseen some of the crucial changes alongside our relationship with DellEMC.

Tell us a bit about your day-to-day responsibilities at HomeServe and some of the solutions you've been working on alongside our core IT systems.

My role is really quite varied; as HomeServe's Infrastructure Manager I look after servers, storage and network at HomeServe. I also manage our Cloud platforms as well as Wintel and Midrange Support teams, making sure that we keep the lights on at HomeServe but also having the freedom to build and deliver new projects and technologies.

One of the most impactful projects we've worked on recently has been to replace the TSM backup solution (of over 3000 tapes), with DellEMC 'Data Domain' which is an encrypted disk-based backup. This has helped reduce our backup recovery times from a matter of days, to just hours. Our implementation of Data Domain has led us to be shortlisted for, the Business Continuity CIR Awards, showing just how far we've come in a short space of time!

We've been through a period of bad weather recently, it's really tested HomeServe, how has our infrastructure helped our People to help our Customers?

During the recent bad weather we actually hit record call numbers, and in fact took a month's worth of calls in a week. This is something that would have previously put real strain on our systems, however, as we now run a faster all-flash array, and no longer rely on tapes, our systems performed really well and crucially we operated without seeing a spike in IO or an increase in latency. We noted during debrief, that we could have actually handled twice as many calls before seeing any strain on the infrastructure.

Can you tell us about the partnership with DellEMC? And how they've helped us really deliver for our Customers?

The work we have done with DellEMC recently has seen some exciting developments with HomeServe's IT infrastructure. A great example is the recent migration of our core claims handling system to DellEMC 'Xtreme IO' all flash array. Our Call Centre Agents take inbound claims calls and so the work they do is essential to help our Customers, every day. The results have been impressive! It's helped to significantly reduce our average call handling times, not because our call centre staff are getting faster, but because our systems are faster and they are able to help our Customers more efficiently. This is because ‘screen to screen’ operations which used to take minutes, now take seconds.

What are you most excited about for the future of HomeServe's IT infrastructure?

HomeServe is a really exciting business to be part of, we are investing in IoT through things like Leakbot, smart thermostats and connected boilers, and I love that we're always looking at ways to innovate for our Customers.

Working in technology, you always need to look forward. I am most excited about how we are continuing to drive our digital IT transformation. I've seen the performance and resilience of HomeServe's infrastructure grow rapidly, but importantly, for the right reasons, to give our Customers the best possible service,. Enhancing the flexibility and scalability of our infrastructure and cloud solutions is the next logical step for us, and one that we're all excited about working with DellEMC to achieve.