Saudi Geological Survey drills down with analytics

SGS deploys Nexthink IT analytics to improve security and service to users

Tags: IT analyticsNEXThink (www.nexthink.com/)Saudi ArabiaSaudi Geological Survey (www.sgs.org.sa)
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Saudi Geological Survey drills down with analytics Al-Nakhbi: SGS required more insight into users, particularly mobile users, to manage their IT services.
By  Mark Sutton Published  January 16, 2017

For the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), technology has become an integral part of its mission to provide geoscience information and services for the Kingdom, from enabling staff to connect in the field, to providing complex GIS systems and databases.

The SGS, an independent entity attached to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and based in Jeddah, is responsible for a wide range of activities, including mapping, mineral exploration, and geological and hydrological surveys, for the public and private sector. SGS plays a vital role in helping to map the country’s natural resources, as well as assisting in management of hazards and threats from the environment.

Eng. Sameh Al-Nakhbi, manager of Network Systems Section, SGS explained SGS’ role: “The activities of SGS cover a wide range of strategic and applied earth science topics, with an emphasis on understanding the geologic, economic, and engineering factors that affect sustainable management of mineral and groundwater resources, detection and mitigation of earthquakes, protection and management of the environment, and safe development of engineering and construction sites. Our team of experts and trained professionals regularly consult the government and the community on earth sciences, utilizing advanced technology to produce geoscience information, and to develop sustainable mineral and water resources. It is our role to protect the environment and monitor geohazards to secure a better life for our people and SGS is very proud to actively support the Saudi Vision 2030 for the future,” he added.

SGS has deployed a number of information technology solutions to help support its operations. These include a large number of databases and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which are a key part of the data which is used by SGS personnel and its clients.

“GIS is our core business! Every day our end-users analyse spatial information, edit data in maps, and share the results of all these operations. GIS data is leveraged in our engineering, planning, management, transport/logistics, insurance, telecommunications, and business applications. In addition, SGS works with many agencies, universities, and exploration companies in the goal of serving our community and customers to create a healthy environment,” Al-Nakhbi added.

Equally important to SGS has been enabling its staff to access their applications and data while in the field. With teams of geophysicists working in different roles across the Kingdom, giving them mobile access has become a major task for SGS, and today the organisation has over 300 mobile users, accessing mission-critical applications such as SAP, LEMS (laboratory application), Outlook, fleet management, and local and in-house developed applications.

Managing these different capabilities and requirements, and the large number of applications, had created a growing load on SGS’s IT infrastructure and also its IT management capabilities. In addition, many mobile users were a virtual private network (VPN) to connect remotely, which provided additional security, but complicated troubleshooting issues for individual users.

SGS realised it had a need for a solution to manage the workload and demands on its IT network. The agency selected Nexthink’s end-user analytics solutions, and after conducting a proof of concept, deployed the Nexthink solution which manages endpoints, network load, end-user visibility and other functions. SGS also rolled out Nexthink modules to manage security, web and cloud, and the integration toolkit module.

Al-Nakhbi commented: “Previously, we had no visibility from the end-user perspective. We have a large and diverse group of end-users covering our activities throughout the Kingdom. Without Nexthink, when there was an issue, we couldn’t find out what exactly was going on in a timely manner. For example, when end-users reported bottlenecks, slowness or other unknown issues, we had no easy way of drilling down to find the cause, or to verify if other end-users were experiencing the same issues.

“Nexthink provides the necessary visibility of our IT infrastructure and endpoints, from the end-user perspective. We now have real-time access to factual data in the form of IT Analytics, to make smarter business decisions and our IT team can easily discover the root cause of any problem much faster than before,” he added.

With real-time data on each employee, their devices and device usage, the IT team is much better equipped to tackle any issues or problems. Better visibility also means better security, as the team can see the status of devices, whether they have the latest patches installed or not, and so on. The system also allows SGS to verify end user and admin accounts, and to receive instant alerts if malware or abnormal behaviour is detected on any device.

Al-Nakhbi said that the solution also helps improve IT operations in a variety of ways, including better software licensing and inventory, optimization of printers, and ensuring the best end-user experience from the critical business applications when they are in the field. Nexthink was also very useful in managing SGS’ Windows 10 migration project, he said, to verify end-user satisfaction before, during and after the migration.

The Nexthink solution will also support future projects, he added: “We are currently working on a data center migration project and we will continue to optimize and standardize our IT environment with the help of Nexthink. We have just seen the demo of the new Nexthink End-User Feedback module and this is something that we are excited about trying in our environment to provide an even better level of service to our end-users.”

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