Using APIs to boost communication and engagement

A new, systematic approach to exchanging data with its partners is helping GRTgaz to encourage innovation and collaboration

At a glance

GRTgaz wanted to move from an existing solution to Google Apigee: to increase its agility by giving its partners secure access to business services and intelligence. Partnering with Atos, this sensitive migration was achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic.

Outcomes

  • A more structured approach to using APIs for data exchanges
  • Immediate savings on the licensing costs of the old solution
  • Seamless transition to the new tool
  • Enabling 33 different data flows and four key business applications.

 

“The excellent communication between the Atos and GRTgaz teams, their commitment and their complementary skills were the real catalysts for success.”

Pierre-Marie Couthouis, Operational Lead for APIs and Data Exchange, GRTgaz

GRTgaz is a European leader in natural gas transmission and a world expert in gas systems. In France, the company operates more than 32,000 km of buried pipelines to transport gas from suppliers to consumers connected to its network (managers of public distribution services that provide gas to municipalities, power plants and over 700 industrial sites).

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Agile response to the global energy revolution

As a leading European gas transporter, GRTgaz is at the very heart of the transformation in the energy industry. In this rapidly evolving landscape, agility is key.

Which is why GRTgaz realised that it needed to use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in a much more systematic way to facilitate exchanges between the producers and consumers of its data, as well as to encourage greater collaboration and innovation.

One of the key stages in this process would involve secure exchanges between the Internet and its existing systems, by replacing an existing tool with Google’s Apigee. This offered the same overall functionality as the previous solution, but would also open up a much wider range of options and deliver a better user experience.

Remote teamwork is the answer

This purely technical ‘swap’ had to be completely invisible and painless for the business. So the goal was a seamless ‘lift and shift’: a migration that delivered identical functionality without the slightest interruption or degradation of service.

It involved a total of 33 data flows, from mobile employees’ laptop connections on the one hand, to four business applications that provide sometimes mission-critical exchanges with external partners on the other. The business case for the project was also dependent on not renewing the licenses for the existing solution, so the work had to be completed before the end of 2020. Under close scrutiny not just from the IT Department, but also the business, there was no option for the timing of the project to slip.

Convinced by the expertise and experience in Apigee that Atos was able to demonstrate, GRTgaz was about to start the project in Spring 2020, when the Covid19 pandemic and lockdowns turned everything upside down. Everything had to be organized accordingly, by putting in place appropriate tools and access arrangements, with particular emphasis on the quality of communications.

Building trust was essential, especially with the need for remote working. The teams from Atos and GRTgaz showed great commitment to the project, and kept in contact every day: with accurate, regular operational and monitoring information flowing back and forth. This allowed everyone to push ahead successfully, at a sustained pace, towards their shared goal.

Transcribing the functionality of the existing tool exactly into Apigee demanded the greatest care and attention. Atos applied all its methodological rigour to this work: firstly in identifying the rules and security controls currently being applied (as the available documentation proved inadequate), then working out how they were being implemented and, finally, transposing them. In many instances, the two tools each had their own logic, which necessitated specific developments.

Immediate ROI with zero disruption

Thanks to the excellent osmosis between the teams – in spite of the unusual circumstances – and everyone’s responsiveness whenever an unexpected difficulty arose, the development phase was completed in early September 2020.

A very rigorous testing campaign followed, in close collaboration with the business, which finished at the end of November. The switchover finally took place in December, on schedule, without incident or disruption.

In the process, the old tool was decommissioned and its licenses were not renewed: immediately delivering the anticipated ROI. Alongside the technical project, Atos provided skills transfer to ensure that the GRTgaz team of architects and experienced developers could subsequently look after the new solution autonomously.

The success of the project, and the experience GRTgaz acquired as a result, will help with its continued programme of moving to APIs around Apigee.

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