The Business Challenge
Mobility has a major impact on the quality of life of the city’s inhabitants and on
the economy of the metropolis itself. In Milan, millions of people travel every day
to work or to school, to the center or the suburbs, crisscrossing the vast area of the
metropolitan city in all directions and at all hours of the day and night. Women and
men who, because they can count on reliable, punctual public transport, are able
to leave their cars and motorbikes at home and thus spare their fellow citizens the
levels of congestion and pollution those vehicles would generate, with a decisive
impact on traffic and the environment, and consequently on livability.
In this scenario, data availability plays a decisive role for ATM, which operates one
of the most complex public transport systems in Europe. The information that
regulates activity planning, resource and infrastructure maintenance and billing
services for a system active 24 hours a day cannot be subject to interruptions or
errors. The organization of both underground and surface transport would run
haywire with negative impact on the customers and the whole territory.
“Not only is ATM constantly evolving,” said Renato Stucchi, Chief Technology Officer.
“For years now, users have been able to purchase travel tickets using an app and we
recently introduced the use of contactless cards to access the transport systems.”
The payment system for parking, bike sharing and entry to Area C (the restricted
traffic area in the city center) and to Area B (the biggest restricted traffic area in Italy,
whose boundary is defined by thousands of camera-monitored entry points, which
ATM manages on behalf of the Milan Council, also involves exchanging data with thirdparty
environments integrated into ATM’s systems. An example? “Field operators
check whether vehicles have valid parking tickets using devices that interface with our
systems,” Stucchi continued. “If the data is not available, payments can’t be verified
and fines can’t be issued, which entails a significant financial loss for the City Council,
added to a potential poor service provided to citizens.
Millions of transactions and information to memorize, process, transmit and
store over time that must be adequately protected in order to be used.
That is why ATM’s technology choices make it such an innovative organization.
The data center infrastructure on which every process is based comprises a primary
site located at the central office and a remote business continuity site: an almost
completely virtualized environment based on VMware and composed of around
600 virtual machines, in which approximately 150 TB of data resides. A vital asset,
which requires an advanced and intelligent management platform to keep the
organization’s complex operations up and running. In a word, Veeam.
The Veeam Solution
The wide adoption in ATM’s data centers of virtualized environments meant that
a solution had to be found to guatantee data availability. An innovative vision able
to guarantee ATM operational continuity 24/7 and thus maintain the livability
standards that the inhabitants of Milan expect from their public transport company.
The use of Veeam Availability Suite is fully in line with ATM’s earliest adoptions of
Veeam solutions, a technology the transport company recognized as pioneering
back in the days of the first virtualized environments. “We tried other tools but none
of them satisfied us the way Veeam Availability Suite does,” added Paolo Tunesi,
ATM’s Head of Systems Management and Development. “It’s a platform that doesn’t
require agent installation, and it’s fast and easy to manage, which has allowed us to
focus on the data backup and recovery processes that are crucial for the availability
of our systems.”
In companies that are increasingly data-centric, data availability is a factor that is
often taken for granted. The reliability with which ATM data can be recovered in
the event of problems has impressed operations personnel. “It was apparent in
the case of a failed security update that compromised the transmission protocols
for some payments,” continued Tunesi. “Thanks to Veeam, we were able to quickly
restore a cluster of application servers and get the services back up and running
correctly, which enabled us to avoid negative consequences for our business and
allowed us to quickly restore the service, to save several working days and to avoid a
considerable economic loss.
Complex organizations like ATM that are undergoing digital transformation
constantly face the challenge of reconciling innovation and business continuity,
of integrating next gen technologies while keeping the whole system running. For
an organization which has to guarantee that millions of passengers can travel to
work or to school every day, arrive at their destinations and return home on time,
failure to achieve that balance is simply not an option. Here Veeam fulfilled all
expectations. “We are responsible for guaranteeing the functioning of transport and
connections in a metropolis like Milan,” confirmed Stucchi, “so it’s essential that we
invest in effective solutions.” In IT, anything that represents an opportunity has to be
balanced against maintaining what is already in operation, taking into account the
available workforce. “We have to mediate between change and keeping everything
that guarantees operability fully functioning. In that regard, the introduction of
Veeam had a positive impact on our organization.”
And at ATM, the future is already part of the present. Data centrality and availability
are the cornerstones of its current strategic and industrial plan: every resource saved
or recouped thanks to digital transformation will be reinvested in environmental
sustainability, with projects that range from upgrading the lines to totally replacing all surface vehicles with electric buses. “We have a staggering amount of data available
which we’ll be able to exploit, directly and indirectly, to continue to improve our
services and those of third parties,” concluded Stucchi. “Which is why data availability
and the use of Veeam will be even more decisive in the future.”
- Data availability ensures the efficiency of the public transport system.
Having data always available ensures ATM maximum operability and enables
online services such as payment by contactless cards. An efficient system that
secures the customer loyalty of the city’s citizens and contributes to sustainability.
- Data-based services and transactions are always-on
ATM also manages the Milan City Council’s car parks. Veeam protects services in the
event of downtime and prevents significant financial losses for the public purse.
- Cost savings contribute to environmental sustainability projects
At the center of the company’s strategic plan are ecological transport and ever
more reliable services based on data availability.