Railway Telecommunications is the largest organizational unit of the Slovak national railway company, Železnice Slovenské republiky (ŽSR). It provides a wide range of IT and telecommunications services, including management of IT modernization and development to help maximize investments and enable ŽSR to effectively fulfil its mission. Railway Telecommunications draws on many years of experience, has its own optical network covering the entire Slovak Republic and holds the ISO 9001: 2015 certificate. In addition to ŽSR, Railway Telecommunications provides IT and telecommunications services to other organizations in both the private and public sector.
From ŽSR’s point of view, Hyper- Availability means Always-On functionality of all systems and readiness of IT support staff to quickly resolve any potential issues. The lapse of any system or application may interrupt the provision of ŽSR’s services and increase the risk of security incidents. Due to the importance of rail transport for running the state as well as the and the everyday life of citizens and companies, the emphasis on ensuring constant availability at ŽSR is mission-critical. The company’s original datagovernance solution only partially met these demanding requirements and therefore brought issues, particularly regarding massive virtualization, existing storage technology, the amount of data being processed and the overall governance complexity. So, it was necessary to choose a new solution that would meet the expected recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives as well as eliminate the existing complexity. The new solution would need to provide all of this in the form of easily manageable, universally applicable and modern technologies.
ŽSR is responsible for, among other things, building, managing, maintaining and operating railway infrastructure, providing services related to the operation of railway infrastructure and establishing and operating railways, telecommunications and radio networks. ŽSR employs over 13,000 people and the total length of national and regional routes operated or managed by ŽSR covers almost 3,600 kilometers.
Railway Telecommunications Bratislava is the largest organizational unit of ŽSR and the quality of its services, including the continuous availability of key systems, has a direct impact on the fulfilment of state policy for railway transport.
Railway Telecommunications’ central data centers, server farms, services, businesses and other specialized workplaces are located all across Slovakia so that they can quickly and efficiently satisfy the information and communication needs of their most demanding customers. The company has also has an optical network with connection to the peering centres of SIX, Sitel and foreign partners in the surrounding states, including the Czech Republic.
ŽSR’s information architecture encompasses over 50 physical servers with hundreds of virtual machines (VMs). All of this is divided into two data centers in two different geographic locations. Railway Telecommunications provides direct services within ŽSR to more than 8,000 client computers in total. Critical applications include SAP, Oracle Database, MS SQL Server and MS Exchange.
“With virtualization technologies we can be flexible enough, but effective backup and recovery are the foundations of success. Our primary storage was not fully compatible with the original availability solution, and we have had a few problems due to unforeseeable issues that have caused the loss of a few virtual machines in the past. Given the other issues encountered with the previous solution, we made the decision to use other technology. After carefully examining a wide range of options, we chose Veeam Availability Suite”, explains Matěj Samel, who is responsible for Microsoft and VMware systems at Railway Telecommunications Bratislava.
When looking for a suitable solution for ŽSR, Railway Telecommunications tested several technologies, but Veeam was deemed to be the best solution for meeting the high demands at the level of service provided. The powerful interconnection capabilities between Intel and Veeam technologies also played a key role. Veeam Availability Suite, used in combination with HPE StoreOnce and six HPE 3PAR 8200 storage bases, fully covers VM data availability, which represents 99% of all operating environments. In total, Veeam technology protects several hundred virtual servers and dozens of TB of data in two geographically separate locations. In addition, some backups are automatically tested and do not require manual authentication by administrators.
The entire project was implemented by Railway Telecommunications itself in just three to four months, with the consulting services of a Veeam-certified partner available if needed.
In Railway Telecommunications, Veeam Availability Suite is primarily used in combination with HPE products, HPE StoreOnce 50TB VSA and six HPE 3PAR 8200 storage bases, which play the role of local and offsite backup storage.
“HPE technology is as high-quality as Veeam technologies, and thanks to the strong partnership of both companies in the field of extraordinary business availability, we have the certainty of long-term investment protection and support for further development”, Matěj Samel said.
“Previously, the backup of a single virtual machine took us an average of 20 minutes. Now we can manage it in just three minutes – that’s six times faster”, said Matěj Samel.
“Veeam technologies are the only ones able to meet the high demands of our SLAs. It is also important that Veeam Availability Suite is compatible with all of our existing applications and saving solutions. Veeam gives us the resources to easily and efficiently backup and recover the hundreds of virtual servers that we have. Thanks to this we save a lot of time and energy, which we can devote to improving the services we provide. Veeam technologies unambiguously help us to provide transport as one of the prerequisites for the smooth running of the state and the everyday lives of citizens and companies”, said Matěj Samel.