Norwegian State Railways

2500+ Employees
“Fabric Connect is logical -
it’s the way networks should be.”
 
—Ivar Stormo, Senior advisor, IT Operation, NSB
 

Benefits

Network Scalability
Increased Productivity

RAPID TRANSIT A WAY OF LIFE AT NORWEGIAN STATE RAILWAYS

It’s not just the additional performance and resilience of the Avaya VENA Fabric Connect technology that impressed Norwegian State Railways: the speed of the transition, which took just half an hour, was equally stunning.
 
Everyone knows that installing a new network is disruptive – and almost everyone accepts there will be a period of downtime they need to plan around. But just as it’s tearing up the rulebook for network design, so Avaya Networking is changing the rules for implementation too. In literally half an hour, Avaya partner IPnett completed the transition from the Norwegian State Railways (NSB) conventional network to a brand new design leveraging Avaya’s Fabric Connect technology – to the delight of Ivar Stormo, senior advisor, IT Operation at NSB. “It was better than watching TV!” he recalls.
 

The Network Behind the Networks

Such a swift migration was essential for NSB; its communications network runs the essential applications that support passenger and freight rail networks across Norway. From ticket machines to train monitoring systems that ensure safe, on-time operations, dozens of mission-critical tools rely on the network to be available at all times. Even half an hour of downtime required painstaking planning and forecasting. But with the clock ticking, and the client – in the form of Ivar – watching, the transition was ultimately seamless. It was everything that Ivar had hoped, and more.
 
“I have been a customer of Avaya and IPnett for a long time,” Ivar explains, “and we knew we had come to a point where our legacy network and equipment would have to be upgraded or completely replaced. We needed to increase capacity and resilience, and we also wanted to have an infrastructure that was more agile and easier to change. IPnett had recommended the Avaya VENA Fabric Connect technology some time ago, but even though it was based on standards it was a new technology, and we wanted to be sure that migrating wouldn’t disrupt our operations.”
 
Those concerns were put to rest when Ivar attended an industry event in Nice, France. There, on screen in front of hundreds of people, Avaya engineers conducted a faultless live migration to Fabric Connect: Ivar and his team were convinced that this was something that they needed to seriously review.
 
Fabric Connect makes use of the Shortest Path Bridging protocol to route traffic between these sites. Shortest Path Bridging has been standardised by both the IEEE and the IETF, and – as the name suggests – it always take the shortest route from one node to another. That helped with the migration, as the network configured itself instantaneously as new nodes were added, but more importantly ensures improved performance in the long term, with subsecond recovery in the event of failure of any individual point on the network.
 

"We needed to increase capacity and resilience, and we also wanted to have an infrastructure that was more agile and easier to change. IPnett had recommended the Avaya VENA Fabric Connect."
 
—Ivar Stormo, Senior advisor, IT Operation, NSB

Planned to Perfection

Of course, it’s not just technology itself that guarantees a smooth migration: rigorous planning is also essential. Working closely with Ivar and his team, IPnett began planning in December 2012 for a migration in March 2013. At that point, Switches in NSB’s two Data Centres would be replaced with an Avaya Virtual Service Platform 9000, as would systems in the company’s Head Office, to create a fully integrated four-site virtualised network.
 
“IPnett dedicated a couple of highly skilled experts to our project,” Ivar confirms, “and they developed very detailed plans and a clear process. Everything was transparent, and when it came to the change itself, it simply worked: the team had full control at all times.”
 

The Way Networks Should Be

Since that transition, NSB has enjoyed 100% availability on its core network, in addition to the increased capacity. Ivar declares himself wholly satisfied with the quality of the Avaya solution – particularly in terms of the simplicity it has brought, significantly reducing the configuration burden in the Core. “While the new network is more technically sophisticated, it’s much easier to understand the way it’s set up. Fabric Connect is logical – the way networks should be. That helps our technicians explain things to our customers in a way they can understand.”
 
Those customers are the individual business units within NSB, such as passenger rail, freight and bus transport. With the new infrastructure in place, creating and managing separate virtual networks for the different units, or even teams within those units, is radically simplified: instead of having multiple touchpoints, network configuration and segmentation is initiated only at the Edge, and only on those devices directly involved.
 
Maintenance too has been transformed. Formerly, change had to be scheduled in a short window when the rail network was at its quietest, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Now, it can take place at almost any time, without needing to be scheduled in advance.
 

Extending the Fabric

Given the overwhelmingly positive experience, it’s no surprise that NSB has already extended its Fabric Connect network. From the original scope, it encompasses 12 active nodes, with additional Avaya Virtual Service Platform 7000 and Avaya VSP 4000 Series products being installed at the network edge. Planning is already underway to further extend Fabric Connect to all major NSB sites – increasing the agility, efficiency, and resilience of NSB’s infrastructure.
 
“Right at the start,” Ivar concludes, “we did a cost-benefit analysis of whether we should upgrade or go for a new network. We went for the new one, and over the next seven or eight years, we’ll see plenty of benefits.” With the increased simplicity and reliability of the Fabric Connect solution, those benefits are already being realised.
 

 
“While the new network is more technically sophisticated,
it’s much easier to understand the way it’s set up."
 
—Ivar Stormo, Senior advisor, IT Operation, NSB
 

Challenges

  • Implement a new Fabric Connect network without disrupting essential operations
  • Plan a full migration, starting with the data centre and extending to other sites

Value Created

  • 100% availability and increased capacity in the core network
  • Simplified maintenance and management – rapid configuration end-to-end connectivity
  • Easy to add extra nodes at the edge
  • Main migration took place in just half an hour

 

About Norwegian State Railways

Norges Statsbaner AS (NSB) is the Norwegian state railway operating company that runs the majority of passenger and freight train services in Norway. It is a commercial entity of the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications.
 
 
 

CUSTOMER PROFILE
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Norges Statsbaner AS (NSB) is the Norwegian state railway operating company that runs the majority of passenger and freight train services in Norway. It is a commercial entity of the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications.

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“While the new network is more technically sophisticated, it’s much easier to understand the way it’s set up.

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  • Ivar Stormo

  • Norwegian State Railways

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