Rheinbahn AG

Topic : Virtualization
2500+ Employees
Networking

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“Our vehicles cover more than 48 million kilometres every year. That’s 130 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.”

Benefits

Network Scalability
Reduce Cost
Increased Productivity

Transport company gets data communications moving

Whereas many municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia are faced with falling population numbers, it is a completely different story in Düsseldorf. The state capital is constantly growing and attracts people from all different backgrounds and ages. Its current population stands at around 600,000 people. Whether they are students, politicians, business people, media experts, young families or pensioners, the residents of Düsseldorf rate the quality of life in their city as above average. And Rheinbahn, the region’s largest provider of public transport, is one of the big factors in the citizens’ feeling of well-being.
 
“We have a huge responsibility for maintaining the quality public life,” explains Johannes Huestege, IT Director at Rheinbahn AG.
 
A quick look at the figures confirms this responsibility: 716 Rheinbahn buses and trains carry up to around 720,000 passengers a day and serve a catchment area of 570 square kilometres. “Our vehicles cover more than 48 million kilometres every year. That’s 130 times the distance between the Earth and the moon,” explains Johannes Huestege. Overall, this volume of traffic puts Rheinbahn fifth in Germany’s nationwide rankings.
 

“We’ve not experienced unplanned network downtime in over 10 years. That’s just one of the reasons why we would recommend Avaya.”
 
– Johannes Huestege, IT Director, Rheinbahn AG
 

Rheinbahn

Stable network for 14 years

Maintaining an overview of the company’s operations requires reliable technology - and, above all, a powerful network enabling a constant flow of information. At Rheinbahn, this network integrates the company headquarters as well as six depots, five customer centres, the control centre and 330 ticket machines.
 
Network components from Avaya have formed the basis of the company’s metro campus network for over a decade. In particular the Avaya Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture Switch Cluster technology has provided high levels of reliability and optimum load distribution. This is one of the key reasons why Johannes Huestege ranks Avaya among the top providers of network technology. “We would certainly recommend Avaya,” he says in praise of the company.
 
The transport company has only experienced two episodes of unplanned downtime since 2000. However, these episodes were caused by external factors rather than technological issues, where diggers accidently cut through network cables during construction work in the city.
 

“The demands placed on our network have changed considerably in recent years. Upgrading to 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet is only a matter of time.”
 
– Hardy Klatt, Systems Analyst, Rheinbahn AG
 

Meeting rapidly growing bandwidth requirements

Following large-scale changes in the corporate environment, Rheinbahn decided in 2012 to modernise its metro campus network from the ground up. Even though the stability and availability of the network were strong, the switches used were increasingly reaching their limits. “The demands placed on our network have changed considerably in recent years,” explains Marcel Lellau, Data Centre Director at Rheinbahn.
 
In particular, demand has come from a need to automate processes and improve in all areas from ticket sales and managing subscriptions to customer experience. For example, Rheinbahn passengers are now informed – in real-time – about delays, cancellations and current promotions by information displays at over 3,000 bus and train stops. Rheinbahn also makes this data available to internet and mobile phone users, providing more than 16,000 daily visitors to the company’s website with the information they need.
 
In the medium term, Rheinbahn is planning to display this type of information on monitors in its buses and trains. Under these plans, passengers will always be able to see the journey time until the next stop, which connections are available, and whether their connecting train is on time. Such services are well received by customers but require resources to support them.
 
“Around six years ago, we operated something like 90 virtual servers in our data centre; now we have almost twice as many,” reports Marcel Lellau. Ten Gigabit Ethernet connectivity is already virtually mandatory; upgrading to 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet is only a matter of time for Rheinbahn.
 

“This will enable seamless introduction of technologies such as network virtualisation in our metro campus network.”
 
– Hardy Klatt, System Analyst, Rheinbahn.

As a result, Johannes Huestege’s team were particularly delighted that the Avaya VSP 9000 provides a future-proof and scalable platform that will enable gradual expansion of the metro campus network. The system is specifically designed for large company networks, offers industry-leading performance and scalability, and, as well as 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, will also support the new 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet options in future.
 
“This will enable seamless introduction of technologies such as network virtualisation in our metro campus network,” explains Hardy Klatt, System Analyst, Rheinbahn. The Avaya Virtual Provisioning Service also offers tools for managing, troubleshooting, providing and securing the virtual machines throughout the network. This enables new applications to be set up within a very short space of time, benefiting not just customers but also the company’s employees – including around 1,400 drivers – who can easily view their latest rota from the comfort of their home.
 
IT Director Johannes Huestege believes that the main factors in the smooth-running of the project were the careful planning as well as the high levels of technical and professional competence of the partner.
 

Security through distributed routing instances

During the first quarter of this year, four VSP 9000 systems have been ensuring maximum redundancy and reliability in Rheinbahn’s network core. Thanks to scalable 10 Gigabit capacity and the clear separation of the routing and access area, Rheinbahn’s data traffic will also flow freely in the future. At the same time, the new network architecture enables the total load to be better distributed. Whereas routing previously took place almost exclusively via Rheinbahn’s central data centre, today the routing instances are distributed across two redundant, geographically separate core nodes. This also prevents downtime. “If our data centre was paralysed by a fire or a central power failure, the data traffic would simply be routed via the second node,” explains Johannes Huestege.
 

“This reduces costs, shortens implementation times and prevents human configuration errors.”
 
–  Michael Tenten.

Blick in die Buswerkstatt des Heerdter Betriebshofes der Rheinbahn. Foto: Rheinbahn, Jaroslaw Miernik

A strong partnership

The new high-speed network was implemented with support from the Avaya partner. There were no unforeseen issues during the upgrade, a feat that was made even more remarkable by the fact that Rheinbahn had to replace its entire blade server and storage network at the same time due to delays in a different project.
 
In the final configuration, nine top-ofrack switches in the VSP 7000 series provide a reliable supply to around 500 connections. Avaya’s Fabric Connect network virtualisation technology also provides Rheinbahn with a comprehensive, end-to-end framework that enables continuous virtualisation from the data centre and the campus network right through to the distribution cabinet and the branch locations. Fabric Connect technology, based on the Shortest Path Bridging standard, effectively brings together all network components into a virtualised network. “This reduces costs, shortens implementation times and prevents human configuration errors,” explains Michael Tenten.
 
In the medium term, Rheinbahn is also planning to virtualise its entire network to bring further increases in efficiency. Thanks to Avaya’s next-generation, future-ready platforms, the foundations for this have already been laid.
 

Solutions and Products

  • Avaya VENA Fabric Connect technology
  • Avaya VENA Switch Cluster technology
  • Avaya VSP 9000
  • Avaya VSP 7000

“Our vehicles cover more than 48 million kilometres every year. That’s 130 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.”

CUSTOMER PROFILE
Rheinbahn AG Logo
  • Headquarters:

  • Germany

Founded in 1896 as Rheinische Bahngesellschaft AG, today Rheinbahn AG provides local public transport services for Düsseldorf, the district of Neuss and most of the Mettmann district. The company’s rail network extends as far as Neuss, Krefeld, Duisburg and Ratingen. Rheinbahn serves a catchment area covering 570 square kilometres and home to over one million residents. In 2012, 216.9 million passengers travelled on the 135 city trains, 168 trams and 406 buses belonging to the Düsseldorf-based transport company. This makes Rheinbahn the largest of the 20 transport companies in the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr transport association, Europe’s largest association covering a total of 19 cities and 7 districts.

What our Customers are saying
“We’ve not experienced unplanned network downtime in over 10 years. That’s just one of the reasons why we would recommend Avaya.”

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  • Johannes Huestege

  • Rheinbahn AG

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