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System Solutions Delivers Support To STIB’s IT Infrastructure

As Belgium’s largest public transport company, the Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) faces ongoing changes. The company serves a population of more than 1.100.000 residents in the Brussels-Capital region, as well as thousands of daily commuters.

STIB’s network includes 4 metro lines, 19 tram services and 50 bus routes. All together, the company employs more than 7500 staff, with 350 in the IT department, including 150 employees in the Service Delivery department that provides services to internal customers and passengers.

As the Company faces ever-growing numbers of passengers, its IT services must also respond to its users’ increasing expectations for real-time information: this means implementing self-service portals, real-time information displays, security measures, dynamic metro, tram and bus management techniques, as well as new metro operations management technologies.

The department’s director, Yves Bronchain, explains: “Our support responsibilities not only extend to corporate users of business- critical apps and telecommunications, but also to our passengers who increasingly look up their itineraries and connections on our web site, as well as their bus, metro and tram timetables on their mobile devices.” The IS Delivery Service department stands at the heart of STIB’s IT operations. It provides technical support for the company’s three pillars of IT activity: business solutions (HR, Logistics, Maintenance, Purchasing, Finance...), sales solutions, and transport solutions.

A Dynamic Environment

It is crucial that STIB’s transport and IT infrastructure run without interruptions. That’s why the IT department relies on the latest technologies. Specifically, STIB uses two data centers that house physical and virtual servers that support the entire infrastructure, including points-of-sale, administrative buildings and facilities, depots and warehouses. The Company also relies on a network infrastructure of fiber optics and copper lines that interconnects 69 metro stations and sales outlets.

STIB’s IT Division management, as it faces rapidly evolving requirements, has assigned ambitious objectives to its professional teams.

The Value of Uptime

One of the company’s key strategic goals is to align IT operations with line-of-business requirements. This means giving preference to critical applications, and focusing technology investments on priority projects. A program will, in the long term, create and dedicate distinct operating environments to critical applications.

To keep its infrastructure continuously up-and-running, the Company has decided to emphasize performance, as well as monitoring and incident response capabilities.

The objective is to achieve uptime rates of 99.85% for 24 x 7 business-critical applications, and to complete repairs within a 1/2 hr to 4-hour window.

The department is taking additional measures to increase responsiveness. Night shifts have been added, and maintenance windows have been extended from 8 x 5 to 24 x 5.

Simultaneously, the company is implementing a program that aims to increase overall proactivity...

Keeping It Simple

Another key internal challenge is to reduce IT complexity in order to reinforce the IT architecture’s robustness and flexibility.

This means using leading-edge technologies in areas, such as storage, physical and virtual servers, telecommunications networks, as well as security.

As a result, the company has selected HP’s top-of-the-line 3PAR storage infrastructure. This choice was defined and validated with the support of System Solutions’ infrastructure experts.

Interoperability between more than 500 networked servers and equipment items is ensured by a high-capacity 128 Gbps connection between both data centers, as well as 16 Gbps individual links. This allows real-time information access and data replication capabilities. The new HP 3PAR solution leverages this high-capacity network thanks to an array of high-end HP specific switches.

Service to Customers

The company also aligns IT with line-of-business requirements by implementing a proactive, customer-centric organization model.

A corporate portal supports direct interactions between internal customers and the IT department. As a unique contact point, it enables IT to respond to line-of-business requests efficiently and consistently. The portal also optimizes the use of resources to better serve customers. Sixty standard services, in particular, will become available at the end of the year.

A Partnership in Action

To meet its technology infrastructure requirements, “STIB’s policy is to favor best-in-class partners among the top three references in each market segment” says Yves Bronchain. “They must combine infrastructure expertise with flexibility and responsiveness.”

System Solutions has worked with STIB for several years to help the company implement its storage infrastructure and fiber optic network switches in close partnership with HP.

“System Solutions is an effective point of contact with our suppliers, such as HP and VMware, facilitating rapid resolution of potential problems”, adds the Director.

With its long-standing experience of the evolutionary world of information technology, System Solutions plays a key role in evaluating, testing, and validating the optimal architecture all the way to quality controls that are enforced during the implementation phase.