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Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) deploys Red Hat

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Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB, Swiss Federal Railways), Switzerland’s national railways company, has deployed Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as the cornerstone of its IT modernization program.
With Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, SBB has created a scalable and more agile platform for its application development, and is delivering new services, including an updated mobile application, to better serve the millions of passengers who travel via SBB each year.
Founded in 1902, SBB is not only the largest travel and transport company in Switzerland, but it is also among the biggest employers in the country. SBB’s operations span four divisions – passenger traffic, freight, infrastructure, and real estate. In 2015, SBB’s network of nearly 10 500 trains carried more than 50-million tons of freight and more than 440-million passengers between 794 stations.
SBB prides itself on offering not only modern trains and amenities, but also other services and IT systems that can meet evolving customer expectations. However, its traditional IT systems were struggling to cope with the pace of innovation happening across the sector, and limited SBB’s ability to quickly launch new provisions and modifications based on customer needs.
SBB recognized the potential of digital services and mobility, and customer expectations among its passengers for applications, leading it to embark on a project to improve application development with a modern and agile platform that would not compromise system stability, speed, flexibility, performance, cost-effectiveness and innovativeness – all of which are central factors for SBB.
As SBB undertook its IT modernization program, it wanted to deploy a modern and flexible IT platform that could place it in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitization and help it better meet growing customer expectations in these areas. SBB had prior experience using enterprise-grade open source solutions, leading them to the decision that an open source, container-based architecture would be capable of complying with its requirements.
Container-based architectures provide flexibility over traditional monolithic infrastructure, as applications are packaged into a container with only the required operating system components. This increases flexibility and portability across architectures and also allows for increased scalability as business demands evolve. Recognizing the benefits it offered, SBB selected Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as the basis of its modern IT platform.
Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is the first and only container-centric, hybrid cloud solution built from the Docker, Kubernetes, Project Atomic and OpenShift Origin upstream projects and based on the trusted backbone of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform provides a more secure, stable platform for container-based deployments without sacrificing current IT investments, allowing for mission-critical, traditional applications to coexist alongside new, cloud-native and container-based applications.
After selecting Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform in autumn 2015, SBB began a pilot involving 15 projects in January 2016. Once the pilots kicked off, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform’s popularity among developers and project managers led the scope of the pilot to more than triple in a short period of time.
Today, 300 users at SBB use Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, with more than 900 containers in service and approximately 400 deployments every day. The SBB Mobile app has been downloaded more than 7,5-million times since its launch in 2008, and the latest version, launched in 2016, has attracted more than 3-million regular users.
The app, built on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, enables customers to buy tickets and access a touch timetable, receive real-time information on arrival and departure times, and receive push notifications and reminders from SBB’s travel companion.
For SBB, key benefits of its new solution include its stability and fault tolerance. The new container-based platform has not only given SBB the modern IT platform it sought to create new digital offerings, but it has also resulted in tangible benefits for how SBB’s developers work. SBB’s developers and operations teams are able to act independently, helping SBB to achieve more agility and speed in its application development. With Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, they can make modifications to individual elements on the live system without impairing the stability and functionality of the overall system.
Baltisar Oswald, software architect of Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB, says: “We recognized that the rapid pace of innovation across the rail sector could no longer be managed with a traditional IT structure and required a flexible, scalable platform which offered us fast development options without disrupting our live systems. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, with its container-based architecture, provided us with the innovation potential we required, in addition to operational stability and efficiency improvements across our infrastructure. Thanks to the deployment of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, we have reduced our running costs by approximately 50%.”
Ashesh Badani, vice president and GM: OpenShift at Red Hat, comments: “The work at SBB is an impressive testament to the high-performance of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform when it comes to replacing old IT platforms which can no longer meet modern requirements. With the incredible pace of innovation intrinsic to open source technology, deploying Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform offers users added confidence that their solutions can meet their needs not only today, but also well into the future. We are thrilled to accompany SBB on its path through the new application economy.”