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With a total of 260 lines, the KVV – Karlsruher Verkehrsverbund – contributes significantly to the urban development of Karlsruhe and its surroundings.
The so-called Karlsruhe Model was launched in 1992. Traffic experts define this as a two-system tramway in which trams and trains are linked. The light rail trains can run on the contact wire voltage of the tram (750 volts DC voltage) and also on the railway (15,000 volts AC voltage). In this way, trams, S-Bahn and regional trains can merge and even be extended far into the surrounding countryside.
With gridscale, we were able to realize our existing infrastructure setup without any problems and were able to complete the project in record time due to the platform’s user-friendliness and the team’s quick reaction time.Maximilian Obenaus, Head of Digital Passenger Information, KVV
The Karlsruhe public transport network requires a lot of information for its passengers. For 15 years now, the transport association has been offering timetable information on the web. The growth in the number of users has accelerated in recent times, above all due to the rapid spread of mobile devices. Queries are now growing exponentially, doubling every two years.
However, this has costly consequences for the operator and his IT organization: every few years new, additional servers have to be added in order to withstand growth. In addition, there are more and more additional requirements for timetable information functions, such as accessibility and real-time information with geolocalization at every stop.
In the last few years it has become increasingly clear that the operation of the timetable information system with its approximately 12 million queries per month can hardly be managed on one’s own. But it’s not just the journey planner alone that challenged the team led by Maximilian Obenaus, Head of Digital Passenger Information. Other systems are connected to the information systems, such as several ticket apps, some passenger information displays at bus stops, and, most recently, extensive real-time data processing.
The team realized quite soon that they needed a new and completely different solution that was both completely detached from the existing infrastructure and guaranteed maximum flexibility. “Our requirements for process flexibility differ greatly from what is common in other industries,” emphasizes Maximilian Obenaus. “Local public transportation and thus also access to timetable information is subject to extremely strong fluctuations.
This means, for example, regularly occurring peaks due to rush hour traffic or annual festivals and events in the region, which lead to an enormous increase in the number of passengers and thus in the number of requests for timetable information. Added to this are unforeseeable fluctuations due to weather conditions or closures, diversions and much more. From an IT point of view, high peak capacities have to be taken into account on the one hand, while on the other hand it is often unknown when which additional resources are needed.
In traditional data center infrastructures, this problem is solved by storing as much IT capacity as possible. However, this solution does not make sense when budgets are tight. The cloud, in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offered by the infrastructure provider gridscale from Cologne, is the better option here. Because only cloud computing offers an elastic allocation of IT capacities and, at the same time, cost-effective billing: You pay for what you use – sometimes more, sometimes less.
“We wanted to go to the cloud to avoid having to rethink the dimensions of the IT infrastructure at regular intervals,” explains Maximilian Obenaus. He clearly sees the advantages on the cost side, since investment costs are eliminated on the one hand and operational costs are limited to the resources used on the other.
In addition, the previous solution no longer seemed adequate with a view to future IT projects. Among other things, the transport planning tool of the Karlsruhe Transport Authority (VBK), the Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG) and the KVV will be relocated to a more efficient environment. In addition, a commuter app is being developed that requires a special backend. Furthermore, the high service level with 24×7 availability and an optimized security concept was important to KVV. In this way, server failures can be avoided or at least quickly rectified by copying an image.
For the selection of an infrastructure provider, Karlsruher Verkehrsverbund examined the offers of various german providers and created test accounts in order to be able to assess the user interface and handling. “After all, gridscale convinced us the most,” says Obenaus. “The references speak for a lot of experience and the uncomplicated communication was particularly pleasant.
Above all, the high cost transparency of cloud computing and the simple mechanics of data backup ultimately convinced the management.
Meanwhile, the Karlsruhe transport association is a passionate cloud user, nobody wants to go back to the tedious times of the self operated servers.
“With gridscale, we were able to realize our existing infrastructure setup without any problems and were able to complete the project in record time thanks to the platform’s user-friendliness and the team’s quick reaction time,” says Maximilian Obenaus, praising the service provider. “Only a quarter of a year has passed between the conclusion of the contract and the start of the solution, because the day-to-day business had to be continued in parallel, of course. We’re also faster in everyday routines, because new servers for new applications are added in minutes and configured within a few hours.” For Karlsruher Verkehrsverbund, the path is therefore only forward, in the direction of further cloud innovations.