Patrick and NTT ICT switch portside operations to hyperconverged in under a month
Patrick Terminals, is Australia’s leading container terminal operator, moving more than 3 million TEUs every year through its high-tech ports around the country. Patrick was demerged from parent company Asciano, one of Australia’s largest listed enterprises at the time, in 2016.
- Ageing, complex blade-and-SAN infrastructure
- Unwieldy data footprint
- Building a full production system from scratch within 14 months post demerger
- HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI)
- Disaster recovery between sites
- Rapid implementation in less than a month
- 6TB of critical application data reduced to 100GB
- Easy management through existing vSphere console
- Zero downtime, zero issues during and after installation
Ageing infrastructure and a growing data footprint.
After around 6 years of operation, Patrick’s underlying blade-and-SAN infrastructure had begun to show its age. IT staff were not only encountering slowdowns in application performance – some caused by the terabytes of data used by the platform – but also struggling to manage the complexity of handling more and more environments within the outdated system. The team recognised that at some point, these issues could quickly escalate into either a critical applications outage or an inability to service future 24/7 stevedoring requirements.
“We run some of the most advanced automated ports in the world, but these front-line systems need to be virtually immune to downtime and latency if they’re to continuously deliver business value,” says Adrian Sandrin, CIO of Patrick. “We needed an infrastructure model with the high availability, redundancy, and disaster recovery to handle the rising IT needs of automation and other technologies – one that wouldn’t buckle under the pressure of rapid increases in volume or variety of demands.”
Patrick believed that hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) could ensure smooth sailing as they continued to digitise their operations, allowing them to both consolidate their infrastructure and move workloads between hardware in a fast, stable manner whenever the need arose. With numerous options on the market, however, they turned to NTT Communications ICT Solutions (NTT ICT) to guide them to the right platform.
“NTT ICT played a major role in helping us separate our IT systems during the Asciano demerger – provisioning and building our production systems from scratch within 14 months – and their honest approach to service delivery and pricing has really earnt our trust,” Sandrin says. “They’ve consistently shared the responsibility on all IT matters and worked flexibly with us through all manner of scenarios, and we thought it prudent to tap into their extensive network before we made a choice on HCI.”
HPE SimpliVity, implemented at unheard-of speed
NTT ICT advised Patrick to adopt SimpliVity, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s HCI platform, based on the robust disaster recovery and data reduction capabilities that it offered. “Patrick needed to simplify their onsite infrastructure, which any decent HCI platform could do, but they also required a high standard of resilience and backup within the equipment itself that only SimpliVity could provide,” Julie Barbieri, General Manager, Infrastructure Solutions of NTT ICT says. “You’re essentially looking at some of the fastest, simplest software running on best-of-breed HCI hardware.”
“In one case, they had to mirror data between their portside and main-building IT sites on the one port – up to a kilometre from each other – with less-than-reliable links between each site. SimpliVity’s Disaster Recovery-in-a-box capabilities could insure even these instances without compromising current and future performance.”
The sheer ease of installation, coupled with NTT ICT’s expertise in logistics IT and its team’s familiarity with Patrick’s business, saw the SimpliVity platform go from planning to implemented in less than a month – with no issues encountered by the stevedore’s IT team whatsoever.
“This was a timeline we had never seen before, and for NTT ICT to achieve it was nothing short of impressive,” says Sandrin. “A lot of that comes down to the quality of the SimpliVity platform –the ability to process and manage the real-time operation of numerous 70-tonne auto-straddle carriers with minimal latency and zero outages – but NTT ICT’s solution architects deserve credit for both understanding that technology and aligning it to our relatively complex, high-stakes needs. And they did so at an extremely affordable price point – so much so that we were able to purchase additional SimpliVity hardware that we initially expected, allowing us to add the extra levels of redundancy to the system that we’d always wanted.”
Easier IT with much less data
Installing the SimpliVity HCI brought with it much more than just enhanced disaster recovery and application performance. In NTT ICT’s hands, the platform’s compression and data deduplication capabilities slashed Patrick’s data footprint in one instance from 6 terabytes to a mere 100 gigabytes – resulting in a wide range of flow-on benefits to application management and availability.
“Backups, and more importantly, restores now take seconds or minutes instead of hours,” says Kevin Windsor, IT Technical Services Manager of Patrick. “Our applications have become far more reliable and accessible to users across different ports and other divisions. And it’s far easier to protect our critical data from a cybersecurity standpoint than before. A much less data-heavy infrastructure means much more agility and far greater room to grow into new capabilities or physical sites, without adding extra burden to our relatively small IT team.”
NTT ICT’s solutions architecture also ensured that Patrick’s IT team could operate its new infrastructure out of the existing – and familiar – vSphere console, minimising the amount of “human downtime” that would otherwise come from upskilling on a new platform. “Running the whole stack out of vSphere kept things consistent for the team, knocking out one of the big factors that often delays digital transformation – the time taken to acquire and master new skills,” says Barbieri.
“NTT ICT’s approach to infrastructure renewal resulted in zero downtime for our operations, and zero friction in terms of teething issues and user acceptance,” Sandrin says. “In one instance, we were able to migrate our automated gate systems – one of the linchpins of our portside operations – to the SimpliVity hardware with absolutely no downtime or outage to the business and the external trucking community.”
Despite its reputation as a digital leader in the stevedoring industry, Sandrin still harbours ambitious plans for further transformation, including major refreshes to the company’s Terminal Operations System and smarter handling of containers with sensors and optical character recognition (OCR) software. SimpliVity’s real-time, low-latency infrastructure will keep these future digital innovations afloat – even as NTT ICT helps Patrick maintain its course towards being the lowest-cost stevedore in the marketplace.
“We’re already talking to NTT ICT about harnessing a range of technologies they’re already working with – things like GPS resolution algorithms, , robotics, and even quantum computing to assisting in optimising our equipment even further,” Sandrin reveals. “For us, IT only exists to serve the business, and NTT ICT not only understands those business priorities but can call upon all manner of solutions and partnerships to achieve them with us. They’re a truly agile partner in every sense of the word.”
ABOUT NTT ICT
NTT Communications ICT Solutions (NTT ICT) provides network, infrastructure, security, cloud and managed services to Australian companies who care about quality. Our team of local experts and engineers help companies decide which solution will best suit their business and deliver bespoke tools and services to make it easier for them to operate and innovate. We help companies expand into Asia and globally, leverage their legacy IT and transform into next generation solutions and
reduce complexity and risk.
NTT ICT is a wholly owned subsidiary company of NTT Communications, one of the largest ICT companies in the world. Our offerings are backed by the company’s worldwide infrastructure, including the leading global Tier 1 IP network, the Arcstar Universal One™ VPN network, reaching 196 countries/regions, and over 140 secure datacenters worldwide.