January 2002

Swoose in on#sun.com, December/January 2002 issue

The work undertaken by Swoose at the State Rail Authority of NSW was recently published in on#sun.com magazine. Following is the article as published:

The State Rail Authority (SRA) of NSW faced the biggest test of its 150 year history last September, when the world came to Sydney to watch the Olympics.

The fact that it passed with flying colours is well known to Sydney passengers who experienced the smooth services during the historic sporting event. What train travellers may be less cognisant of - even though they are enjoying the benefits every time they board a train - is that SRA has been building upon its commitment to improve services to customers since the Olympics, and will continue to do so well into the future.

The past 12 months have seen sweeping changes to SRA's information architecture, with the end-goal of improving the services delivered by Sydney's trains.

The new design required the consolidation of SRA's monolithic server environment to a three-tier Sun server environment, comprising a Sun Fire 3800 server, seven each of Sun Fire 280R and Netra X1, a Sun Enterprise 5500 and a Sun Enterprise 450.

The three-tier model enables SRA to move application servers and databases across multiple tiers, which will improve management of the workload and improve availability of the solution. Ultimately, it facilitates better information liaison between the central servers and the remote machines at each train station.

Whereas previously a manual system was used to implement timetabling changes and alert travellers, it is now operating from the central server environment. The Sun servers are communicating timetabling and maintenance information in real time to multiple peripherals.

In addition to the server consolidation, the numerous versions of Solaris that were running have been migrated to Solaris 8 Operating Environment. It also required the migration of Novell eDirectory, SRA's principle software, to Solaris 8 Operating Environment, which was achieved through collaboration between Sun Professional Services and Novell.

The innovative architecture is setting a precedent for large-scale organisations, particularly the way storage is connected to the Sun systems via distributed locations.

Milton Baar, consultant to SRA on the project, visited the United States to research the architecture and investigate future potentialities of the hardware. Caltrans, the Californian Transport Authority, was using Sun equipment and Novell eDirectory, similar what they were doing in the to the SRA. We have taken what they were doing in the States to a new level here - it really is a new way of thinking in terms of information architecture.

The new design delivers improved reliability, scalability and availability for all applications, in a mission-critical environment.

SRA used Sun Rentals to purchase the new equipment with no impact on its ongoing costs or existing budget. The tailored financial solution has enabled SRA to confidently scale their IT requirements while reducing total cost of ownership, and, at the same time, safeguarding their technology investment.