Railroad operator uses monitoring software to monitor business-critical services
About ÖBB Infrastruktur AG
Founded in 2009, ÖBB Infrastruktur AG is the company of the ÖBB Group (Austrian Federal Railways) that is responsible for providing Austria with customized and reliable railway infrastructures. It also ensures the safe and on-time operation of railway traffic. Currently, the company employs around 16,000 workers. ÖBB Infrastruktur AG plans and implements railway infrastructure projects with investments of several billion euros per year.
4,894 km of tracks, 14,618 switches, 25,009 signals, 247 tunnels, 3,633 crossings – these few figures provide some perspective into the massive undertaking of ÖBB Infrastruktur AG. The entire rail network is inspected, maintained, and (if necessary) unobstructed by the company’s employees. What’s more, ÖBB Infrastruktur offers professional, rail-specific construction services both within and outside the Group. Sustainability is also an important issue, as hydropower is used to generate traction current. The employees of ÖBB Infrastruktur ensure the railway system is safe, on-time, and clean.
Based in Vienna, ÖBB Infrastruktur AG is responsible for keeping trains running in Austria. It plans, builds, and operates the entire railway infrastructure in the small country in the Alps, transporting 230 million passengers and more than 100 million tons of goods per year. At ÖBB, a telematics department provides business-critical services such as transmission technology, telephony, and video surveillance – via one of the largest communications infrastructures in Austria. Among other things, ÖBB relies on PRTG network monitoring software from the Nuremberg-based company Paessler AG to ensure its data network always runs smoothly.
After all, for ÖBB’s railroad operations and administrative processes to work well, its IT and telecommunications infrastructures must always be error-free. This is the task of the telematics unit, whose employees develop reliable and customized information and communications technology (ICT) solutions. Business-critical services include radio, transmission technology, telephony, information reporting systems, and video surveillance. All these services are provided via the existing data network.
Monitoring bandwidth usage with sensors
Due to the many business-critical applications, it’s of the utmost importance that the data network constantly run without a hitch. The ÖBB team therefore installed the network monitoring software PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler AG. PRTG is used to monitor the bandwidth of the main routers and switches in the data network. In particular, its SNMP traffic sensors come in handy here. Several sensors are used for each router and switch, allowing administrators to visualize the most important values regarding utilization and availability. In total, the monitoring environment is comprised of several thousand sensors that query the relevant values at regular intervals. A highly reliable and fail-safe server in Vienna processes the collected data, while a second server in Linz serves as a backup and remote probe for some of the sensors.
About ITPS AG
ITPS AG (Information Technology Professional Solutions) is an independent service company that specializes in the monitoring and surveillance of ICT infrastructures (among other things). Its experts developed SQL-IMS, a system allowing for the efficient and proactive management of business-critical applications, as well as the assurance of availability and compliance with SLAs. The network monitoring software PRTG is an essential part of this solution. ITPS AG has also developed services and tools that allow for PRTG to be integrated with various management solutions.
Ensuring usability in the future
Over time, the range of applications and the availability of PRTG played an increasingly important role at ÖBB. This in turn challenged the know-how of the employees responsible for implementing and operating the monitoring software. In its search for a suitable partner, ÖBB hired the IT service provider ITPS AG to conduct a special PRTG training course for its IT team, consisting of several workshops. These workshops demonstrated how to increase performance, improve operational security, and integrate PRTG into more of ÖBB’s network management solutions.
During the course of the workshops, ÖBB employees worked with ITPS AG experts to install PRTG on the server in Linz and import the existing data. First of all, they identified the data to be imported into PRTG from CA Spectrum, the central management system for the ÖBB data network. In the future, a specially designed import tool will transfer the devices directly into the PRTG monitoring environment, where they will be monitored with corresponding PRTG sensors. The goal here is to keep the administrative workload to a minimum.
Successful load tests
Next, the team determined the load times during various test scenarios. In the final load test, which included four simultaneous speed tests, PRTG was evaluated under real-life conditions. Using PRTG, the workshop participants monitored the load times and the CPU & RAM utilization on the PRTG server. At the same time, the employees tackled another project: providing the users of various ÖBB customers with read-access permissions for the devices that pertained to them directly. First of all, it was important to note that most of the devices could only be read by specific customers, while some devices could be seen by all customers. PRTG made it possible to configure customized access rights to grant personalized access to each party. Since it was also important to keep performance as high as possible, explicit permissions proved to be the best option for ÖBB. During the workshops, experts from ÖBB and ITPS AG hammered out the details for the import tool and the implementation of access permissions.
Together, the workshop participants had this to say about PRTG: “We had very positive experiences with PRTG in the past. Our gigantic network needs to be closely monitored at all times. PRTG not only saves us lots of precious time, but also helps us prevent costly interruptions and crashes. Thanks to the workshops with the experts from ITPS, we were able to acquire know-how that will help us use the tool both now and in the future.”
“Our “Certified Paessler Partner” status gives us away: we’re sold on the capabilities of PRTG!,” declares Thomas Wächter, CEO of ITPS AG. “The workshops at ÖBB were somewhat challenging due to the complexity of the data network, but ÖBB’s employees and our experts were more than up to the task. The know-how of our experts perfectly complemented ÖBB’s extensive experience in the operation of the data network.”
This ÖBB Infrastruktur case study makes it clear: PRTG is highly flexible and scalable, whether installed in a small, medium, or extremely large network. A dependable ICT infrastructure is vital to ensuring safe, reliable, and on-time railway traffic. ÖBB’s network management makes sure everything runs as expected in the background. PRTG plays an important role in ÖBB’s network management solution. The tracks are all clear for data traffic!