Ansaldo Energia improves service through monitoring systems with almost zero downtime. Based in Genoa, Italy, the company builds and services power generation equipment globally. It moved systems to VMware Cloud™ on AWS, enabling them to run from anywhere in the world and generating a 30% ROI.
Powering the world for over 160 years
Founded in 1853, Ansaldo Energia builds and services power generation equipment, including power plants, gas and steam turbines, generators, and nuclear facilities. It employs about 3,500 people across the world and has its headquarters in Genoa, Italy.
These systems represent critical infrastructure to the communities they serve, so constant availability is vital. Ansaldo Energia and its customers require comprehensive monitoring capabilities to identify potential issues in the infrastructure before they cause outages.
Between 2018 and 2020, Ansaldo Energia invested heavily in its own smart factories as well as in processing capabilities for data coming from more than 200 connected power plants belonging to customers. The company’s central IT team operates from a shared services center in Genoa, and one of its most important roles is to guarantee the availability of monitoring and diagnostic systems, enabling round-the-clock access for approved users.
Ivan Monti, head of ICT infrastructure and operations at Ansaldo Energia, says, “We’re committed to giving our customers real-time access to data on plant operations. In certain cases, we’re contractually bound to provide service continuity, even in the event of shutdowns caused by extreme weather.”
Ansaldo Energia’s monitoring services ran from on-premises data centers. To avoid impact to the business, the company wanted to move services to the cloud, where they wouldn’t be bound to one physical location.
The familiar face of the cloud
Ivan Monti and his team saw that they could improve service levels by moving monitoring systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, they were keen to retain interoperability with other on-premises services running on VMware vSphere. This continuity would also allow Ansaldo Energia to make the most of the investments it had already made in IT personnel and skills.
The team discovered VMware Cloud on AWS, at a VMware event. This solution would allow the company to easily migrate and run its vSphere-based workloads on the AWS Cloud. Ansaldo Energia wanted to be among the first companies in Italy to use this new service, and it chose Storm Reply, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), to set up a new hybrid infrastructure.
Storm Reply supported the design of the software-defined data center and helped integrate the new service with Ansaldo Energia’s on-premises network and its AWS resources. Storm Reply also supported the migration of workloads from Ansaldo’s cloud providers to VMware Cloud on AWS, some of which could be done without any downtime to services. Finally, as certified members of the AWS Managed Service Provider Program, Storm Reply began assisting Ansaldo Energia in operating the new environment.
Customers appreciate high availability
“The immediate impacts for Ansaldo Energia and its customers are greater resilience and improved service levels. Monti says, “By using VMware Cloud on AWS, we can guarantee the service continuity our clients expect. For example, last year we had to shut down a data center due to an extraordinary event: our offices were physically closed. However, the team that supports our customers continued operating from another location and could access our monitoring systems, which remained active, with no problems.”
Not only can Ansaldo Energia run workloads with higher availability, it was also able to revise its architecture and archive older data in the cloud. This lowered the costs of storing backup data on premises and allowed the company to keep backup data in the cloud for longer than it could before.
A new level of agility
In addition to being able to improve service levels to customers, the IT team at Ansaldo Energia has created a unified operating model across its data center and the cloud. Monti says, “We have the performance and autonomy that our on-premises architecture gave us alongside the service levels of AWS. Today, we can transfer a workload at the drop of a hat, without service interruption, between a data center and the cloud or between on-premises clusters.”
Because of the scalability of the cloud, Ansaldo Energia can quickly adjust its resources to its business needs. “We started with three hosts, but it took just two clicks to add a fourth,” says Monti. “It was so simple to orchestrate. If we wanted to change machines in various regions, we could use multiple VMware Cloud instances in different regions without any service interruption.”
Return on investment to hit 30%
By maintaining the same operating architecture, Ansaldo Energia has also avoided the cost of reskilling staff or hiring experts with specific cloud skills. Overall, the company has calculated that its investment in a highly available monitoring infrastructure will bring returns of 30 percent—capital that it can reinvest into new strategic areas for the business.
At the same time, the project has provided a valuable insight into future operating models. Monti says, “VMware Cloud on AWS is an excellent starting point for future developments towards the cloud, which is the inevitable direction for many IT systems at Ansaldo Energia.”
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