Servicios Increases Availability, Flexibility, Scalability of SUBE Project with Red Hat Solutions

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June 10, 2013

Nación Servicios initially implemented its SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico, or Joint Electronic Ticket System) project using JBoss.org community solutions.

Customer: Nación Servicios S.A.

“Having free access to the code, being able to respond flexibly to the requests, and being able to adapt it directly within the company give us a competitive advantage over the rest." Lautaro González CIO, Nación Servicios S.A.

Business Challenge:

Nación Servicios initially implemented its SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico, or Joint Electronic Ticket System) project using JBoss.org community solutions. As the project gained popularity, the organization realized its need for an enterprise-class, scalable solution, that could both handle the growing volume of travelers and provide support services.

Migration Path:

JBoss.org to Red Hat® JBoss Enterprise Middleware

Software:

Red Hat® JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5.1.0, Red Hat JBoss® Web Server, Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 5.6 with Load Balancer Add-On

Benefits:

Red Hat solutions allowed for prompt, flexible responses to changes in the business rules of a very complex and integrated system that was not contemplated in the original functionalities of the SUBE project.

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Background:

Nación Servicios is a state-owned company member of Banco de la Nación Argentina doing business in the technological and business solutions sector. The company, with over 1,300 employees, offers innovative and quality solutions for businesses. It leads projects aimed at improving the quality of life of the population. As such, it is currently in charge of administering and managing the Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico (SUBE), a contactless smart card system that handles the sales of train, bus, and subway tickets in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area. The SUBE project involves the management and administration of more than 15 million transactions each day for the city’s public transportation system—which includes seven railway lines, six subway lines, and more than 19,000 buses. Since implementation, more than 13 million cards have been distributed, and more than 400 million transactions are processed each month. The system’s service infrastructure also handles large volume, with three million calls to the Contact Center and eight million website visits during the past year.

Business Challenge:

Red Hat Innovation Awards

An annual award competition, the Red Hat® Innovation Awards celebrate the innovations powering the future of technology for organizations globally. Selected by an esteemed panel of industry analysts, technology writers, contributors and Red Hat executives, a winner is recognized in each of the seven categories. From these categories winners, the Red Hat Innovator of the Year is selected by the online community for transforming their company’s IT infrastructure with Red Hat solutions.


Argentine transportation system sought a flexible solution to meet growing needs

In 2012, SUBE became the most far-reaching public transportation payment system in the Argentine Republic and the third largest system worldwide. The electronic ticket payment card, or SUBE card, was born as an alternative to traditional payment by coin, and the population quickly realized its benefits:

• Reduced waiting times and faster trips
• Easier access to payment due to decreased dependence on coins
• Increased safety due to less dependence on cash
• Reduced environmental pollution with the elimination of paper tickets

The new system, which was originally developed on JBoss Community projects, quickly outgrew its infrastructure as more and more travelers began buying, adding value to, and using SUBE cards. Nación Servicios needed an enterprise-class, scalable solution that would be able to handle current and future volume of travelers.

The primary challenge of the project was in migrating existing customer cards to the new system transparently, without risking daily operations. The update, management, and administration of 11 million cards required that the designs and architectures proposed for the solutions have redundancy in all components to eliminate single points of failure.

The 11 million travelers who use the SUBE card can also access an online news query and update service supported by the solution infrastructure. Combine the existing card migration and usage needs with the administration of over 20 million online news query and update transactions per month made this an extremely complicated and large-scale project.

Another goal of Nación Servicios dealt with was the project’s potential growth in the near future. The system had to be capable of supporting a large increase in the number of users. This factor had not initially been considered, causing delays, long lines, and frustration for customers trying to obtain and use the cards. Nación Servicios needed a scalable, controlled structure that would be flexible enough to accommodate future growth.

Solution:

Red Hat solutions provide scalability, high availability, interoperability

Nación Servicios’ challenges required a horizontally scalable, cluster-based architecture with online services and high availability of mission-critical services—without any single points of failure. Red Hat’s product portfolio suited the needs of the business. With the exception of the database engine, Nación Servicio’s solution comprises exclusively Red Hat products.

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® was brought in as the main operating system, along with the Red Hat Load Balancer Add-On. This is critical to Nación Servicios, as it provided cluster-based fault tolerance in the web service publication environment, creating an active-active system that load-balances requests over all available processing capacity.

Nación Servicios also implemented Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, which, along with the mod_cluster plug-in, helped provide the load-balancing and high availability needed by mission-critical services.

“Having an open source, scalable, and cluster-based technology allows us to face a business with a very important transactional growth,” said Lautaro González, CIO, Nación Servicios S.A.

Because Red Hat products are designed to work together seamlessly, the complete solution is highly robust, interoperable, and fully supported.

“The high availability, load balancing, and cluster-based scheme proposed by Red Hat allowed us to have not a single event of service shutdown so far,” said González.

After introducing the Red Hat solutions, the system was able to respond to changes in the business rules of a very complex and integrated system promptly and flexibly. Customer service times were reduced, and users benefited from more choice in how they add value to their SUBE cards, including by ATM, home banking, and phone. High speed and efficiency in responding to these queries are essential, with more than 20 million online queries calculated per month over multiple channels, including web, interactive voice response (IVR), charging networks, and self-management devices. Despite the increased growth, Nación Servicios was able to reduce the number of physical customer service and charging centers necessary, thereby saving money.

“The high availability system of Red Hat’s integrated solutions without points of failure allowed us to keep pace with the growth demanded by the SUBE project,” said González.

Benefits:

Red Hat services improve IT performance

To make sure that its IT staff was prepared for the new systems, Nación Servicios took advantage of certification classes offered through Red Hat Training. Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE®) certification ensures that operating system administrators are able to perform senior-level system administration tasks, including configuring remote storage, shell scripting, setting kernel runtime parameters, and configuring network services.

Red Hat Consulting services were also used to help configure the Red Hat Load Balancer Add-On for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This service proved to be highly useful and essential for the project’s success, as it provided an external view of the proposed architecture. Nación Servicios adopted many of the solutions that were recommended as a result of the consultations, and these became important parts of the analysis, design, and implementation process. Red Hat specialists also visited Nación Servicios’ offices to give valuable input on platform optimization and the implementation of performance improvements.

“I recommend including Red Hat Training and Red Hat Consulting from the project’s start to accompany its life cycle,” said González.

“Red Hat has given us its full support in the analysis, design, and implementation of the solution and is deemed a technology business partner, sharing its expertise in implementing and configuring its products.”

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