Cruise ship operator Fred Olsen eyes further upgrade to on-board network
Cruise operator Fred Olsen is eyeing further upgrades to its onboard internet services, according to the group’s IT Director, Damon Impett.
The company recently beefed up its internet speeds across its four ships, with speeds upgraded from 800Kbps to 3Mbps.
The project involved retrofitting the company’s fleet of ships, with around 28km of cabling installed on each vessel.
But in an exclusive interview with Business Review Europe, Impett revealed there are plans to improve the on board offering yet further.
“While the recent upgrade was substantial, we are currently looking to update that to 10Mbps as we know we can offer more, although, as all operators will know, it doesn’t matter how much you increase your speeds by, as customers will always take your offering to the limit,” he commented in an exclusive interview with Business Review Europe.
“That 10Mbps is actually expandable to 20Mbps in cases where there is additional capacity available on the satellites we are using.”
The capability of bouncing from one satellite to another to take advantage of extra capacity is an example of providers becoming more proactive, Impett commented, adding that a number of new satellites are due for launch this year, with more to come in the following few years.
In the wide ranging interview, Impett also touched on the subject of automated ships, saying that they would “absolutely become a reality”, but that ships would likely never be completely unmanned due to concerns over by physical and cyber security.
“I think ultimately there will always be someone on the ship to ensure that a vessel is not allowed to run off course, in the same way that planes are fully automated but you still have a captain and chief officer.
“Nobody really wants to get into a plane and think there is no pilot but they’re actually perfectly capable of flying themselves, and it’s even easier on a ship because of the lower speeds.
“Technically ships are already capable of running autonomously, so this is not a massive step in that sense, it’s more about changing people’s mindsets.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”