May 19, 2020

SA railway operator awards Siemens huge signalling deal

African Business Review
Africa news
Siemens in Africa
Bizclik Editor
2 min
SA railway operator awards Siemens huge signalling deal

The South African railway company, PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), has commissioned Siemens with the delivery of signalling equipment and the construction of the “Gauteng Nerve Centre” (GNC) operations control centre.

It is the largest contract for signalling equipment ever awarded in South Africa. The contract is worth approximately 90 million euros. It includes 15 type Sicas S7 electronic interlockings for the railway network in the province of Gauteng.This also comprises the interlocking for Johannesburg Park Station, one of the busiest railway stations in all of Africa. In addition, more than 800 counting heads and over 380 switch machines will be installed. The communication network will also be upgraded to meet the signalling requirements. The entire project is due to be completed by 2016.

The signalling equipment currently used in the South African province of Gauteng is obsolete. It is composed of a mixture of technologies, some of which date back to the 1930s, and can therefore no longer guarantee consistently reliable processing and monitoring of train movements. Moreover, the supply of spare parts necessary for maintenance cannot be ensured. This will change with the Siemens signalling equipment that has now been ordered. In future, the routes will be set and monitored electronically.

The brand new operations control centre will control a total of 70 interlockings in the Johannesburg area. The interlockings and the GNC will communicate through an optical fiber network which Siemens has delivered in 2010. The new train protection system will increase the operational capacity, provide a higher level of flexibility and safety, and reduce train delays.

South Africa is not just an emerging market, it is also the most important economy in Africa and provides one-third of the continent’s entire gross domestic product. Freight transport is a strong economic sector and is almost exclusively handled by rail. Rising economic growth has also led to increased demand for modernisation of the railway infrastructure. With approximately 25,000 route kilometers, the South African railway network is the largest in Africa and the tenth largest in the world.

Siemens Mobility has already upgraded the Orex Line (SishenSaldanha) with type Sicas S7 signalling equipment. More than 860 kilometers long, this heavy-haul iron-ore railway line is currently the second longest line in the world.

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

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.”

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