Building Hybrid Cloud Solutions

Gartner predicts that by 2017 50% of enterprises will be using hybrid cloud. Here engineering firm Costain, working with managed services provider NaviSite, has provided a hybrid cloud solution to the Highways Agency.

Organisations are deploying hybrid solutions for a variety of reasons as they seek to take advantage of the flexibility of the cloud; whilst also accommodating the commercial or technical needs of more traditional technologies. An example of this trend is engineering solutions provider Costain. When presented with a new business opportunity with an existing client, the company chose to host a new technology solution on a custom hybrid cloud platform. In partnership with NaviSite, Costain was able to successfully deliver an innovative technology solution that met the end client’s data security and software functionality needs, all within a tight implementation timescale.

One of the specialist services which Costain delivers in the Highways sector is integrated highway technology schemes. This includes the design, procurement, installation and commissioning of intelligent transport systems (SMART motorways) and software solutions such as ESDAL (Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads) that allow haulers of abnormal loads to plot a route and notify the appropriate authorities when transporting abnormal loads across the UK.

The Challenge

Highways England turned to Costain to deliver an innovative solution that would comply with complex UK legislation requiring highways authorities, structure owners and the police to be notified of vehicles and their loads exceeding standard dimensions. Currently the need to engage with multiple local agencies along a route can mean that the planning of transportation for these loads can be extremely complex.

Costain developed the Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads (ESDAL) on behalf of Highways England so they could deliver this service. They then looked to host the application with a partner that could deliver a reliable, robust and secure platform for SaaS delivery.

Due to data requirements the facility would need to be secure and located in the UK, offer high service levels as well as provide the capability for remote connections for multiple developers working abroad. Finally as the software application design was based on an Oracle database with Microsoft Windows access points, the hosting solution provider needed to be flexible enough to support these requirements.

To ensure that the right hosting provider could be identified, Costain setup a formal process outlining the requirements which a provider would need to meet in order to deliver against their strict requirements. Eventually NaviSite was selected to deliver a complex hybrid cloud hosting environment to support the rollout of the ESDAL application. In selecting NaviSite, Costain found a partner that could consistently and reliably host and deliver its new software solution, while meeting the relevant data regulations.

The Hybrid Solution

The NaviSite team worked collaboratively with Costain during the initial stages of this complex project to design and deliver a custom hybrid cloud model; with a very scalable Windows application tier hosted on NaviCloud IaaS and the Oracle database hosted on a physical cluster. This physical cluster served two purposes, firstly it guaranteed that the database was legitimately licensed following Oracles best practice guidelines; secondly it provided a robust platform for the database with performance guarantees on dedicated resources.

Due to the critical nature of the application, it was essential that all components were tested and that delivery of full functionality, promised response times and requisite security measures could be demonstrated. Prior to the system going live, the NaviSite team setup the platform, operating environments, clustered Oracle databases, networks, firewalls, and ensured that software testing was successful on the custom hybrid platform. Through this platform, NaviSite enabled the delivery of all the functionality to plan and manage the transportation of abnormal loads through the road network to Costain’s customer, Highways England.

The Result

By using a tailored hybrid cloud solution Costain was able to effectively provision the ESDAL application and open up new business opportunities with its existing customer. The implementation of the NaviSite hosted hybrid cloud platform fulfilled Costain’s contractual requirements with Highways England, a major win in a new application area for the company.

The successful mobilization of the ESDAL service, hosted on NaviSite’s hybrid cloud model has enhanced the reputation and confidence in Costain to deliver complex integrated technology solutions. The success of the new service has been underpinned by a collaborative approach with NaviSite to create the required infrastructure to meet the key performance requirements of the contract. This approach linked to Costain’s broader capabilities has proven our ability to deliver a complex IT solution to meet national needs and provided Costain with the opportunity to create significant new business. ESDAL is now available as a free service to local councils, government departments and private companies through Highways England’s ESDAL website.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine