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As the largest port in Greece, indeed one of the largest in the Mediterranean, Piraeus Port plays a crucial role in the development of international trade as well as the local and national economy. Connecting continental Greece with surrounding islands, the port is also an international cruise center and a commercial hub for the Mediterranean, providing services to ships of all types and sizes. Today, the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) S.A. — the port's sole operator — has more than 1000 employees and provides services to more than 24,000 ships annually. A key contributor to local and national economic growth, the PPA knew that upgrading infrastructure and services was of vital importance, in order to develop a more effective, better performing, and economically competitive port.
As the maritime transport industry evolves, seaports around the world face a wider range of challenges, from underperforming infrastructure, surges in trade growth, and a lack of production capacity to increasing regulations and growing environmental concerns. These challenges, allied to higher customer expectations, make maintaining seamless and efficient operations more and more difficult. Yet companies that rely on ports for shipping are increasingly only choosing those that can deliver streamlined services and handle increasing demands.
To address these industry-wide challenges, almost every port is now looking to invest in new technologies and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) innovation, in order to accelerate digital transformation and automate work processes, enhance operational efficiency, and attract business opportunities. Piraeus Port is no exception, placing ICT investment high on its agenda. Constantly working to improve services and boost customer satisfaction, PPA found that its aging ICT was beginning to actively limit its ability to deliver on both.
With the key goals of achieving higher performance and reliability, all with simplified Operations and Maintenance (O&M), PPA decided to kick-start a data center virtualization project. "Providing services 24/7, 365 days a year, uninterrupted network availability and flexibility is critical for the port to operate a combination of different systems. It was also important for us to meet the ever-increasing demand for new Information Technology (IT) services as well as embrace digital transformation," said Fotis Bartsokas, System and Database Administrator at Piraeus Port.
To achieve its aim, Piraeus Port needed to modernize its legacy data center infrastructure, introduce new IT systems into the legacy topology, and ensure smooth migration to new storage systems and an ICT virtualization environment, all without interrupting online port systems and ongoing business.
The main focus of the data center virtualization project was the renewal of ICT equipment and the transition from a physical to a virtual environment. With software upgrades performed, extra care was taken to ensure that all existing services remained compatible with new Operating Systems (OSs). Most importantly, it was essential to migrate all of PPA's applications to a virtual environment, with hardware, software, and required services customized and installed accordingly.
Piraeus Port chose Huawei's solution because of the simplicity of deployment, high performance, and clear and easy expansion capabilities. Together with local partner and IT solutions company Intrasoft, Huawei designed and created the solution's architecture and provided all hardware systems in the new data center equipment room. ''We chose OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage systems and installed them at two different sites, implementing Huawei's active-active storage solution — HyperMetro — as well as synchronous replication, to ensure the uninterrupted availability of services,'' added Fotis Bartsokas.
Purpose-built for mission-critical services, OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage provides high-performance, high-reliability, and high-efficiency storage services. Proprietary FlashLink technology ensures up to 4 million Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) at a consistent latency of just 500 μs. In addition, the HyperMetro gateway-free active-active design delivers six-nines — 99.9999% — availability with just 1 ms latency. Inline de-duplication and compression technologies also help slash initial purchase costs.
The port's tailored solution also included OceanStor Fibre Channel (FC) switches, racks, and additional equipment. With Huawei providing End to End (E2E) technical support services, Intrasoft delivered virtualization and backup software for the new virtualized environment, resulting in collaborative efforts that achieved smooth migration without business disruption.
In addition, smart scheduling for energy-saving has already helped to reduce power consumption, generating energy savings of more than 15%, compared to the legacy infrastructure. O&M efficiency has also been boosted by some 30%, with the performance of databases, capacity, and virtualized applications increasing by 20%.
Going forward, the port plans to advance automation and digitalization processes, placing fresh focus on new approaches to data management, new platforms, innovative delivery models, and supply and demand changes. "As a modern and dynamic enterprise, PPA will continue to provide high-level services and serve, in the most effective way possible, the country's trade flows, benefiting the national economy as well as individual Greek consumers," Bartsokas said. With this infrastructure upgrade made, Piraeus Port is actively embracing digital transformation and proactively implementing innovations, grasping the opportunity to make the port more efficient, more sustainable, and, as a result, more competitive, charting a course to a more prosperous, sustainable future.