Andrzej Lewandowski
Solutions Architect
Wojciech Tomaszewski
Location-based Solutions Team Leader
Ross Krawczyk
Editor-in-Chief

Optimizing logistics operations cost with hybrid cloud architecture: RST x Trans.eu x PTV Group case study

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As you probably already know from the number of cases we discussed on our blog, we’ve been working with Trans.eu – one of the largest logistics platforms in Europe – pretty much since the day 0 of their foundation. With over a hundred RST developers involved in the development of the platform, we have multiple teams working on multiple features at all times. Today, we’ll talk about one particular case we deployed not so long ago – a dedicated PTV-based server for route mapping that relies heavily on hybrid cloud architecture.

This time I sat down with Andrzej Lewandowski, Location-based Solutions Lead Architect at RST Software and Wojciech Tomaszewski, Location-based Solutions Team Leader at RST Software to discuss the business side of implementing hybrid cloud in Trans.eu. Let’s start from the beginning.

What is PTV and why did we use it?

PTV Group is a software company that offers a wide range of mobility and logistics solutions for various use cases. They also happen to provide the best-in-class software for intelligent traffic management and transport optimization. In our case, Trans.eu decided to implement custom PTV-powered feature layers that allow their clients to omit traffic jams, road works and incidents, places with ecological bans for trucks, speed limits etc.

As a leading logistics platform, Trans.eu serves over 62 000 concurrently active companies on a daily basis. To stay ahead of their competitors, Trans offers great user and customer experience, to achieve which, it needs to be powered by an innovative technology.

Hence, the cooperation between Trans and PTV was of the essence. To attain technological superiority, Trans needed to develop their own route mapping server using PTV’s innovative products and their own internal solutions. Thankfully, the RST team was also able to take part in this endeavour.

Opting in for hybrid cloud infrastructure

Trans’s scale of operations requires well-architected infrastructure. Obviously, we use both cloud-native solutions based on AWS as well as our own dedicated on-premise servers hosted in one of the largest data centres in Poland to power various parts of the system.

However, location-based services require massive computing resources. Building such machines in our data centre would require large capital investment. Utilizing cloud computing with at least 4-6 AWS-powered virtual machines with 100GB of RAM and 8-16 CPUs each wouldn’t be cheap either.

Add to the mix the specifics of the logistics industry, where you experience traffic peaks at around 8am and 4pm with relatively low traffic in between, and you’ve got yourself a case where neither on-premise nor cloud-native are a particularly perfect solution on their own. That’s when a hybrid cloud infrastructure comes into play.

What are hybrid clouds?

A hybrid cloud is a combination of a public cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP) and a private cloud (on-premise) that allows you to reap the benefits of both types of solution.

Implementing ECS Anywhere to create stable and cost-effective hybrid cloud solution

To tackle the task at hand, we sat down with both PTV and Trans.eu teams to create a solution that offers data integration for business-critical applications and a consistent computing environment for our PTV-powered mapping servers.

Since we already had an on-premise cluster that serves as a tightly controlled private infrastructure, we wanted to use it as a foundation for our hybrid cloud computing solution. At the same time, we also wanted to be able to manage everything from an AWS-powered cluster that would be able to automatically scale up whenever resources usage spiked.

Step 1: Containerizing PTV xServer for ECS Anywhere

First, we had to make sure that our PTV xServer was able to run in containers wherever we deployed it. As PTV didn’t offer the exact solution natively, we developed a custom one, successfully containerizing PTV xServer.

Step 2: Setting up ECS Anywhere on our private cloud environments

In order to prepare our data centre-based machines for becoming a part of a hybrid cloud solution, we had to precisely configure ECS Anywhere for running our specific use case. The latter wasn’t trivial, but Trans.eu DevOps team managed to accomplish the task.

Step 3: Deploying PTV xServer on our on-premise machines using ECS Anywhere

When PTV xServer was ready and ECS Anywhere was configured to run and manage our containerized application within Trans’s private cloud infrastructure, we successfully deployed our container and started preparations for the next stage – AWS deployment.

Step 4: Deploying PTV xServer on AWS (work in progress)

As of the time of the writing, our teams work on deploying PTV on AWS and interconnecting it into our custom hybrid cloud infrastructure. Thankfully, as most of the groundwork has been laid, this final stretch will conclude a successful implementation of hybrid cloud services.

Hybrid cloud architecture diagram

Hybrid cloud infrastructure benefits

Hybrid clouds benefit #1: Scalability and flexibility

Utilizing both public and private clouds offers the ability to control the usage of your computing resources based on the actual traffic. You can’t rapidly scale your on-premise solution due to its physical limitations while constantly running your cloud resources can generate hefty usage bills.

When you have access to a computing environment that consists of a public cloud and private cloud, you can easily use the former when the need for the ‘cloud bursting’ arises. Cloud bursting is essentially a temporary on-demand usage of public cloud computing when demand exceeds resources available within your on-premise machines.

At the same time, if you need to have fast and uninterrupted access to your data, on-premise infrastructure offers the highest access speed available. Being able to use both gives your business the necessary flexibility.

Hybrid clouds benefit #2: Reduced costs and higher sustainability

Continuing Trans’s example, using modern hybrid cloud architecture provides you with cheap data storage that offers great service quality to your clients while your private cloud infrastructure takes care of rapidly scaling your cloud computing resources to handle any usage peaks that may occur

Combining private and public clouds thus offers drastic reduction of operational costs, as long as it’s set up correctly. Optimizing resources utilization also offers environmental benefits, leading you to highly sought-after sustainability.

Hybrid clouds benefit #3: Data security and compliance

Last but not least, enterprise cloud solutions usually operate on a variety of sensitive personal data that needs to be stored under GDPR (and its foreign alternatives) compliance regulations. A dedicated on-premise solution can be required to fulfil this obligation. Being able to both stay compliant and still run your favourite tooling, like in the case of ECS Anywhere, will be appreciated by your dev teams.

Hybrid cloud architecture for logistics

As you can see from the above case study, creating a hybrid cloud environment offers a wide variety of gains. In our particular case, we managed to optimize infrastructure costs by reaping hybrid cloud benefits and optimizing resources usage according to actual workload.

Yes, this solution also has its downsides in the form of upfront cost of setting up an on-premise private cloud as well as technical expertise required for proper configuration and maintenance. However, the priciness of such an investment is easily mitigated when you calculate the monthly cost of an alternative: running such a scale of operations on a public cloud.

Other use cases for our hybrid cloud solution

As you can imagine, hybrid cloud infrastructures can be of a great advantage to many other industries. The solution we developed together with Trans.eu and PTV can be extrapolated to other industries. To give you a couple of hybrid cloud examples:

  • You can utilize your on-premise GPU compute capacity to run image and video processing container workloads;
  • You can run big data processing without the need to transfer your data to the cloud;
  • You can run machine learning algorithms using your on-premise data and utilizing AWS’s rapid scalability;
  • You can run Windows container workloads using your private cloud environments; or
  • You can even manage a third-party orchestration tool, if such need arises.

All in all, hybrid clouds are especially useful to large organizations, even though it requires a very specific set of knowledge and skills. If you have a need for developing your own hybrid cloud solution, feel free to drop me a line at ross@rst.software, and I’ll connect you with our Solutions Architects in no time.

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