Image credit: LA Times
For public transportation and freight transport, China Railway Corporation enjoys a tremendous business scale. In 2016, the daily average passenger transport volume was 7.58 million persons, and the daily average cargo transport volume was 7.26 million tons. The train ticket website has more than 300 million registered users, and during the 2017 Spring Festival travel rush, the volume of online train ticket sales reached 9.33 million in a single day, with a daily average amount of 7.69 million tickets.
China Railway is a state-owned enterprise with exclusive control of railway transport, including operation and management of passenger and freight transport, management of related construction projects, and national railway transport safety. The enormous scale and the ever-increasing passenger and freight volume requires solid technical support from China Railway’s IT department.
That IT infrastructure is transforming to become more efficient, flexible, easy to deploy, secure and controllable. Its aim is to provide customers with more convenient information inquiries, online ticket purchasing, electronic payments and other network services. In addition, requirements such as business innovation and application innovation support management transformation from a planned economy to a market economy.
The IT transformation makes use of innovative technologies such as cloud computing, big data analysis, Internet of Things, and the mobile Internet. Building and using the railway’s cloud platform provides a more efficient, convenient, and energy-efficient IT infrastructure. The railway’s basic requirements for a cloud platform are stability, reliability, usability and compliance with business and state regulatory requirements.
To support the China Railway’s transformation from a traditional passenger and freight transport enterprise to a modern logistics enterprise, China Railway decided to develop a cloud computing solution. The corporation is deploying more than a dozen applications in five major categories on the China Railway Cloud, such as passenger transportation, freight, scheduling, and infrastructure. The overall application migration and deployment are mostly completed and in production.
In 2014, China Railway started developing its open source cloud solution based on OpenStack. In the process, China Railway has contributed 734 patch sets, 5,979 lines of code, and submitted and resolved 47 bugs for the OpenStack community.
OpenStack is the key to transforming the China Railway information system. The adoption of OpenStack marked the first time China Railway has fully embraced open source technology. It saved the corporation millions of dollars and the application launch cycle was shortened from several months to a day or two, enabling much quicker response to business requirements. In addition, cloud computing has improved resource utilization, with data center energy consumption being cut by approximately 50 percent.
In addition to OpenStack, the China Railway Cloud depends on KVM, OpenVSwitch/LinuxBridge, Hadoop, Kafka, Flume, Spark, CentOS, LXC, Docker, Kubernetes, OpenShift, Ceph, GlusterFS, Redis, MongoDB, MySQL/MariaDB, Ansible, Open-Falcon, ELK, ZeroMQ/RabbitMQ, and other open source software.
China Railway has deployed about 5,000 Intel® Xeon® processor-based server nodes, including about 800 KVM nodes and about 730 VMware nodes; 20PB SAN storage, 3PB distributed storage (Ceph). An additional 2,000 Intel Xeon processor-based server nodes are to be deployed by the end of 2017.
The cloud platform, with a scale of 800 physical nodes, hosts thousands of VMs and a dozen mission critical applications. It powers the production of 18 railway bureaus and more than 2,000 railway stations. The OpenStack cloud platform was able to handle the huge pressure of the Spring Festival peak to the system, with more than 31 billion daily average page views, as it also supported stable, safe and uninterrupted 24/7 operation of real-time dispatching management for all the trains, locomotives and vehicles.
The China Railway team is innovating with OpenStack to improve information system management as well as the customer experience. Based on open source components, China Railway developed the Operation Management System (OMS) to complement the cloud software. OMS includes monitoring, automation and analysis services. China Railway has verified the stability of operating 800 servers hosting 100,000 VMs in the same region with high-availability control nodes.
In addition, China Railway modified front-end functions to optimize the customer experience and added operation type logs for easier archiving by administrators, as well as permissions control, failover functions, and more.
Experts from Intel’s Open Source Technology Center worked with the China Railway IT department to test, tune and optimize the performance of the China Railway Cloud infrastructure. Testing and verification were done to check the maximum scale that China Railway Cloud could handle under a single-region deployment mode and find an efficient and optimized architecture design solution for it. The configuration was optimized to ensure that the cloud services could run effectively, stably and reliably in ultra-large-scale deployments and heavy-load situations.
Tests and optimizations were conducted on the control plane, data plane and the operations of critical business applications on the China Railway Cloud. The team found performance bottlenecks and optimized them, achieving the maximum performance of the hardware platform, verifying China Railway Cloud’s performance and stability, and also providing a reference architecture for production deployment.
We are excited that China Railway cloud has been nominated for the SUPERUSER Award, and we look forward to a great OpenStack Summit in Sydney.
For those attending Summit, or those who want to follow-up afterwards, click here for information on the Summit session about China Railway’s OpenStack journey.
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