Michel Portelli

TUI Cruises Enjoys Failsafe Travel with DataCore Software-Defined Storage

With growth rates of more than ten percent annually, cruises are the fastest-growing market in the tourism industry. But from an IT perspective, they pose many unique challenges. For example, a high level of availability and security are essential for IT systems at sea. Expensive shipyard time slots are needed for installation and maintenance – so engineers only have a few days for implementation of systems on board. Furthermore, a consistent internet connection cannot always be guaranteed during remote maintenance at sea. Because of the monthly costs of about $50,000 for a 4-MB line, larger data transactions are not possible in any case.

DataCore partner BSH IT Solutions has adapted especially well to these circumstances as a provider of IT infrastructure solutions. As a result, TUI Cruises, a joint venture between TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the world’s second-largest cruise company, chose BSH IT Solutions to implement the server and storage infrastructure on its newly-built Mein Schiff 3, Mein Schiff 4, Mein Schiff 5 and Mein Schiff 6 ships, as well as to replace the IT systems on its two earlier ships Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2. (In English, Mein Schiff means “My Ship.”)

As a critical part of this infrastructure, TUI Cruises installed DataCore’s software-defined storage platform, SANsymphony™. The TUI Cruises’ fleet utilizes the SANsymphony storage platform to deliver highly available and high-performance storage capacity for VMware, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange.

The IT infrastructure for the fleet was first designed on land by BSH IT Solutions, and then  SANsymphony was later implemented on board within the extremely narrow time frames required. While there are IT staff on board to handle technical emergencies and other issues, the majority of the management is done remotely via BSH IT’s data centers in Germany – no matter where the ships are.

we only work with providers and products that we trust 100%. That includes DataCore and SANsymphony

“Once you’re at sea, the IT systems need to be absolutely reliable. That’s why we only work with providers and products that we trust 100%. That includes DataCore and SANsymphony,” explains Niels Heider, project manager at BSH IT Solutions.

The entire IT infrastructure on the ships is designed redundantly. Systems are installed in separate fire and water zones, on different decks, and in the data centers located at the bow and stern. DataCore SANsymphony synchronously mirrors data, regardless of the manufacturer, model or technology of the connected storage hardware (disk or SSD), in order to ensure a high level of availability for systems on the ships. If a section of a data center fails, the other side automatically takes over (transparent auto failover) and resyncs the system when it is restarted (auto failback).

“DataCore’s scalability in terms of capacity, performance and functionality gives us the flexibility we need to respond to future challenges, whether it is on the single ships or for the entire fleet,” added Matthias Fahrner, director IT Competence Center & Strategy at TUI Cruises.

For more information, check out the detailed TUI Cruises case study here!

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