''The Fed4FIRE virtual wall facility became a test platform on which we could emulate a wayside server infrastructure and a large train fleet, each deploying multiple applications which can be updated using iSync" says Dirk Van Den Wouwer, R&D and Product Manager at Televic.
The ability to test complex communication products in an integrated, end-to-end way at scale, before they can be released to the market, is crucial. Fast-track tests are important for companies such as Televic Rail and iMinds as an innovative supplier of Passenger Information System. The main challenge faced by many Small & Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) is their financial limitation to execute their tests as efficiently as possible.
SMEs under FIRE's resolution
Projects such as Fed4FIRE overcome this challenge by offering various experimentation opportunities Thus, via Fed4FIRE entrepreneurs can deploy multiple, repetitive and realistic tests to validate their credibility. Fed4FIRE is an Integrating Project under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7) addressing the work program topic Future Internet Research and Experimentation (FIRE). Through FIRE facilities, innovative experiments and infrastructure developers are able to apply their core testbed activities and get fast testing results. In this vein, Fed4FIRE has provided TeleVic's project, Silver Wolf with splendid support to execute their innovative experiment by offering world class European experimentation resources, test beds along with technical and even financial support.
Harnessing Fed4FIRE for Silver Wolf
Indeed, the SilverWolf project verified its iSync functionality with a large fleet of railcars via Fed4FIRE.
"iSync is a means to provide communication between applications onboard trains and their counterpart at wayside. Given some operators manage a train fleet of 30,000 vehicles, thus, only robust provisioning systems can survive. Since updates can be done on fleet in service it is undesirable to perform the first tests on the fleet directly. Therefore, the Fed4FIRE virtual wall facility became a test platform on which we could emulate a wayside server infrastructure and a large train fleet, each deploying multiple applications which can be updated using iSync" says Dirk Van Den Wouwer, R&D and Product Manager at Televic.
"Based on the provisioning systems' needs, we have set up various configurations with adjusted Virtual Machines (VMs). Each VM represents a set of trains which all could be addressed individually from the emulated wayside server infrastructure that resides in a VM. Various combinations of fleet sizes, number of manageable applications and data sizes provided us valuable insights in order that developers enhance the robustness and scalability of the deployed iSync application.We found that experiments could be setup very easily because a lot of resources could be accessed with only one tool. The Fed4FIRE consortium provided sufficient support when it was needed to setup new experiments."
What's next after Fed4FIRE test beds
The FED4FIRE project has helped Televic to validate the technology for the exchange of data between trains and ground and to keep the data up-to-date on large fleets of trains. It has also added further value to real economy and has improved citizens' daily life by offering the future railway experience. As a ground-breaking, real time monitoring fleet manager, Silver Wolf supplies passengers with Wi-Fi connection and trip management services. So far, more than 22.000 railcars including Eurostar fitted with Silver Wolf transform the notion of travelling.
However, there is room for future improvements, according to the post-evaluation results: Using an experimentation facility supported by EU research funding, such as Fed4FIRE does not guarantee its availability on a long term. Thus, enterprises may also be driven to discover alternative experimentation opportunities using commercial public cloud infrastructures.