Smart421 Wins Five Year Rail Settlement Plan Live Sales Management System’s Contract

Smart421, a UK IT consultancy firm specialising in business critical systems for large enterprises, announces it has been awarded a multi-year contract to design, build and manage a new Live Sales Management system for Rail Settlement Plan Ltd (RSP). This system will provide the rail industry with a flexible, high availability cloud-based solution to support ‘Ticket on Departure’ – the collection of rail tickets from self service ticket machines after purchasing them earlier on the web. It also provides a foundation for other delivery channels such as mobile and smartcards. The new system will support the next generation of ticket issuing systems and will enable cost reductions and better productivity for all franchises when issuing passenger rail tickets.

Currently the ‘Ticket on Departure’ service handles ticket sales totalling £1.8 billion per annum.

Work on the development phase commences in December 2012 for a period of thirteen months and is followed by a five year 24×7 support service.

Smart421 has chosen to develop this innovative solution in the cloud. By taking advantage of automated, on-demand infrastructure, the system enables RSP to give the train operating companies the ability to support large fluctuations in the demand for tickets during peak periods. By utilising cloud services it will allow the system to scale to a billion tickets per annum by 2018 without the need for capital investment in additional computer hardware. It can also be easily upgraded to support future generations of ticketing technology intended to enable cost reductions and better productivity for all rail franchises when issuing passenger tickets.

Amazon Web Services – Cloud Computing Platform

Smart421 will be using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the cloud computing platform to deliver support for business processes including deferred ticket delivery and sales reconciliation. The system will receive, validate and store records within a secure repository, validate that the correct railcard has been used and deliver reporting on all transactions from all areas of the system.

The RSP Live Sales Management system will be architected by Smart421 and involves a range of technologies in the AWS Cloud, including: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) and will be built across multiple Availability Zones in the AWS European Region to ensure security and high availability of the new system.

Smart421 will manage the scalability features within AWS by deploying tailored automation scripts to match peaks in demand, whilst minimising infrastructure costs to provide a utility based computing model

The system also integrates leading open source technologies such as an identity and access management platform (ForgeRock) and reporting database and reports server (Infobright and Jaspersoft) with the core transaction process and routing platform (RedHat).

The Live Sales Management system is vital to updating RSP’s business services over the next few years and is the first step within RSP’s Modernisation Programme.

Steve Howes, Managing Director at RSP, said: “This Live Sales Management project will deliver high quality service at reasonable cost which is good news for all industry stakeholders. We realise that this project will be watched very carefully because of its importance to RSP and the train operating companies we serve. Smart421 has demonstrated its capabilities and credentials to our total satisfaction and their tender represents excellent value for money.”

Neil Miles, Managing Director at Smart421, said: “Rail ticketing demand goes through seasonal and daily peaks and troughs, which makes it a great use case for cloud computing. As well as Cloud Computing services provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), we are making best use of leading open technologies. By choosing AWS technologies, Smart421 is giving RSP the ability to scale up their infrastructure during peak seasons and scale back during the off-peak times. This means that RSP can save money and time on managing technology infrastructure and can better serve the rail customers of the UK. In awarding this tender, RSP have recognised Smart421’s ability to deliver innovative solutions to support the demands of a 21st Century regulated retailing business. I am extremely pleased to bring our full expertise to RSP on this important IT system.”

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