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Mont Blanc Tunnel Vision ATMB and Eaton Provide Real-Time Monitoring at the Edge of the Network

7 November 2018

A Road Network Like No Other

The name Mont Blanc conjures images of snow topped mountains, luxury brands and the height of European alpine sophistication. That’s an image that equally applies to the company tasked with keeping the vital road networks open between France, Switzerland and Italy. And those roads are well used: every day, 40,000 drivers use ATMB’s road network of 130km of motorways and dual carriageways in France, Switzerland and Italy, while an average of 5,000 vehicles travel under Europe’s highest peak through the world-famous 11.6km long Mont Blanc tunnel.

The ATMB (Autoroute et Tunnel du Mont-Blanc) road network is made up of one tunnel, three main toll stations, a secondary road (the RN85 – known as the White Road) and two additional tunnels that join up with the Mont Blanc tunnel. It’s a strategic communications link between the countries and is considered to be vital to the local economy. Beyond that, the Mont Blanc Tunnel is both a significant human and technological feat, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the harsh winter weather that is common at this altitude in the Alps. 

ATMB’s top priority is to keep the roads open 24/7, while ensuring traffic safety - with harsh weather conditions in mind. ATMB has historically been committed to bringing in the latest innovations and technology to improve road safety, and uses its IT network to act as the eyes and ears of the highway, monitoring real-time traffic data and weather. 

Network Modernisation

Since 2014, ATMB has made it a priority to modernise its technical infrastructure. The company has a very effective fibre network in place, and has an innovative infrastructure within the IT rooms to provide high levels of security and availability. All facilities across the network are fitted with IT rooms that run CCTV, equipment to monitor road and weather conditions, and the tools to manage toll payments and keep drivers informed about driving conditions at any time. However, ATMB wanted to go further to increase efficiency and safety by enabling remote monitoring in each IT room so that it could increase uptime and lower the costs associated with sending technicians out across the network to deal with IT issues. 

To do this, AMTB had three key criteria:

1)   Remote control and management of the IT equipment

2)   Proactive monitoring and predictable maintenance of infrastructure

3)   Monitoring and analytics of power across the network to prevent downtime

Network Monitoring 

Eaton worked on the project with Modulo-C, a long-term partner and system integrator of Eaton in France. The two companies have worked closely together for many years, so much so that Eaton had even asked Modulo-C for feedback during the development phase of its remote monitoring software and the two companies worked together to find real-world test platforms. Modulo-C had worked with ATMB on other IT projects and knew that Eaton’s concept would be capable of addressing its goal of monitoring remote locations. 

Together, Eaton and Modulo-C approached ATMB with a concept, comprising of the Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) Infrastructure software and rack Power Distribution Units (PDUs), that would enable ATMB to manage and monitor the power across its network, and would allow them to remotely monitor the entire IT estate through a single pane of glass. 

The IPM Infrastructure software provides ATMB with an easy to use and simple to deploy infrastructure monitoring solution that enables it to manage its mission critical applications across the network directly from a single centralised dashboard. It allows ATMB to understand and monitor power across its network, as well as environmental and physical capacity metrics, all within the context of its IT infrastructure. Using this information, ATMB has the power to plan changes, anticipate challenges and make intelligent management decisions to optimise efficiency and ensure business continuity. 

Eaton also provided metered PDUs that enabled ATMB to accurately and remotely measure and monitor the power consumption of each IT device within a rack, enabling a comprehensive analysis of power consumption and efficiency across the network.

Network Resilience

The project has delivered ATMB with a more resilient and autonomous network. Since implementing the Intelligent Power Manager software, ATMB has been able to get much greater insight into what is happening with its IT and power. The initial test phase of the project was conducted on one toll station, and work has since started on a second. ATMB has also tasked Eaton with providing additional intelligent PDUs, based on the amount of insight they have received from the software. ATMB can now understand events across the both its IT and road networks in real-time, and can gather all required information to react in a timely and efficient manner.

“More than anything, Eaton and Modulo-C have given us peace of mind through the use of real-time monitoring,” said Marcel Masson Infrastructure Supervisor at ATMB. “Our priority is to keep the roads open and operating safely. For us, remote monitoring means uptime – the roads are open, we can process tolls, and we can monitor road safety effectively and cost-efficiently.”

The project also means that ATMB has made progress in creating a distributed architecture, close to what’s known as EDGE computing, which deploys the technology closer to where the processing takes place. Remote monitoring means that ATMB can understand how its distributed IT centers are operating, as well as enabling automated control of the IT systems - including toll processing, cameras and IT equipment without any human intervention. ATMB has been convinced by the benefits and capabilities of remote monitoring and precise measurement of power consumption, and the company is now looking to replicate this project by rolling out IPM Infrastructure across all of its toll stations.

Marcel Masson at ATMB said, “Eaton and Modulo-C have been partners crucial to the project in bringing the latest innovations in power management to our IT infrastructure. The quality of service and support they provide has meant the project has been extremely straight-forward and completed within deadline. Eaton’s technology means we can now monitor and manage our systems so that we know exactly what is going on at any point in the network – that’s good for our business, but it’s even more important for the safety of all our road users.”

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