“Simply clever”, ŠKODA’s legendary tagline, perfectly encapsulates the brand’s philosophy: to make life easier every day via human ingenuity and strive for inventiveness. And not only does it apply to the solutions for various situations drivers have to deal with in life – it also describes how ŠKODA’s vehicles are actually made. So let’s take a look behind the scenes of the automotive giant’s digital transformation, driven by Extreme Networks!
ŠKODA AUTO, based in Mladá Boleslav, is a leading industrial enterprise in the Czech Republic and one of the oldest carmakers in the world. Today, ŠKODA AUTO employs over 30,000 people, operating as part of the Volkswagen Group for nearly 30 years. Recently, ŠKODA AUTO deliveries have increased substantially, with an expanding product portfolio to boot. As a result of growth and expansion, the company outgrew its network infrastructure.
ŠKODA’s previous network infrastructure was complex, with operations spread across its main manufacturing base at Mladá Boleslav, assembly plants in Kvasiny and Vrchlabi, as well as various remote branches and office locations. Suffice to say, the IT environment consisted of a plethora of different hardware elements, including over 140 backbone and distribution switches, more than 3400 access switches and somewhere around 160 000 ports. Therefore, the new solution needed to stay true to the company’s famous tagline: “simply clever”.
Three main goals for the infrastructure modernization were identified:
- Multiple networks needed to be condensed into one, reducing costs and increasing efficiency,
- Continuous uptime to power staff and vehicle manufacturing,
- Ease of management via automation capabilities.
In order to face these challenges, ŠKODA decided to collaborate with Extreme Networks.
Converging multiple networks into one
The network enhancement project kicked off with the first upgrade of the backbone network at headquarters, as well as a simultaneous migration to the virtual infrastructure. From there, ŠKODA expanded the cloud solution across the backbone network spanning multiple locations, in addition to access layer switches in its data centers.
To cover all sites and converge multiple separated physical networks into one fully virtualized network, it was decided to deploy Extreme Fabric Connect – a standards-based fabric solution. The Extreme Networks engineering team worked diligently to implement Fabric Connect technology, virtualizing the network entirely.
"We needed a stable infrastructure, so virtualization was a must. Our IT team had to have a way to deploy new services quickly”, says Martin Polak, Coordinator for Network Planning at ŠKODA AUTO.
Today, virtual networks can be created and configured in one hour instead of one day.
Eliminating inefficiencies and laying the groundwork for growth
Since Extreme Networks Fabric Connect implementation in 2013 at ŠKODA’s aging network, no more unplanned outages per year have been seen and the time required for service outages has been reduced by 50%. It helped mitigate financial risk to production line shutdown and influencing staff productivity. Post-implementation results were immediate.
“We removed the strain on our network that was hindering business growth and performance of our applications”, says Polak. “Our new Extreme infrastructure optimizes staff performance across all areas of business.”
Using Extreme`s virtualization solution, ŠKODA has reduced time to market, armed with the ability to upgrade or implement new services with no maintenance windows. Today, IT staff can easily perform changes. Further, thanks to simplified maintenance, technicians focus on innovation-driven projects to facilitate continued growth while keeping the network fine-tuned.
“Now we manage everything online, without service outages. We have improved the performance and morale of our IT staff, and now they don’t have to work overtime”, explains Polak.
Improving management with automation and analytics
As a result of merging multiple disparate networks into one network with logical separation of services, the network is easy to manage from a single pane of glass using Extreme Management Center. Human error has also been reduced drastically because of automated fabric provisioning.
“Automation of many activities is driving better productivity of the whole IT team and not only”, says Josef Saska, Head of IT infrastructure at ŠKODA AUTO. “As an example, data from screw drivers have to be stored for 15 years. There is no need to configure network if such device moves throughout the plant, all is automated and secured”.
What’s more, Extreme Analytics is helping ŠKODA’s IT staff monitor application performance across entire infrastructure and helps to improve user experience. It allows to eliminate unwanted applications, as well as improve overall security via integration with other deployed security technologies like firewalls, security information management or mobile device managements.
Driving the innovation
Right from the very beginning in 1895, challenges have always spurred ŠKODA’s inventiveness. And because giving up was never part of the brand’s mindset, the necessity of modernizing IT infrastructure was not perceived as an opportunity, rather than a problem. Today, heading into its 125th anniversary, ŠKODA AUTO is in the perfect position to exceed their goals for business growth while supporting employees and delighting customers.