National Rail putting website on Amazon Web Services public cloud

National Rail has selected the Amazon Web Services public cloud as a hosting environment for its primary website nationalrail.co.uk.

The website is a popular service for rail travellers in the UK, which provides a rail journey planning service, live train information and detailed information about the rail industry, including service disruption and station facilities information.

National Rail has said that on average the site received 19 million visits per month across the web and mobile channels, but also experiences ‘significant short-term peaks’ when travellers are suffering disruption on the rail network.

National Rail has also selected Smart421 to integrate the service on to Amazon’s environment and manage the estate for the next 36 months. It will operate a single point of contact service desk to provide ongoing and ad-hoc support to National Rail for activities that include transition support, testing and verification of services.

Smart421 will be managing any incidents with the website and hosting environment going forward.

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Amazon will also be supporting National Rail’s ‘Darwin’ applications, which provide a feed for all the real-time services on the website and provide predictions and actual train movements across the rail network.

National Rail will be migrating away from its current IT estate with the aim to go live on Amazon by April this year. Its current estate consists of approximately 200 physical services, which are typically configured as ‘active/active’ across dual data centres and operate to 99.99% availability.

When National Rail revealed in March last year that it was looking for a new hosting provider, it said that the service provider would have to “make the best use of agile and commodity hosting arrangements that are capable of supporting its full range of high volume customer-facing online applications”.

It said that it required robust, elastic and flexible web hosting, as well as dynamic computing and large-scale database management.

It was also revealed towards the end of last year that National Rail is tendering for a multi-million pound contract that covers a variety of IT services, including the “identification, designing, building, testing and integration of IT solutions to support Network Rail change projects and programmes”.