Beauval Zoo moves from cloud to HCI

Five years ago, Beauval Zoo decided to structure its information system by recruiting Sylvain Spodar as CIO and devoting more resources to IT issues.

Arrived in 2016 at the head of the IT department at the Zoo de Beauval in St Aignan (900 species and nearly 30,000 animals), and Sylvain Spodar was instantly monopolized by a ransomware cyber attack on workstations. And in 2017 again with a 3and incident a few months after his arrival with the infiltration of ransomware on the reservation servers of the leisure park, which brings together a zoo, three hotels, a hotel residence, shops and several restaurants in the Center-Val de Loire region. “We restored the servers in a few hours from the backups that were put in place before the updates filled in the security vulnerabilities,” DSI explained to us during a press briefing.

“We started with three and we will be ten by the end of the year,” DSI told us. “Management gave us the means to rebuild step by step, starting with an upgrade of the network that uses fiber […] All hotels are connected by fiber, the network was important but poorly managed ”. The first step was to complete the Cisco network core with Netgear equipment, which caused instability between the 2 loops in the park, which guarantees redundancy in the event of a shovel strike. “We reconfigured the network with stacks of six switches instead of loops,” DSI said. The local network has since evolved with a cut-out and partitioned architecture with VXLAN “We also go back to Cisco at 100%”. On the WiFi side, the network has been standardized with Ruckus Wireless relay points to meet the needs of visitors (28,000 per day in the busiest months of April and May), staff (400 indefinite contracts for 1,100 people in the summer with seasonal workers). The park actually stretches over 44 acres, of which 20 are visible: fencing, zoo and technical areas.

CIO of the Beauval Zoo since 2016, Sylvain Spodar has restructured its infrastructures to achieve flexibility and performance. (SL credit)

Two Nutanix clusters

In March 2018, Sylvain Spodar embarked on the consolidation of the four physical servers used to ensure the proper operation of hotel reservation and ticket editing software. “We visited AWS to migrate our applications to the cloud, but a latency of 18/19 ms was required to ensure that the reservation and ticketing solutions worked properly. The latency was too high to display the reservation schedule with 800 to 900 requests to load We therefore had to choose a plan B using Workspace on AWS to reduce the latency between workstations and applications hosted on the cloud in VMs. ”But the price of these virtualized PCs was too high, so the CIO decided to look for an alternative solution.

One of the two computer rooms at the Zoo de Beauval. (SL credit)

“During 2018, I was not yet ready for HCI. VMware was too complex and I did not have enough resources to do so. In 2019, I reviewed the project with Nutanix, Dell / VMware and HP. The decision to work with Nutanix was a financial choice at this time using word of mouth, ”reports the CIO. A discussion with DSI in Puy du Fou during a Nutanix convention in Copenhagen ended up convincing Beauvals. Therefore, in September 2019, the Californian supplier and its partner S-Cube installed six NX 1175S-G6 nodes (2 six-core Intel Xeon 4116 chips, supported by 192 GB RAM) distributed in two clusters on 2 computer rooms in synchronous replication (active / active) for redundancy. “If one room falls, the other takes over immediately. We are in an IT-hostile environment “, DSI clarifies. The system uses AOS Pro with the synchronous replication extension. Each cluster has a usable capacity of approximately 7.9 TB of flash and 19.8 TB of hard disk. Connection is provided by two 10G fiber ports per. node, and the interconnection between the two compartments is 2x10G (at a Netgear factory, which is being replaced by a Cisco factory).

One of the two Nutanix clusters that ensure the operation of the Beauval Zoo applications. (SL credit)

Each cluster supports around thirty World Cups (with hotel, catering, video surveillance, antivirus, recruitment and housing stock management for seasonal workers) with a consumed storage of 7 TB out of a usable capacity of 26 TB. has not changed since 2019, it still meets our needs “, clarifies DSI. The backup is performed with Hycu on AWS (S3 and Glacier). The park’s website is also hosted on AWS, and other uses are envisaged on the platform, especially to make better use of the data. “A data lake is being examined to recover all data from the applications and cross-reference them to report activity indicators to the managers”. A data researcher has even been recruited to work on these topics. The extraction and exploitation of the data is now provided by Tableau Software Note that the video surveillance of the park (animal enclosures and certain sensitive areas) with 200 cameras is based on Hikvision devices with dedicated storage, convergence towards a hybrid storage solution is not currently foreseen, as is the implementation of a real PRA.

One of the Beauval Zoo pandas in action. (SL credit)

The Panda effect also benefits IT

DSI’s projects include the development of applications for companies to better serve visitors by detecting, for example, the length of queues in restaurants to inform customers, or even better manage travel and flows in the park. “Tests have been performed with Ruckus Wireless, but we do not have enough terminals in the park”. The use of “intelligent” cameras to monitor certain enclosures and prevent the theft of animals, such as turtles, for example, is being investigated. Finally, better use of sensors – around twenty in total, including CO2, temperature, humidity and water quality – is on the way. The zoo, which has experienced a dazzling increase in the number of visitors (1.6 million today) since the arrival of the fighting pandas in 2016, has put its IT back in working order to absorb this excess activity, amplified by the birth of Two baby pandas in August last year.

Leave a Comment