Accelerated IT = Smoother Operations


Italy-based Brembo guarantees 24×7 operations while boosting its design capabilities with upgraded high performance computing environment

Automotive   |   Italy

Business needs

Brembo wanted to secure its design and manufacturing operations by improving disaster recovery and business continuity.

Solutions at a glance

Business results

  • Recovery time and recovery point objectives improved by 8 and 30 times respectively

  • Same number of staff can manage double the size of infrastructure

  • Cooling costs reduced by 30 per cent and space requirements cut by 50 per cent

Located just outside Bergamo in northern Italy is a hub comprising research centres, high-tech manufacturing companies, laboratories and start-ups. Dubbed the “Red Kilometre,” this is where the cream of Italy’s engineering talent develops, designs and builds some of the world’s most advanced technology.

Among them is Brembo, founded in 1961 and now one of the global leaders in vehicle braking and safety systems. It is well known for its work with top motorsport teams around the world like the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team. In fact, it’s been behind an impressive 21 drivers’ and 25 constructors’ championship victories since 1975 for drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

IT plays a strategic role in the group’s development, and systems need to be running 24×7. As Paolo Crovetti, ICT director at Brembo, puts it, “IT is essential to all activities at the factory and in the warehouse. We can’t do anything without IT.” As well as running the group’s operations day-to-day, Brembo also uses IT to further research and development of its products. It requires high-performance computing (HPC) to simulate braking mechanics and render images during product design.

Cutting-edge design never sleeps

Brembo’s previous infrastructure was centralised, with its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and HPC services provided through its headquarters. The company wanted to implement an IT disaster recovery plan and bolster its existing business continuity plan at the same time. It also needed to reduce planned downtime, which was averaging around six hours every three months.

The firm opens one or two production sites a year, so any solution had to be flexible enough to accommodate the firm’s growth, as well as absorb emerging technologies as Brembo adopted them.

Crovetti and his team evaluated several hardware vendors, and also considered outsourcing disaster recovery and HPC to a cloud provider, but chose Dell EMC, its IT partner for more than a decade. Crovetti explains, “We started using Dell clients more than 10 years ago, before moving on to data-centre technology.

Dell EMC’s on-premise solution offered a much lower total cost of ownership over five years, plus we retain our in-house knowledge, meaning we can react to changes much more quickly.”

Mirrored data centres boost business continuity

Brembo has duplicated its existing data centre, so it now has two sites in a mirrored configuration, each with Dell EMC PowerEdge M620 and FC630 servers with Intel® Xeon® processors, Dell EMC Storage PS Series arrays and Dell EMC Networking S6000, S4810P, S4810T, MXL and FN I/O Module switches at the core, with Dell EMC Networking N Series switches for campus connectivity. The two sites operate in parallel, connected via a 40 Gigabits per second (Gbps) fibre-optic ring, and Brembo can switch between them instantly. “The two data centres are virtually a single data centre, even if they’re physically located in different sites,” says Crovetti. “It’s cutting edge.”

The new network is designed as a high-performance spine-leaf architecture based on 40 Gigabit Ethernet, allowing seamless workload migration between each data centre. This ability to migrate quickly between the sites means vastly improved business continuity in the event of a disaster, because one site can take on the work of another at a moment’s notice.

Brembo and Dell EMC worked together using Dell EMC’s proprietary “as is, to be” consulting methodology to establish a design. Dell EMC then led the deployment of the entire solution, which is backed by ProSupport. “Dell EMC provides exceptional consulting and responsive support. This helps us pioneer new technology that can bring impressive return on investment,” says Crovetti.

Brembo is now free to continue driving innovation safe in the knowledge that its IT systems and data are secure in the event of a disaster. Business continuity has vastly improved, with a recovery time objective of just 30 minutes, compared to 4 hours previously, and a recovery point objective slashed from 30 minutes to 1 minute.

By having two data centres working in parallel, Brembo IT staff can perform maintenance work in one data centre while the other is still running. Thanks to this configuration, the company has boosted overall system uptime from 98 to 99 per cent. “Furthermore, we’ve reduced the amount of time needed to perform maintenance by 50 per cent,” adds Crovetti, “and upgrades can be made without any service interruption. End users don’t even notice anything’s been done.”

Despite doubling the size of the IT infrastructure, the company didn’t need to increase the number of staff required to manage it. Crovetti says, “A small team can manage multiple tasks, which helps to minimise response times, and improve flexibility, availability and service-level agreements.”

Double the performance, but still saving money

By investing in the latest generation of data-centre hardware, Brembo has made impressive savings while increasing processing power and keeping its IT budget at the same level. It’s halved the space required for its hardware, even though it now has two data-centre sites. The company has also lowered cooling costs by 30 per cent, and delivered savings of around €30,000 on power consumption because its new Dell EMC hardware is much more energy efficient. At the same time, it can now handle double the number of virtual machines with the addition of a second data centre.

Accelerated HPC performance

Brembo implemented a new HPC cluster comprising four Dell EMC PowerEdge R720 servers with Intel Xeon processors and eight Dell EMC PowerEdge C6220 II servers, as well as Dell EMC storage and networking. Crovetti and colleagues benefited from a remote proof of concept with the Dell EMC Solution Center in Austin, Texas. Crovetti says, “Working closely with Dell EMC has been instrumental to the success of our HPC solution. We’ve doubled the power of our HPC cluster and set out a roadmap for future breakthrough technology.”