Case Study: TreviIcos

The Most Critical Infrastructure Project of 2009. Powered by Aileron

It had all the earmarks of potential disaster.  Kentucky’s Wolf Creek Dam bordered on collapse, the effects of which could be catastrophic.  In 2008, the project was deemed to be #1 infrastructure priority of the United States government, and fast tracked to development by the Army Corps of Engineers. 

October, 2008, The Aileron Group was awarded this prestigious, $500 million contract by the Army Corps to develop the technological infrastructure for this critical, 5 year project; an undertaking that would encompass three countries, two construction firms and the creation of the most technologically advanced communications and IT systems infrastructure and data network in the region within a matter of weeks.

Far from the small, temporary remote-location sites of general construction projects, the Treviicos Solentache Joint Venture (TSJV) at the Wolf Creek Dam required connection of three disparate IT networks, in three countries to one secured site location that would ultimately accommodate a fully functioning permanent office, complete with a staff of 50 permanent and temporary employees ranging from geophysical engineers to office managers.

The Challenges

While the project offered unlimited hazards, it also offered a breadth and scope of unprecedented opportunity for Aileron to facilitate and act as key central resource for the most essential public works project in the nation.  Once the project was proposed, the Aileron team set to work researching each element required to ensure the speed and security required of the work.

For successful establishment of temporary and permanent communications portals, key challenges needed to be overcome.

Location

The Wolf Creek Dam in Jamestown, Kentucky is approximately 2 hours from any major city, yet required a state of the art communications system that would require the most technologically advanced data network within miles. This challenge would be further complicated by the need for both an initial, temporary systemic installation followed by a permanent facility.

Timing

Once awarded, TSJV was fast tracked. The Aileron group was at the temporary site location within two weeks to implement and support the core TSJV team, while it began strategic planning and development of the networking for the permanent location. This site was completed, to accommodate up to 50 full time employees for the minimum of 5 years, was fully implemented within just 2 months.

Cultural

TSJV is a collaboration between the Italian concern Treviicos, France’s Solentache Corporation and Treviicos US. Each company brought with it its own IT hardware and software systems, its own language and corporate cultures. Aileron was tasked with bridging these three groups securely and seamlessly for a complex dam building intiative anticipated to last for at least 5 years.

Data Security & Storage

The TSJV project presented unique challenges concerning data storage and information security. On one hand, there was a need to maintain all project and financial data (approaching 1 terabyte+) locally for quick access by project management. On the other hand, the site location in a rural area known for severe weather and limited technical resources raised real concerns around network uptime and data security. Aileron’s approach was to leverage server virtualization, data replication, WAN optimization, and good old-fashioned redundancy to develop a bulletproof disaster prevention strategy. Aileron examined all levels of infrastructure — from physical hardware to virtualization high-availability to high speed data connections — and was able to create a robust environment that can be completely managed remotely from the Boston headquarters. Addiontially this environment could aslo be recreated at a disaster recovery site in less than a single day. Information security is maintained by ensuring that all data is continuously backed up and replicated offsite, and requires no interaction by local personnel.

Vendor Management

Both for the temporary facilities and for the permanent site, Aileron would be required to negotiate and coordinate with vendors for VOIP telephone, video conferencing and the MPLS circuit through Verizon Business Services.

The Process

Discovery

To fully understand the project and the systems technology it would require, Aileron did its homework even before the work was awarded. A core team coordinated to dissect the problem, researching various potential and real challenges that would need to be addressed.  They took the broad approach, investigating the very different corporate cultures, the way each office worked, speaking to end users through C-level executives to understand the project and better facilitate the exact systems and technological requirements for all parties involved. This advance work went into their initial architecture document on project standards, goals and infrastructural components that would have the TSJV office fully functioning on day one. 

Strategic Coordination

In order to function, the joint venture would have to run efficiently as one company.  This required a range of negotiations to establish core protocol and practices. A series of C-level conversations between the two companies, in all three countries, led by Aileron, helped to iron out key infrastructure elements essential to the project. 

No element of the end user experience was left on the table; pros and cons for each side were established and decided upon from everything from vendors through email addresses. A common language was established, and a system of working TSJV protocol developed.  The question that drove Aileron?  What would the impact be to the people involved, the companies and the staff, on a day to day basis?  Would their data be stored safely?  Would security be rock solid.  Ultimately, would end users at every level, at any location, be able to log on instantly and get to work.

The Result

Aileron developed and implemented the networking infrastructure for the temporary TSJV site in November, 2008.  We deployed the server, internet, phone, hardware and printers that would enable construction to begin. 

The TSJV permanent site was fully implemented on budget, on schedule in April 2009. It involved the full scope of Aileron capabilities; strategic planning, networking, implementation and support of the largest construction project of its kind in history. The project bridged continents, languages, and hurdles as wide ranging as cultural
Aileron took on all project management of communications infrastructure, including vendor management. 

In its role as IT provider, Aileron acted as the central resource driving the coordinated TSJV working structure. 

Aileron handled all RFPs for wiring, phone and video conferencing. They defined project perimeters, added technical requirements, researched each company and bid, presented all demos and preferred vendors to the senior TSJV team.

This was followed by the implementation of the move from temporary permanent facility. At each major junction, the full dimension of Aileron’s skilled business-based approach to systems development led a well articulated, well managed implementation. Coordinated to extraordinary detail, Aileron provided key oversight of the telephony, wiring and full systemic technology that would offer the project seamless transition.

This attention to detail, the broad yet dynamic understanding of the business needs, the cultural and corporate requirements and depth of technological understanding marks the Aileron difference. Through their continuing work, supporting the TSJV project to its completion, the company is a business partner and technological resource essential to achieving its goals.