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Ducati and NetApp build a data fabric to accelerate innovation, deliver high performance and win races

Ducati and NetApp build a data fabric to accelerate innovation, deliver high performance and win races

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In the competitive, fast-paced world of high-end motorcycle manufacturing, rapid innovation is foundational to success. Ducati knew that the data being generated by its bikes around every turn and straightaway — both on the track and on the street — could be captured and used to optimise racing performance while helping elevate the full, 360-degree experience that the company delivers to loyal customers worldwide.

Ducati is defined by sleek Italian design, MotoGP domination and curve-hugging (and chequered flagged) motorcycles that are iconic of high-end performance worldwide. Since its founding in 1926, the company has designed every one of its bikes in Bologna, Italy. Ducati meticulously manufactured just over 55,000 motorcycles in 2018. To put that into perspective, one of its primary competitors — both on and off the track —sold approximately 19.5 million motorcycles in the same year.

“Our biggest challenge is competing with global companies that produce millions of vehicles per year, while innovating faster than our competitors,” said Stefano Rendina, IT Manager, Ducati Corse.

Although Ducati might be an underdog in marketing dollars spent, the company more than makes up for it in the volume of performance data gathered, both on and off the track. The data is dynamic, diverse and distributed, structured and unstructured, streaming in real time around the world and stored on servers, and Ducati needed a way to tap into its full value.

Rendina commented: “Data was crucial to accelerating our success, both on the track and in the design and management of our products and services. That’s why we were looking for a partner like NetApp, to accelerate our Digital Transformation journey using a mix of solid technologies, leaving us free to leverage any opportunity in the cloud.”

Using race-day analytics as a catalyst for consumer innovation

Starting on the racetrack and eventually moving to the open road, Ducati tapped into the data-generating opportunity from every straightaway and s-curve. By equipping its MotoGP racing bikes with more than 60 physical sensors, Ducati captured performance data from every possible angle. Using NetApp HCI and high-performance computing cluster, engineers conducted telemetry processing directly inside the box — on the track during tests, accelerating the development and improving the effectiveness of the private and official tests. The technology also allowed engineers to perform deeper analysis in research and development to improve every detail of the racing bikes and the product bikes.

Rendina said: “NetApp HCI provided us with huge speed and capacity that we can now use to not only manage the branch operations, but also to perform data analysis on site during tests, free practices, qualifying and in the race. In this way, we can support our official and satellite teams with the same technology and guarantee better performances to all Ducati bikes on track in MotoGP.”

Based on the company’s success with NetApp technologies, Ducati rolled out the concept of ‘connected bikes’ to consumers, initially harnessing and analysing performance data from more than 15,000 motorcycles around the world. And that’s just the beginning according to Konstantin Kosternarov, Chief Technology Officer, Ducati Motor Holding. “By the end of 2020, we might be able to collect data from over 150,000 bikes, accelerating knowledge transfer from the road to product development as we currently do from races to the product bike.”

Thanks to NetApp high-performance computing and by moving data to a hybrid cloud, Ducati has reduced by 30% the time required to develop prototypes and get new motorcycles to market. By leveraging these speed-to-market benefits, combined with the wealth of data insights gained through participation in MotoGP, Ducati has been able to bring many of the game-changing innovations from the track to the consumer market, offering loyal fans a next-level riding experience on their street-legal road bikes.

“We increased our performance and improved cost efficiencies in ways we never imagined. The data is taking us in a new direction that will take the company to new heights,” Kosternarov said.

In addition to the improvements in product and experience innovation, Ducati reduced the cost of powering and cooling the company’s data centre by 70%.

A winning strategy for better data control, disaster recovery and security

NetApp HCI also enabled Ducati to leverage the enterprise-class features of NetApp ONTAP software, helping to improve the sophistication of the company’s data management strategy, including versioning, security and NetApp Snapshot copies. It gained the ability to integrate NetApp HCI with Active Directory to simplify and automate the management of data access.

With improved application of data comes a deeper understanding of the importance of a powerful data security strategy, including an effective disaster recovery solution.

Kosternarov commented: “NetApp provides us with solid foundations to guarantee data protection and integration with the main data protection software solutions. As we are approaching Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), NetApp will be able to guarantee that this data is retained and protected. We are widely using applications like Office 365 and Salesforce.com, and in the future, NetApp will support us with cloud data services to ensure data mobility and availability to our users.”

Positioned to thrive in a hybrid, multicloud world

To meet its storage demands, Ducati chose NetApp AFF to help consolidate a wide range of workloads and more than 200 applications. This consolidation makes all of the data assets available in a single, unified system that offers optimal productivity, minimal footprint and improved access to all the enterprise-grade functionalities to meet the company’s needs. NetApp’s assistance with Ducati’s data centre modernisation led to new opportunities outside of the engineering and design departments that Ducati might never have imagined otherwise.

Overall, Ducati has worked with the NetApp team on four projects to date: data centre consolidation, a high-performance computing cluster renewal, the implementation of a disaster recovery and data protection strategy and the research for a new IT infrastructure model to support all of the company’s branches.

Rendina said: “For all these projects with NetApp, we achieved great results in three primary areas: footprint reduction, data awareness and speed. Our high-performance cluster reduced footprint by 20 times and our entire data centre had an overall reduction of seven times. With compaction, deduplication and compression, we could achieve a data optimisation of 27:1 for some workloads and of at least 10:1 overall.”

Understanding the transformative value of the data fabric

According to Kosternarov: “Once we consolidated our data centre, we understood that data could be used by a wider group of users. This led us to perform an assessment of our data capital to enable engineering, marketing and sales. We’re able to leverage the potential of data more broadly. We could not do this before we reshaped our data centre.”

As NetApp and Ducati continue to develop their partnership, they will work together to discover new ways to leverage Ducati’s Data Fabric to drive and inspire innovation across every aspect of Ducati’s pace-setting global organisation, including the potential for Machine Learning and AI opportunities.

Kosternarov voiced his aspirations: “NetApp is one of the few companies we know that can help virtually every part of our business. Data is only the beginning. NetApp has showed us the power of its comprehensive suite of solutions, from all-flash storage systems to HCI to all opportunities offered by cloud data services. NetApp has helped us capitalise on today’s business opportunities while we innovate for tomorrow.”

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