The European Space Agency (ESA) is an international organization of European countries, established in 1975. It was created from the merger of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) and the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO). The ESA consists of 22 countries, including one from outside the continent – Canada. Poland joined the organization in 2013.
The main goals of ESA, which employs around 1,900 people, are similar to its American twin NASA, to explore and use space. The headquarters of the organization is in Paris, and the individual elements of the Agency are located in associated countries. The ESA spaceport is located in Kourou, French Guiana.
Since its inception, the European Space Agency has carried out several space missions related to both research and commercial purposes, such as EGNOS and Galileo, which are satellite systems supporting GPS navigation.One of the most important projects is “Outer Space and Major Disasters”, which was launched in 2000. It consists in using various types of satellites to obtain data transferred to humanitarian organizations in the event of major disasters – both natural and man-made. The system was used for the first time during the catastrophic flood in France in December 2001.
Our task is to provide the hosting and implement the elements of the aforementioned “Outer Space and Major Disasters” project. This involves maintaining a very large, redundant server environment, which plays an important role in counteracting the effects of disasters throughout the planet.
The most important elements of such a structure must be absolute availability and protection against any possible infrastructure and network problems.
The entire project is based on two Data Centers whose environments we had to merge into one. It is one of the largest projects in the history of our company.
At the same time, in addition to the above-mentioned works, even before starting the project, we had to meet the extremely stringent requirements of the European Space Agency. These included the preparation of business continuity procedures and the acquisition of further data security certificates.
In addition, all technical employees responsible for maintaining the ESA server environment had to demonstrate very broad competences in managing both the primary and backup environment.
The environment dedicated to monitoring the humanitarian situation on our planet consists of several dozen powerful dedicated servers based on Intel Xeon W, Intel Xeon Silver processors, up to 192 GB of RAM (a total of 3360 GB of RAM), and fast SSD disks with a total capacity of 50 TB and 80 TB of HDD.
In addition, the infrastructure is complemented by hundreds of virtual machines (Proxmox virtualizer) with varied configurations. They are located in two real-time replicating server locations.
The whole is protected on both sides of the network by 4 redundant Fortigate 60E integrated security systems. Thanks to the high throughput of the device (Firewall 3000 Mbit/s, VPN up to 2000 Mbit/s, IPS/IDS up to 1400 Mbit/s) and support for up to 2 million parallel sessions, we are sure that the IT infrastructure prepared for ESA is resistant to cyber attacks.
The environments run asynchronous data replication on an ongoing basis, which ensures – in the event of a failure and the need to switch the system to a backup center – 100% service continuity.
Due to its uniqueness, the solution also required non-standard actions from us. An example is the implementation of graphics cards on some of the resources that are used for imaging and graphic processing of data.
The infrastructure also has an exit to the Microsoft Azure public cloud, on which virtual and backup machines were created. They serve as an additionally separate development environment.
On behalf of Data Space, I would like to thank the entire consortium involved in this implementation for their joint efforts. It is worth noting that during its implementation, we had the pleasure of working with the world's top brands.
In addition to ESA, these were also Airbus Defense & Space, TerraDue, Eversis, Taitus and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology.
Piotr Piaskowski, Business Development Manager