SNCF propels its digital transformation through massive, industrial and selective Multi-Cloud adoption

| minute read

In 2016, the SNCF group, which operates in the passenger and freight transport sectors with 275,000 employees, decided to modernise and make its IT assets more agile by launching the Programme Renouveau du Socle Numérique, PRSN, for which e.SNCF is the prime contractor. This programme includes a Cloud component aimed at accelerating digital transformation via the emergence of new IoT and Big Data/Analytics applications while controlling costs. The group's information systems previously totalled 4 datacentres, more than 700 regional machine rooms and 14,800 servers. This meant an annual IT budget in excess of one billion euros.

Client Stakes

The SNCF's IT infrastructure must therefore be concentrated on a new generation datacenter, known as Greenfield, and a disaster recovery site. The aim is to keep only 20 regional machine rooms, in order to improve the carbon footprint, while saving up to €400 million per year.

To better serve its business units, the SNCF group has initiated a digital transformation project based on a "Cloud First" approach with the objective of migrating 90% of its application assets to the Cloud while modernising a large part of them. 

To support this industrial project, Sopra Steria Next participated in setting up a "Cloud Migration Factory" for a scope of 200 applications entrusted to Third Party Application Maintenance, with a twofold challenge: to respect a very tight schedule and to agree on a joint approach with the SNCF's two other IT partners, who are also in charge of part of these assets.

A high-speed rail migration to the Cloud

To meet this project, Sopra Steria studied the implementation of a migration factory. The two-year transformation programme provides for :

30% of the group's 1,425 applications will be migrated to a private cloud, based on VMware, located in Greenfield,

45% to be upgraded and hosted in the public cloud with pre-selected CSPs such as AWS, Microsoft Azure or IBM Cloud, 

15%, which are physical servers, be moved to a new datacenter and the remaining 10% be decommissioned.

The mission to set up the Cloud Migration Factory covers the analysis of the SNCF's IT assets, via a Discovery Assessment mission, the definition of target private and public Cloud architectures, the construction and testing of the software factory according to DevOps principles, and the organisation and management of the Migration Factory. 

The applications will be partly modernised to remove the technical debt and some middleware bricks will be switched to "Platform as a Service".

The migration scenarios were orchestrated in accordance with the SNCF group's multi-cloud strategy, according to eligibility criteria linked to the interest of the business lines for these applications, their technological obsolescence, their security levels and the portability of their licences. This approach has maximised ROI by promoting full rehosting and light reforming approaches that reduce technological debt, improve security and define new standards optimised for the Cloud, without technological lock-in.

Transforming the IS and the culture of the SNCF teams

The Cloud is also a profound change in culture towards an optimised time-to-market and an improved customer experience through better application scalability.

Sopra Steria Next's teams have thus supported e.SNCF in an approach combining Agile and DevOps principles, with particular emphasis on automation and standardisation (CI/CD, Infra as code). Sopra Steria has thus contributed to the implementation of a new financial model (FinOps) powered by the 

Sopra Steria has thus contributed to the implementation of a new financial model (FinOps) feeding a catalogue of services and establishing new benchmarks for the SNCF group's teams.

This approach was piloted and then rolled out to all 12 of the SNCF Group's IT departments.

Once the Cloud Migration Factory was completed, one of the SNCF Group's other challenges was to ensure control of the factory and have the associated know-how in-house. To meet this challenge, a support system was defined with experts from the Sopra Steria Cloud Center of Excellence to sustain the process over time.

The Cloud Migration Factory now forms the reference base for the migration and modernisation of applications provided by all three partner companies in charge of SNCF's IT assets. The latter have modified their respective contracts accordingly in order to integrate these new services.

The use cases driven by the SNCF group's digital transformation have thus found an industrial and innovative base, meeting their requirements in terms of time-to-market, scalability and resilience. The combination of Cloud technologies and this DevOps approach led by the Sopra Steria NEXT teams has resulted in a clear improvement in deployment frequency - from several months to a few days - and in SLAs.

Alongside the SNCF group's teams, Sopra Steria Next continues to support the advanced migration of the applications under its responsibility.

Why Sopra Steria?

We offer a multidisciplinary, end-to-end approach

Sopra Steria has differentiated itself through its Cloud know-how (Sopra Steria Cloud Center of Excellence), its agile skills, its DevOps culture and its collaborative mindset. 

Sopra Steria's teams were mobilised in an end-to-end approach to meet the challenges of the Migration Factory programme: digital transformation consulting, application and infrastructure skills, and solution integration.


For IT teams:

  • Reduction of the Datacenter footprint, from 4 to 2 and the associated carbon footprint,
  • Reduction in technical debt and associated security risks,
  • Expected savings of several tens of millions of euros per year,
  • Enhanced innovation capacity through the services provided by AWS, Microsoft
  • Azure and IBM Cloud; provision of sandboxes.

For business teams:

  • Modernisation of applications as they move to the cloud and standardisation of architectures for new applications,
  • Better alignment with business expectations through the adoption of agile principles,
  • Reduced time-to-market for new applications through DevOps approaches.


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