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Airport authority cuts server deployment time with Dell’s Active Infrastructure

Archana Venkatraman

Indianapolis airport authority has reduced its server deployment time from three days to less than one hour by upgrading its aging datacentre with Dell’s Active Infrastructure system.

At its enterprise forum customer event, Dell introduced a slew of converged infrastructure products, including additions to its Active Infrastructure portfolio.

Indianapolis airport authority has been piloting the use of the Active Infrastructure system. The study has yielded benefits such as datacentre consolidation, savings in power and cooling costs and increased rate of server virtualisation.

“We own Indiana’s largest airport and having a flexible IT was key to our business – but it was a big challenge,” said Joe Miller, the airport authority’s IT director.

“We just have a handful of IT staff and most of the time they were busy spinning up servers.” Each server provisioning task would take up to three days.

“With six airports in the Indianapolis metropolitan area that service more than 7 million passengers each year, our small IT team was looking for ways to improve datacentre efficiency, streamline operations and strengthen IT service quality."

The airport authority was using box servers and Miller wanted to overhaul its IT infrastructure for efficiency, flexibility, cost savings and to enable the IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks than spinning up servers.

“We looked at Dell and Cisco products for the project as we had state contracts with these two IT providers,” he told Computer Weekly.

“But our network infrastructure is Brocade-based and Cisco does not work well with Brocade, so we opted for Dell."

Indianapolis airport authority chose to deploy Dell’s Active Infrastructure system in its datacentre to speed up the server provisioning time and make its IT more flexible and agile, Miller said.

The Active Infrastructure portfolio includes a management tool called Active System Manager.

The new infrastructure gave the team benefits such as IT automation. “As a result, today spinning up servers takes less than an hour and the staff is able to focus more on other strategic tasks such as aligning IT infrastructure to the business objectives,” he said.

The airport authority reduced its datacentre footprint as well. “We could consolidate our datacentre and shrink its physical size from five rows to three racks.

“This consolidation helped us save 10% on datacentre power and cooling costs,” said Miller.

The datacentre upgrade helped the IT team accelerate the virtualisation rate in its infrastructure. “We were only 40% virtualised but we will have achieved more than 95% virtualisation before the end of 2013, which will help us yield the benefits of virtualisation too,” Miller said.

Indianapolis airport authority cut administrative staff costs by 20%.

“The efficiencies we’ve achieved have allowed us to focus our efforts on strategic projects that will drive increased revenue for the airport authority.”

Taking the datacentre upgrade project to its next stage, Miller and his team are now looking to use Active System Manager’s reporting tools for more benefits. “We will use it to see how malicious things are affecting our IT and it will help us resolve the issues quickly and also be better prepared for outages and downtime,” said Miller.

But one of the most crucial benefits of the project is that the airport authority’s robust IT environment can support the needs of regional airlines and server their technology needs, Miller explained.

“We are looking to expand our business by having more regional airlines but lacking in IT services meant that we couldn’t support the airlines’ IT requirements. But that has now changed,” Miller said.

Miller has private cloud computing and desktop virtualisation projects in the pipeline too. The airport authority has started using cloud services for disaster recovery and backup tasks and will gradually move more services to the cloud.

“We are now turning our attention to VDI and are already looking at Citrix and VMware’s products in the area,” Miller said.


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