Tomasz Zajda -

BA in major network switch

British Airways is to outsource the design, implementation and management of an all-new IP-based network to Siemens Network Systems

British Airways (BA) is to outsource the design, implementation and management of an all-new internet protocol (IP)-based network to Siemens Network Systems.

The three-year contract will see Siemens replace the existing Token Ring set-up with a 500-switch Gigabit Ethernet network covering 70 offices, terminals and cargo facilities at the airline's Heathrow and Gatwick bases.

A BA spokeswoman said: “We are effectively future-proofing our network for some time to come. It is a challenge, however, as the project means wholesale replacement of business-critical networks.”

Building the network will entail the installation of 1,200 cabinets and 3,000km of cabling through 500 communications rooms in 93 buildings on the Heathrow and Gatwick sites.

Last year, 5,000 changes were made to BA’s network, which comprises 37,000 ports, and network mapping had to be carried out manually.

Siemens product manager Mark Wilkins said the contract offers a unique chance to achieve a high level of integration. “The start of the roll-out is imminent and all the systems are new. It is effectively a greenfield site for us,” he added.

Benefits for the airline centre on the reduction in network management overheads resulting from the greater automation of processes involved, the ability to reconfigure the network more easily and the future-proofing of the network by adopting IP.

Management of the system will be highly automated using an intelligent network management tool from Riversoft.

The software identifies the network topology and produces reports without the need for network manager to intervene and can locate faults quickly.

Other components to be used by Siemens on the contract include Infovista, which monitors and reports on performance levels and availability throughout the network, and Orchestream, which is a tool for configuring IP networks to ensure performance levels of key applications.

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