BAA reaches halfway in major IT consolidation

Number of applications slashed from 2,300 to 540 and per-seat costs down as support calls are reduced

Airports authority BAA has reached the halfway point of a project to build the IT system for Heathrow Terminal 5, which is due to open in 2008.   

The company has completely overhauled its IT system over the past three years, with the new terminal in mind. It reduced the number of applications from 2,300 to about 540. Of these, 99 are now delivered via Citrix Metaframe to locked-down Wyse thin clients. 

These network-based applications include Office XP, Lotus Notes 6.5, Adobe Acrobat and 63 web applications. 

In three years, BAA has migrated 8,500 users in seven airports and other sites to the new system. Heathrow alone has 7,500 desktops, 2,873 laptops, 230 Unix servers and 800 Intel servers. It relies on two datacentres, at Gatwick and Heathrow. 

BAA services and support manager Kevin Mercer said, "BAA has £7bn planned investment over the next 11 years, and we will have to underpin it with IT." 

Technical services manager Tim Matthew said the IT team chose to move to server-based computing using Citrix so that it could cut costs and avoid having to upgrade and recode legacy applications. It also consolidated its IT service suppliers and now uses just Computacenter. 

In 2003, BAA rolled out Windows 2000 and Active Directory across its Intel servers, consolidating all servers and storage at two sites. It also ran a Citrix desktop pilot, which received a mixed reaction. "A lot of people at BAA had a lot of control over their desktop and the personalisation factor became a big issue to us," said Matthew.  

But the IT department persevered with server-based computing and rolled out Citrix across the whole of BAA last year. This helped cut the cost per seat by 28%, logged service desk calls by  11%, and second-line desktop support calls by 43%. Desktop deployment lead times have halved since the Citrix system was implemented. 

Mercer said, "The network is more important now we are running Citrix over it, so we need to add management and monitoring tools." In the autumn, BAA hopes to implement Citrix Metaframe 4.0, to accomplish this.


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