Lufthansa Systems modernises its datacentre for higher efficiency

Lufthansa Systems modernised its datacentres to host applications more robustly for its customers

Lufthansa Systems, the company that provides IT services to airlines, wanted to modernise its datacentres to host more aviation and industrial applications and make availability more reliable.

“We host a lot of critical applications for the aviation industry such as flight planning solution and weather forecast tools,” said Bardo Werum, senior vice president for infrastructure at Lufthansa Systems.

The old datacentre was not efficient enough to serve the growing needs of its customers, he said. “But we also wanted a cost-effective solution because we were operating on a very tight budget,” he added.

With high-availability of systems and a datacentre upgrade at low cost as its main criteria, Lufthansa Systems’ IT team approached several suppliers including Cisco, HP, IBM and Dell.

It then selected Dell’s infrastructure as the base to run Microsoft Windows Server 2012. It upgraded its datacentre with Dell’s 12th generation PowerEdge blade servers running Windows Server 2012 and connected to Dell PowerVault direct attached storage arrays. “We were already using Dell products and using its systems for the upgrade would give us a highly standardised infrastructure,” Werum said.

It was also easy to migrate and brought the total cost of IT ownership down “substantially”, he said.

As a full service provider, Lufthansa Systems supports its customers along the entire IT process chain – from consulting services to developing, implementing customised solutions as well as running applications in its own datacentres.

“Our customers need cost-effective, stable platforms for their applications,” he said.

The IT team focused on building a reliable and flexible foundation for technology solutions that will support future growth.

With the help of Dell, the IT team designed an upgraded datacentre infrastructure built around Windows Server 2012. During the testing phase, it connected the PowerEdge M620 blade servers to Dell PowerVault MD3220i iSCSI direct attached storage.

The team then received scripts from Dell that made it quick to install new machines using tools such as Symantec Altiris Deployment Solution. “As we can deploy new hardware in a single click, we can develop solutions for customers faster,” he said.

The ability to expand its cluster volume and increase virtual machine density quickly meant that the IT team could host more customer applications on the same hardware saving itself more money.

For instance, it could quickly scale up from a four-node Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V cluster to a 16-node cluster in a single blade enclosure at its German datacentre.

The move to new generation IT infrastructure has brought several other benefits to Lufthansa Systems. The increased memory capacity has helped it boost server performance. “This means we can respond quickly when customers need to scale their workloads,” Werum said.

Its aviation customers wanted to access systems and applications in real time. After the datacentre upgrade with Microsoft System Center 2012 - Virtual Machine Manager, the company is able to migrate servers between clusters and improve load balancing.

“We can meet the growing need for both developing and hosting applications without the need to expand our physical infrastructure.”

The IT team has also made its datacentre more energy efficient with the upgrade. Using Dell’s management tools, it is able to determine the amount of power consumed by each server and thereby cut energy consumption.

But most importantly, the datacentre upgrade has allowed Lufthansa Systems’ IT to run its own applications as a service from its in-house facility. “That’s what’s unique about our upgrade and it makes it cheaper for our customers to access aviation applications,” Werum said.

"Dell PowerEdge M620 blades provided a good price to performance ratio and lowered our cost of ownership,” Werum said. “This is not only reducing operating costs, but is also enabling us to invest more resources in developing new services, while retaining competitive pricing.” The IT team is now looking to implement private cloud infrastructure and embrace IT consumerisation tools in the upgraded datacentre.

Currently, Dell is proving to be cost effective but if that changes, Lufthansa Systems will look for another supplier because primarily the datacentre upgrade was a cost-decision, added Werum.

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