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SITA and Orange Business Services check in for SD-WAN at global airports

Global mobile network operator and IT provider for the air transport industry roll out agile and scalable software-defined network already introduced at more than 60 airports globally

The aviation industry, in general, may still be buffeted by the severe turbulence from the Covid-19 pandemic, but in terms of networking, the experience offered to those running airports has gained altitude through a partnership between SITA and Orange Business Services.

The global telco and the IT provider for the air transport industry have implemented a multi-tenant edge software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) platform at more than 60 airports globally through SITA’s airport-wide, shared connectivity platform AirportHub.

Already deployed in almost 600 airports worldwide and available to airlines globally, AirportHub is designed to enable airlines to connect to their applications and systems, wherever they’re hosted. These include linking corporate applications and key systems, as well as to the internet, integrating with airport baggage, passenger and back-office applications, no matter who provides them.

Under the terms of the partnership, by using the Orange Business Services’ Flexible SD-WAN portfolio, the SITA Connect SDN (software-defined network) solution can allow multiple airlines, ground handlers and other tenants to access the same virtualised infrastructure in the cloud, delivering what the partners say is more scalable and agile connectivity. They add this will drive greater cost efficiencies and support the airline industry’s drive to migrate applications to the cloud.

Sydney International Airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Zurich Airport are among the 60 airports that have already been upgraded to the SD-WAN that is currently being rolled out to cover most airline destinations. The solution’s agility and scalability is also said to be able to address unpredictable passenger and aircraft traffic volumes amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in a cost-effective, more flexible way.

Through Connect SDN, SITA said it can provide on-demand bandwidth while optimising costs by using multiple transport technologies in an application-driven network, with real-time visibility and control over the network.

In addition, SITA Connect SDN is attributed with further reducing the cost of running a global network environment by making dedicated hardware platforms redundant while making use of internet connectivity. Capital expenditure is reduced by cutting down on expensive network hardware upgrades, with technological advances largely confined to software upgrades.

“SITA Connect SDN is a technological innovation, leveraging state-of-the-art, future-proof technology to serve our industry needs,” said SITA at Airports and Borders CEO David Lavorel. “In addition to the cost-optimisation and scalability that are so important to airlines in the current market, we expect, with this new technology, airport and airline applications will move to the cloud en masse while increasing automation.”

Anne-Marie Thiollet, vice-president of Orange Business Services Connectivity Solutions, added: “Through our long-standing partnership with SITA, we have delivered technologies and innovation to the air transport industry since 2001. When we started this project at the end of 2019, we could not imagine just how critical flexibility and connectivity would become in the industry. We are confident that this evolution – leveraging the full potential of SDN technologies – has come at the right time.”

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