No clouds wanted when growing airport invests in IT infrastructure for the future

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Airports are extreme environments in many aspects, not least in terms of IT services. The worlds larger airports have millions of users, arriving and departing 24/7 365 days a year, with huge fluctuations in demand for IT services. Adding to this are, of course, extremely high security standards.

Providing IT infrastructure that meets the demands of an airport like this, that is also growing fast, is hard but it can be done. Brussels South Charleroi Airport in Belgium sets a great example with a fourfold increase in the number of travelers, from two to eight million, in just ten years.

“Eight million travelers involve large volumes of data. In order to enable passengers to board and take off safely and punctually, it is necessary to have an IT infrastructure that can handle huge volumes of data,” says Thomas Fercot, IT director of Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

Eight million travelers involve large volumes of data. In order to enable passengers to board and take off safely and punctually, it is necessary to have an IT infrastructure that can handle huge volumes of data.

Thomas Fercot, IT director of Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

In addition to this, business continuity is very important at an airport as business is literally continuous. While working behind the scenes, it is crucial in allowing passengers to board and planes to take off on time. There are huge amounts of data involved in making this happen which means high demands in terms of server, storage, networking and security.

Preferably no clouds at this airport

10 years ago, when cloud services were still quite immature, the airport decided to partner up with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Since then, HPE has been taking care of the server and storage environment as well as security.

As a storage solution, the airport now uses the all-flash HPE 3PAR StoreServ and are doing a refresh with new HPE servers. And even though cloud services have matured significantly in these ten years, the airport opted to build redundancy with two brand new datacenters with a clear preference for on-site IT infrastructure.

On the infrastructure level, the cloud was not an option at all.

Thomas Fercot, IT director of Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

“On the infrastructure level, the cloud was not an option at all,” says Thomas Fercot. “The airport has two datacenters, with failover, and are handled as one infrastructure. This simplifies both monitoring and securing the datacenters and is a criterion that remains crucial for the airport.”

Read more about HPE 3PAR StoreServ – AI-powered storage for mission-critical workloads

The demands are high – and increasing

With that said, some data like the Data Management Platform, or DMP, which is used for collecting and managing data is in the cloud. In the event of a failure though, HPE’s StoreOnce data storage solution ensures backup and archiving in the cloud. A belt and suspenders mindset is a necessity in order to secure business operations.

”The crux of the matter is that we are a very demanding company in terms of IT. Not to mention the fact that the IT environment is rapidly growing,” says Thomas Fercot.

In HPE, the airport claims to have found a partner that offers a platform that can evolve quickly and at the same time anticipate its customers’ future needs.

“The priority for us is to assure 24/7 availability. Without this availability, an airport risks facing huge problems. Unfortunately, errors and failures do still occur in an environment with such high demands as ours and the need for support is sometimes very urgent. So, a partner who can respond quickly really makes the difference, and that’s exactly what HPE does,” says Thomas Fercot on a finishing note.


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