Brisbane Airport Corporation goes virtual with Cisco, EMC and VMware

Brisbane Airport Corporation sought "five nines" reliability and a reduced carbon footprint.

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC), operator and developer of Brisbane Airport, chose virtualisation technology by Cisco, EMC and VMware to improve operational efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint, the airport’s technology manger, Stephen Tukavkin, said at a lunch in Sydney.

Brisbane Airport serves more than 21 million passengers, 420 businesses 20,000 workers and 27 airlines. It has two data centres supporting a variety of business-critical apps, including business intelligence, corporate data warehouse and corporate applications like Microsoft Exchange, Tukavkin said.

“Our airport operations are highly critical,” operating 24 hours and seven days a week, he said. The biggest challenge was to develop a platform that could provide “five nines” reliability, he said.

Tukavkin estimated that BAC manages about a half a petabyte of data and it’s “growing exponentially”. Usage of applications has increased, putting more load on the system, he said. For example, following the Big Data trend, he said BAC is looking more critically at the business intelligence data it collects.

BAC began virtualising servers about three years ago, Tukavkin said. It was using IBM X-Series servers but found them “a bit cumbersome to manage” and “it wasn’t as scalable as we would have liked it to be [for] provisioning new services moving forward”.

BAC chose Corpnet by Logicalis to deploy a private cloud on the Cisco unified computing system, Cisco Nexus switches, the EMC VNX storage system and VMware vSphere server virtualisation software.

The mix allows BAC to more easily add physical servers and applications, Tukavkin said. “We’ve got one single plane of glass to manage not only one server but the whole chassis [and] all of the servers.

“If we do have a host that does fail, we can simply replace with it a hot spare … whereas in the past it would take a lot longer to reprovision that host with new hardware.” Now it takes “minutes,” he said.

In addition, the new technology stack provides power savings that simultaneously reduce costs and the airport’s negative environmental impact, Tuvakvin said. He estimated there’s so far been a 20 per cent reduction in the airport’s carbon footprint, but cautioned it’s still “early days”.

BAC has also seen operational efficiencies: “This has really helped my team to effectively manage this new computing environment without having to go to separate management consoles,” while also increasing “the productivity and troubleshooting capabilities.”

The technology mix has helped BAC in two key projects to implement CCTV and a new airport operations database, Tukavkin said, with a project to implement virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in the design stages.

BAC has now virtualised 80 per cent of its environment “and have a future strategy of virtualising the rest of the infrastructure,” he added.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia