Keeping IT in Order

31 August 2006 (Last Updated August 31st, 2006 18:30)

Managing the IT systems for a major European airport, as well as the 520 or so businesses operating there. This is just a normal day's work for the Munich International Airport IT department. Tracey Kifford reports on how it is handling the airport's rapid growth.

Keeping IT in Order

Munich International Airport (Franz Josef Strauss International Airport) is operated by Flughagen München GmbH (FMG). Located 28km northeast of Munich in Germany, it is the second most important airport in Germany and the eighth busiest in Europe, handling 28.6 million passengers in 2006.

In 2003 the airport opened a second terminal, doubling its annual capacity to 50 million passengers. With a passenger growth rate of 6–7%, its IT department needs to continuously upgrade and customise its major business processes to accommodate the increasing scale of operations.

Harald Ranner, vice president of the projects and development support division in IT at Munich Airport, says: "For IT this means updating programs and applications, some of which need to be custom developed or integrated into our systems. The IT infrastructure must evolve to manage the additional data that expansion demands."

A LARGE-SCALE OPERATION

With 174 employees and an external turnover of €13m per annum, the IT department provides services for over 520 businesses also operating from the airport.

Currently, the airport's IT systems involve 2,500 PCs and workstations, 11,400 LAN connections, 210 servers in two data centres, 12,500 telephones, 1,700 CCTV cameras, 2,400 flight information displays, 400 different applications and 90 terabytes of storage. The infrastructure uses standard operating systems, such as UNIX and Windows, as well as airport-exclusive control systems.

THE IT INFRASTRUCTURE LIBRARY

"The key goal of our ITIL-based IT service management system was to eliminate weaknesses."

The first step in managing the IT systems is via the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which aids the implementation of a framework for IT service management. This customisable framework defines how service management is applied.

The ITIL is organised into a series of sets, which are divided into two main areas: service support and service delivery. Service support enables IT services to be provided effectively while service delivery covers the management of the IT services.

Ranner explains: "The ITIL was introduced in 2004 for a number of processes in our IT operations department. We soon realised that we also needed to integrate our IT development department to optimise processes in change management and incident/problem management. The key goal of our ITIL-based IT service management system was to eliminate weaknesses and identify common parts in our processes throughout the organisation."

COORDINATED INTEGRATION

In 2004, IT and call management (the service desk) were integrated on a standardised platform along with stock data and other systems. The solution had to allow for future expansion to conform to ITIL best practice standards.

Remedy, in conjunction with Bünning and Partner, provides the action request (AR) system as the central configuration database and workflow engine. This serves as the configuration database within the overall framework of a service management structure. The AR system forms the central component of IT service management (ITSM) at the airport.

Whenever new data or a change in data is configured in the database the AR system keeps the management systems up to date. This supports all processes involved in IT operations from the administration and tracking of over 200 service calls a day to the management of complete projects, including all required resources and billing.

The AR system means that IT operations can be monitored and controlled with just three staff per shift. Systems failures can be recovered within three minutes because the systems critical for Remedy are redundant while the AR system and the underlying Oracle database are secured by a hot backup server.

In 2005, aircraft movement increased from 89 to 120 movements per hour. To assist this expansion and increase efficiency CA Technology Services implemented its service management solution. This is a customisable package of technology and mservices designed to manage, detect, analyse and resolve problems across the IT systems.

CA Unicenter interfaces with the AR system and important data are transferred onto the AR system. The CA solution enables monitoring of critical business applications and processes, and as the system has fully redundant architecture this ensures continuous management and availability of airport operations. This technology allows all operators to prioritise, filter, recognise and manage problems.

"The CA solution enables monitoring of critical business applications and processes."

The IT department also needs to manage airport-specific processes such as ground handling, data connections to airlines, SITA communication systems and air traffic control (Deutsche Flugsicherung). It uses common object request broker architecture (CORBA) to allow communication between systems.

CORBA was created and controlled by the object management group. The architecture defines APIs, communication protocol, and object/service information models to enable heterogeneous applications written in various languages and running on various platforms to interoperate.

It also provides platform and location transparency for sharing well-defined objects across a distributed computing platform.

FUTURE CHALLENGES

In May 2006 the Munich airport IT department was audited by TÜV Süd and is now a certified ISO 20000 organisation. However, Ranner believes that there is still a lot of work to be done.

"We want to develop coordination between our project and change management teams on the operations side during projects from initiation to introduction. This is an objective of our programme for managing projects for IT, MapIT, which is very advanced and will be introduced by the end of 2006."

The airport's long-term plans include a third runway, a second hotel, additional maintenance and administration buildings, and a third terminal.

Ranner is confident about the challenges to come: "From our point of view the airport IT at Munich is optimally prepared for the future."