Sky high availability

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 21 March 2008

Citation

Beaudet, O. (2008), "Sky high availability", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 80 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/aeat.2008.12780baf.010

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Sky high availability

Article Type: Features From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 2.

Airbus is one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. Airbus designs, builds, sells and supports one of the most modern and comprehensive family of aircraft in the world, setting new standards that shape the future of the airline industry, they consistently capture around 50 per cent of more of all orders for airliners with more than 100 seats.

The company employs 57,000 people and produces a comprehensive range of commercial aircraft renowned for their efficiency, innovation, economy and safety. It has captured the imagination of the world with the A380 the biggest airliner ever built which is setting new standards for the aviation industry.

Airbus facilities and personnel are situated in the major airline market areas around the globe, creating an efficient, proactive network for the production and support of its highly successful airliner product line. With training and customer support centres in France, USA and China; onsite support from 29 managers and 160 field officers; and 1,500 suppliers in 30 countries, Airbus relies on the speed, resilience and security of its IT networks to ensure they deliver the best quality of service to their customers and suppliers.

The challenges

Operating four web sites world wide and dynamic sub-sites for special products or events, Airbus needed a reliable partner to build and manage a tailored hosting service to meet its unique online needs. The Airbus web sites need to be available 24h a day, 7 days a week. They have to be resilient and able to withstand great surges in web traffic. Airbus also needs to update all its web sites in real time. Owing to the sensitive nature of the aeronautic industry, Airbus's technical partners have to be highly reliable, expert and available at all times. This means going beyond the basic requirements of the contract to ensure all parts of the site are online and working at all times.

The high technical and service demands of the project led Airbus to turn to Claranet, the trusted technical partner for national and international businesses.

The solution

Airbus outsourced the hosting and the management of its web sites to Claranet. Claranet worked closely with Airbus to understand its IT requirements before designing, implementing and managing a tailored hosting platform based on three primary elements.

To update content in real time, Claranet adapted the platform to be compliant with a worldwide cache solution. The Airbus web sites are updated using a tailored content management system. This includes a synchronization system which Claranet developed to store web site edits and updates before they are published.

A key advantage of the managed hosting platform is a “pre-production” platform, which makes it possible to change and edit the web sites with no risk of unavailability.

A technical account manager was provided as a main point of contact throughout the project. This personalised management enabled Airbus and Claranet to work closely together during the design, implementation and ongoing management of the hosting solution, The solution is managed by a team of expert project managers who are Information Technology Infrastructure Library certified (ITIL) the world's most respected qualification in the delivery of high quality IT services.

Claranet manages the technical framework that Airbus's applications use. Any application or service the customer needs can be implemented as long as it is supported by Claranet's underlying framework or infrastructure. This gives Airbus access to a wide variety of technologies, including Microsoft Windows, Oracle and IBM Websphere.

The managed hosting platform uses two technical platforms the v3 and v4

The v3 is composed of four servers under Windows Server 2000. It uses an asp and asp.net scripting layer to enable the creation of web applications and uses Claranet's SQL Server 2000 platform, The v3 platform also the Airbus web sites in China and Japan, and a special sub-site to exhibit Airbus' newly launched Airbus A380.

The v4 platform is composed of seven servers under the Linux Debian operating system. It is a Java platform which uses a PostgreSQL database. The v4 platform hosts the corporate Airbus web site and the Airbus web site in North America.

To deliver a better infrastructure redundancy, the hosting platform is based on two state-of-the-art data centres, featuring the latest in security, cooling, load balancing and energy technologies to provide the most reliable service possible.

Dedicated data storage and centralised data access is provided through a network attached storage (NAS) system. NAS enables airbus to share storage between the back office, the pre-production platform and the front office (Figure 1). This means Claranet can quickly add a new server if needed, as there is no need to copy the web site data across.

Figure 1 Schematic diagram showing how NAS enables airbus to share storage between the back office, the pre-production platform and the front office

A data backup system safeguards Airbus's business data, and a firewall is deployed as part of a security policy to defend the web site from online threats and attacks.

The result

Claranet's technical framework supports the most appropriate applications to meet Airbus's unique online needs. The principle benefit of the solution is that the Airbus web site is available without interruption. The applications are redundant and supported by Claranet's technical account manager.

On the day of the Airbus A380's first public appearance, the web site received more than 600,000 unique visitors. A further 750,000 visitors flocked to the web site on the day of the super jumbo jet's maiden flight, The platform was designed to withstand such dramatic peaks in traffic. The solid and reliable technical framework was closely managed by a technical account manager to ensure there was no degradation in customer experience. Despite this dramatic peak in web traffic, visitors to the Airbus web site did not experience any unavailability.

“The close working relationship we have with our Technical Account manager has helped foster a good relationship with our other web partners and create the feeling of a 'virtual web team' around airbus.com.”

Airbus's internet manager said, “We have been working with Claranet and with our Technical Account manager for several years now. We have developed a good working relationship, with mutual trust and understanding, Our Technical Account Manager not only acts as the first point of contact on technical issues, his support often goes beyond technical assistance by advising us on various projects. The support staff and account management team have been helpful and responsive even in the middle of the night, The pro-active monitoring of the server has proved very valuable, allowing us to troubleshoot any problems”.

For further information, please contact: Clara.net, Tel: +44 0845 355 2000; web site: www.clara.net

Olivier Beaudet

About the author

Figure 2 Oliver Beaudet

Olivier Beaudet (Figure 2) is an expert in managed services, data management and IT outsourcing services. He has more than a decade's experience of working in senior roles in France and the UK IT industry. Before joining Claranet, Olivier was for ten years Chief Executive of Artful, a managed applications services provider which he launched in 1997. Before founding Artful he was multimedia developer and project manager at the French company Havas, and helped to developed Havas Online, France's first low-cost ISP.