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Lufthansa Cargo Selects JBoss Enterprise Application Platform to Build New Status Processing System for Global Airfreight Logistics
February 4, 2011
Customer: Lufthansa Cargo AG
To create a state-of-the-art middleware infrastructure for a global shipment status processing system based on industry-standard hardware, while ensuring maximum flexibility by integrating it with existing components, cost effectiveness, and scalability
Proprietary HP-UX operating system running on mainframe servers to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on industry-standard x86 servers
JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Red Hat Consulting, Oracle WebLogic (for database access), Oracle 10 Database
HP Proliant Servers
Gained flexibility and the ability to accommodate new customer requests; saved more than 50 percent by migrating to the new base installation; realised even further cost savings when scaling the platform further to meet market demand; avoided lock-in to proprietary software licensing, hardware, and programming languages
With a transportation volume of around 1.5 million tonnes of freight and mail and 7.4 billion revenue tonne-kilometers sold in 2009, Lufthansa Cargo ranks among the world’s leading cargo carriers. Lufthansa cargo, which currently employs about 4,500 people worldwide, focuses on the airport-to-airport business. The cargo carrier serves some 330 destinations in more than 100 countries in a dense network spanning the globe. Aside from operating its own freighter aircraft, it utilises the belly space on passenger aircraft operated by Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines as well as the capacities available in an extensive road feeder service network. The majority of the cargo is trans-shipped at Frankfurt Airport. Lufthansa cargo is a wholly owned subsidiary of deutsche Lufthansa AG. In the 2009 financial year, Lufthansa cargo achieved euro1.9 billion in revenue. The global IT infrastructure of Lufthansa Cargo is operated centrally from Germany by its sister company Lufthansa Systems, the IT services provider for Lufthansa Group. However, Lufthansa Cargo also has its own IT department that sets the framework for the company’s IT strategy and complex systems architecture.
Airfreight logistics, like any large-scale transportation of goods, is a very time-sensitive business. Lufthansa Cargo’s customers around the world want to know at any point in time where exactly their shipments are located and when they will reach their assigned destinations. one of Lufthansa Cargo’s key concerns is to ensure timely and cost-effective transportation for their customers, ranging from the occasional small-scale parcel transport to regular shipments of an entire aircraft full of bulky goods.
Lufthansa cargo also handles very sensitive and fragile cargo (e.g., animals and perishable goods from distant locations). Regardless of the content of each shipment, customers demand transparency for their cargo costs and of the delivery process itself.
The IT system underpinning the delivery process is called the Shipment Status Processing system (SSP). An internal Lufthansa Cargo application, SSP controls the actual process of transportation. It is tightly interwoven with related applications, including those for cargo capacity planning and routing, the central shipment database, and the booking engine used by customers to buy Lufthansa Cargo’s airfreight capacities in the form of “time-definite services.” The key feature of these services is to enable each customer to select the timeframe that specifies the latest acceptance time for his/her shipment and when it will be available at the final destination.
Throughout the transportation process, SSP controls the logistics network and defines the immediate next step for each shipment. For example, once the size, weight, and destination of a shipment are determined and the specific time-definite service has been booked, SSP virtually sends the shipment to the correct container with a pre-determined space in a specific aircraft with a destination or trans-shipment stop-over. The shipment processing meets both Lufthansa cargo’s requirements with regards to resource efficiency as well as the customer’s requirements for timely delivery.
Until 2010, the SSP system was partly integrated with legacy applications. “These systems ran on mainframe computers and had become increasingly inflexible,” said Antonio Mastrolorito, chief IT architect at Lufthansa cargo. “One of our key strategic objectives is to always accommodate new customer requirements and create new products that help Lufthansa cargo maintain a competitive edge in the airfreight market. As SSP is such a key component of our logistics IT infrastructure, we needed to migrate the applications to a state-of-the-art platform.”
With global airfreight being a fairly volatile business, the new platform needed to be highly scalable, cost-efficient, and independent from any particular hardware vendor. “We wanted the new SSP platform to be as flexible and vendor-agnostic as possible,” said Mastrolorito. “We wanted it to be independent of any hardware platform, of any particular operational environment, and even independent of any programming languages.”
Lufthansa cargo’s IT architects worked with service provider Lufthansa Systems when designing the architecture of the new SSP system. “The first step in the planning process was to define the services that the new platform needed to handle,” said Mastrolorito. “We faced the challenge of maximising the independence of the infrastructure while also keeping the order process for our customers the same.”
“When it comes to working out the details of a new platform that is crucial to our operational success, we’re very stringent with the choice of technology,” said Mastrolorito. ”The total cost of ownership calculation for SSP revealed that JBoss Enterprise Application Platform would be the most cost-efficient foundation. In addition to ensuring the lowest Tco, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform was scalable enough to accommodate even the highest peaks in customer demand.”
Only three months after evaluating JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, the application development teams began migrating the new SSP system from the development environment to the Red Hat based test environment. And with the assistance of Red Hat Consulting, the roll-out into production only took one month. “Red Hat consulting offers the most impressive support I’ve experienced in my 13-year career in enterprise IT,” said Mastrolorito. “Red Hat Consulting’s knowledge and the speed with which the team resolved all issues was instrumental in bringing SSP into production in such a short period of time.”
Lufthansa cargo’s IT and operations teams are both happy with the service-oriented architecture of the new SSP platform. “It was essential for us to have a lot of flexibility in the way we integrate the new SSP with our existing infrastructure,” said Mastrolorito. “The shipment database, for instance, remains unchanged for now, as it is such a key component of our entire global operations. Moving SSP services to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform let us achieve our targets without turning the entire infrastructure upside down at once.”
The shipment database holds information on each and every piece of cargo that Lufthansa cargo transports around the world. It is the central data hub that is accessed by a number of other applications aside from SSP. “After being moved away from the legacy mainframe system, the SSP functionality is running smoothly on just four standard x86 cPUs. JBoss Enterprise Application Platform coordinates all of the services and ties various applications together meticulously,” said Mastrolorito.
Red Hat’s open source subscription model has contributed significantly to an unprecedented level of cost transparency. Unlike proprietary software vendors, whose costs often increase exponentially when the systems are scaled up to meet increasing customer demand, Red Hat only charges for professional support and services.
“If we had selected a proprietary solution for the SSP middleware, we would have to cope with higher software license costs every time we add a machine to the infrastructure,” said Mastrolorito. “With Red Hat’s open source subscription model, we can scale up and down easily without worrying about price per CPU creating unexpected extra costs. By migrating our SSP installation to JBoss Enterprise Middleware, we have saved more than 50 percent compared to competitive software license models.”
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