Munich Airport Improves Performance and Reduces Cost with Red Hat Solutions

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August 22, 2013

Performance deficits and the high costs associated with purchasing and maintaining servers were the catalysts for Munich Airport’s transition from UNIX to Linux® systems.

Customer: Munich Airport, Flughafen München GmbH (FMG)

"Over time, additional aspects have further validated our decision, including the software’s performance and virtualization capabilities, which have led to terrific consolidation and cost-savings.” - Hubert Bösl, UNIX systems architect, Munich Airport

Red Hat Business Partner: SAP
Industry: Transportation
Geography: EMEA
Country: Germany


Business Challenge:

Performance deficits and the high costs associated with purchasing and maintaining servers were the catalysts for Munich Airport’s transition from UNIX to Linux® systems.

Migration Path:

UNIX servers to Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®

Software:

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, Red Hat Satellite, SAP

Hardware:

33 Fujitsu-Primergy-RX300 systems for virtualization

Benefits:

With its Red Hat Enterprise Linux infrastructure, the airport has gained significant cost and performance advantages compared to the previous UNIX solutions.

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Background:

Flughafen München GmbH (FMG) was established in 1949 and is the operating company of Munich Airport. A few years after opening in 1992, the airport’s outstanding growth elevated it to one of Europe’s busiest passenger airports. FMG’s partners include the Free State of Bavaria, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the state capital, Munich. The most important driver of growth for Munich Airport is the hub traffic created by Lufthansa, its Star Alliance partners, and other airlines. 40% of passengers that use Munich Airport are not yet at their final destination. In recent years, the basis for growth in hub traffic at Munich Airport has been the ongoing development of the route network. Today, more European destinations originate from Munich than from any other airport in Europe: 101 airlines fly to 242 destinations in 68 countries.

Business Challenge:

Munich Airport initially began using UNIX systems several years ago at its previous location in Munich-Riem. It continued using the systems after its 1992 move to Erdinger Moos, just northeast of Munich.

Performance deficits and the high costs associated with purchasing and maintaining servers were the catalysts for the transition from UNIX to Linux® systems. Munich Airport carried out a detailed cost analysis before the migration. The results illustrated that the cost of transition to Red Hat® Enterprise Linux and industry-standard hardware with x86 processors would be less than the savings gained as a result of the transition, even with a low number of migrated systems.

After selecting the Red Hat solution, Munich Airport carried out the first phase of its migration by rolling out Red Hat Enterprise Linux as an additional platform. The airport calculated that this additional platform would be paid off with the installation of 10 servers, which resulted in the costs being recouped in just one year. Moving forward, the airport’s IT department aims to migrate every server previously run on UNIX to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Financial benefits have been one of the driving forces behind the migration. “The hardware and operating system for an SAP application on Red Hat Enterprise Linux for a server with x86 technology costs far less than a similar UNIX server with proprietary processors,” said Hubert Bösl, UNIX system architect at Munich Airport. “On top of that, with several UNIX systems, you have to pay for a volume manager and other features required in the storage area network (SAN) environment.”

Solution:

During the server migration process, the airport used external technical expertise. Red Hat Sales recommended that the airport bring on board inoX-tech, a Red Hat Premier Business Partner from the Bavarian city of Passau. The inoX-tech consultants were also involved in the implementation of Nagios, an open source tool used to monitor the network services.

“The systems integrator partnered with us on this project from the very beginning”, said Bösl. “Thanks to their expertise, dozens of Red Hat Enterprise Linux machines have been installed.” Now, most of the mission-critical IT supported processes at Munich Airport rely on Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems. These systems have improved the smooth handling of passengers, luggage, and airplanes in an organization where a single failure could lead to several customer service issues, such as lost luggage and missed flights.

In addition to reducing negative passenger experiences, the use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux has also been crucial for managing flight data. Taking raw data from the flight radar as an input, Munich Airport staff uses a Red Hat Enterprise Linux application on their desktop systems to calculate the position of airplanes. Ten minutes before landing, the application coordinates logistics on the ground, ensuring that passenger bridges arrive on time and at the right place, luggage handling goes smoothly, and airplanes are refueled. The application is responsible for the reliable execution of this highly complex and integrated process.

There are a total of 22 SAP instances with different tasks running on the servers, in addition to JavaTM and application server-based services for airplane and passenger handling. Further applications support the technical processes at the airport, as well as time and project planning. The airport operates two database clusters on Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the central information hub for passenger and airplane handling, and another is used for a range of mission-critical applications.

The airport’s entire intranet, web server, and infrastructure components, as well as database servers, are part of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux IT landscape. These databases can be assigned to different servers so that when migrations of applications and databases are pending, the servers can run with different versions of the operating system.

As of late 2012, Munich Airport has approximately 140 servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with about 65% of those virtualized. Employees also use 70 desktops with Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the air traffic control tower and as other workstations.

The number of systems being used, particularly servers, continually increases. The airport’s server landscape comprises 33 Fujitsu Primergy RX300 systems with two bases each and between 144GB and 192GB of RAM. These 33 systems are divided into three clusters: Windows, mixed-mode operation, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems. Currently, there are approximately 375 instances running; 90 of these are operating with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In addition to the clusters, another 40 physical Red Hat Enterprise Linux server systems are also in operation.

Benefits:

With its Red Hat Enterprise Linux infrastructure, Munich Airport has gained significant cost and performance advantages compared to the previous UNIX solutions. “A basic requirement of our operating system platform is achieving the most efficient administration possible,” said Bösl. “This is as true for desktops as it is for servers.”

For management, Munich Airport uses Red Hat Satellite (previously known as Red Hat Network Satellite), a systems-management platform for Red Hat Enterprise Linux infrastructures, to connect as many systems as possible. The implementation of individual processes, such as change and availability management, was greatly simplified by the administration tools.

“Red Hat Satellite offers important advantages in the remote management of desktop systems. In this way, the solution is way ahead of other Linux solutions that have nothing adequate to offer,” said Hubert Bösl, UNIX systems architect, Munich Airport. “The management tool was very important for our ISO 20000 certification as well.”

Bösl sees further advantages of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux infrastructure in the areas of operational stability, performance, and availability. Virtualization, which was not possible with the airport’s previous UNIX systems, has led to better resource management and greater flexibility because of features like live migration and the dynamic allocation of resources. If a physical computer fails unexpectedly, the cluster components make sure the virtual machines are automatically distributed across other nodes in the cluster, even among datacenters.

“When we first selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we benefited greatly from the commercial aspects and its simplified management offerings,” said Bösl. “Over time, additional benefits have arisen that further validate our decision, including the system performance and virtualization capabilities which have led to terrific consolidation and cost savings.”

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