Qatar Airways enhances IP network infrastructure

Improved operational efficiencies and enhanced service delivery are the reasons behind Qatar Airways implementation of Sita’s Intranet Connect solution.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  December 4, 2002

Upgrade|~||~||~|Improved operational efficiencies and enhanced service delivery are the reasons behind Qatar Airways implementation of Sita’s Intranet Connect solution. The airline is undertaking a three year US$4.1 million project to migrate its telecommunications infrastructure to IP.

“Sita is a major player in the telecommunications field and the only company that could meet all our needs. Qatar Airways has embarked on an IT development programme on a large scale, which will definitely benefit our customers. New IT applications linked via an IP network will be used to streamline our business processes and provide our customers with a seamless service,” says Akbar Al-Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar Airways.

Sita’s solution will enable Qatar Airways to transfer its existing legacy-based protocols, which cater to 190 connections in 113 different offices around 60 worldwide cities, into one seamless IP network.

“[We have] P1024B, P1024C, X25 and so on — these are the existing aviation protocols. [But] for each and every application we need a separate telecom link,” says Mahindar Singh, financial controller, Qatar Airways.

The migration to the IP network will also remove management headaches and reduce IT costs as the airline now only has to manage one single connection rather than a large number of leased lines.

“We will be able to consolidate all of our applications on a single IP connection. This is a major benefit because it will reduce the total number of leased lines we use and therefore reduce our costs,” explains Abdul Hameed, senior systems analyst, Qatar Airways.

“Also, from a management point of view, we will no longer have to manage so many protocols,” he adds.

The implementation of the Sita solution, which is scheduled to begin in January next year and be complete by the end of April, will also enable the airline to streamline access to its networks and applications, as well as prioritise its business critical traffic.

“This [Intranet Connect] will help us to have a corporate local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) set up and [provide] access to multiple applications like reservations, ticketing, DCS, flight planning and cargo through a single WAN IP connection,” says Singh.

Qatar Airways and Sita will jointly implement the turnkey solution and handle the migration from the existing legacy systems.

“Sita is implementing the IP project and Qatar Airways will be involved in the migration of the reservation, DCS and all the other applications using the Sita IP network,” comments Hameed.

According to Qatar Airways, the move to IP was a logical step, driven partly by the fact that there is less support for its existing technology, and also the general market momentum towards IP-based infrastructure.

“We want to move to the latest technology [IP] and support for the old technology is getting less. The vendors of [our current] applications are moving towards IP, so we have to move to IP to stay with their roadmap,” comments Singh.

However, as a precautionary measure the airline is planning to maintain its legacy systems for at least three months following the migration to the IP network.

“We have to keep the old system running… to ensure that the new system is reliable. After that time, we will discontinue the connections and the old technology. We believe that within six months of the migration we will have no legacy based connections and be purely IP,” explains Hameed.

Qatar Airways is also outsourcing management of the IP network to Sita, allowing it to concentrate on other aspects of its business. “This was the case [outsourced network management] since we established the telecoms [infrastructure] of our company… We have successfully outsourced the management of our network and will continue to do so,” comments Hameed.

Once the completed IP network is in place Qatar Airways believes it will start reaping the cost savings and begin to see a return-on-investment (ROI) from the second year of deployment onwards.

“Initially there will not be much of a saving because of the upfront investment. However, in the long run our communications costs should come down drastically. The cost will certainly not be higher than it is now and you have to consider the efficiencies a single consolidated network provides,” says Singh.||**||

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