100% uptime is crucial for Norwegian. With Basefarm’s flexibility, Norwegian can quickly adapt to changes in the market and air schedules.
These are the words of Petter Granviken, IT Operations Manager at Norwegian Air Shuttle. When a customer purchases a plane ticket on the web, uses an automatic check-in at the airport and then boards the plane, he is oblivious to the data transactions performed in the background. Basefarm operates Norwegian’s servers and, between them, the companies ensure that booking, check-in and boarding all happen without a hitch.
”Things change fast in the airline business. Norwegian needs to be light on its feet and come up with simple and functional solutions that support the rapid changes. Different markets and airports impose different requirements that the company has to adapt to. Basefarm’s flexibility makes the cooperation unique”, Granviken maintains. ”We work closely with Basefarm and achieve better results through our tight cooperation. We develop, operate and administrate the systems and come up with solutions through harmonious teamwork. There’s a good chemistry between us”, he says. ”It’s the dynamics that we share that makes this a great solution. Our operations department runs the servers in partnership with Basefarm. Together we avoid many bureaucratic obstacles that customers of larger operating companies have to deal with, where the customer does not have access to the servers. This flexibility means that we can innovate together”, explains Granviken, who emphasizes that this is not at the expense of security.
Norwegian now has around 600 servers at Basefarm. The airline has never experienced any crises with the service provider. ”It works effectively faultlessly. Operational stability is high and we feel safe with Basefarm”, says Granviken. Norwegian grew strongly in the early 2000s and needed more capacity for the services it offered. At the same time, the need for flexibility increased. The partnership with Basefarm began in 2002. In 2004, Norwegian switched over completely to their operating platform. Since then the company has run its most critical systems at Basefarm.
Basefarm operates Norwegian’s website, webshop, ticketing system, check-in kiosks at the airports and boarding pass system. 90% of all the airline’s tickets are sold through the solution running at Basefarm. On an average day, around 20,000 tickets are sold over the web. If the system were to fail, the consequences for passengers and the airline would be massive. ”The systems are mission critical for us. It would be catastrophic if they failed, and could result in major losses of revenue. Whenever anything has gone down it has been quickly restored to full production again, without any major consequences”, says Granviken.
Basefarm operates Norwegian’s solution distributed over two data centers. If problems were to arise in one of the centers, it is easy to route traffic over to the other. This provides extra security. ”I am safe in the knowledge that we always have access to all services. Since the solution is run from two data centers, both flexibility and security are high”, says Granviken. A system failure would have major and damaging consequences. If the access control systems do not work, passengers cannot board their flights. If the check-in kiosks fail, there will be queues in the departure hall. In practice, the aircraft could be stuck on the ground if the operating services are not provided as they should be. ”Happily, these are difficulties that we have avoided”, says Granviken.
A dynamic airline requires dynamic IT solutions. When the markets evolve, or Norwegian begins lights from a new airport, the IT systems have to keep up. ”Even though Basefarm has to innovate, use new technology and upgrade at a high pace, they deliver what we demand. We often implement new technology in partnership, which is beneficial both for us and for them”, says Granviken. He does not hide the fact that Norwegian is a demanding customer. The biggest challenge is the fast rate of change. Norwegian often wants changes that mean that Basefarm has to be quick off the mark.
Norwegian runs a mixture of virtual and physical servers. Increasingly large parts of the solution are being transferred to virtual servers. This reduces the need for physical servers and offers better capacity usage. Granviken sees nothing but benefits here. ”virtualized servers are energy-friendly, cost-saving and offer us greater flexibility”, he says. Norwegian intends to virtualize its server environment even more, while retaining physical servers in some areas.
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