Air Berlin is "ready for takeoff" - with Bull
Air Berlin, the most successful German low-cost carrier, has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. Individual ticket sales, representing nearly 58% of the total turnover, continue to be the growth engine of the enterprise. The result? The company had to adapt its booking system to cope with this phenomenal growth.
‘Always on a Monday’ could be the firm’s motto. At the beginning of every week, Airberlin.com is swamped with customers logging in to find out about the latest special offers or even to make reservations for their dream destinations. “In particular, during our special promotions several thousand prospective customers access our book-keeping system with vacation queries,” explains Air Berlin’s IT Manager Kai Gottschlich. “Given our reputation, we owe it to our customers to make sure that the computers don’t run a second slower during those queries.”
Downtime is not an option!
As a result, the company decided to migrate its proven bookkeeping system, based on WBS blank software solution, a standard in the tourism industry – onto more modern computers. At the core of the Berlin-based airline’s newly renovated computing center are two high-performance Escala PL6450R servers from Bull. With these computers, currently the fastest and most industrial Unix® computers in Germany, Air Berlin is in position to support the company’s growth from a technical point of view. "It was a particular challenge for us that this migration took place to a certain extent in the ‘open heart’ of operations, while we remained up and running,” says Holger Schäfer, Managing Director of Stuttgart-based CCP Condor Computer GmbH, the systems integrator on the project.
Fast workhorses in the background
The two computers are more than doing justice to their reputations and are beginning to handle extremely heavy loads and short-term inquiry peaks – triggered by newsletter offers – very reliably. For security reasons the servers are in two separate computer rooms: the first one is used as the actual accounting machine, the second computer, equipped with several partitions, is used as a test environment and also as a standby host. “This has the advantage that each of the partitions can correspond to an independent computer, and we can flexibly adapt the resources to our requirements, whether it’s the number of CPUs, the memory capacity or even the PCI board slots,” explains Kai Gottschlich.
Security at every level
To further increase the security of the new system, the booking system and the stand-by partition of the second Escala server are clustered via High Availability Cluster MultiProcessing (HACMP). So in the event of a possible system crash, the task is automatically rolled-over in few seconds to the second computer, thereby guaranteeing high availability at all times. In addition, redundant internal disks are also housed separately in the two machine rooms. Data alignment takes place via AIX® mirroring, so that even in the very improbable event of a total RAID storage system failure, no break in bookings is possible at any time.
“We have been working together with Bull and CCP since 1997 and decided without hesitation to use these partners once again,” declared Kai Gottschlich when asked about the choice of the new servers. A clear show of confidence, as the future will demand maximum output from Air Berlin’s technological success story: at the moment, Air Berlin has 52 jets in use, and is expecting the delivery of nine A320 Airbus airplanes. A further 49 Airbus planes are to be delivered by 2011, which means more connections, more destinations and thousands more reservations on airberlin.com.
About Air Berlin
In the past year, with 13.5 million passengers, Air Berlin’s position as the second largest German airline behind Lufthansa was firmly reinforced. That’s an increase of almost 12.45% compared to 2004. In total the Berlin company flies out of 17 German airports. In addition to the 48 European and North African destinations from Germany, the airline continues to develop its connections outside of Germany, from London and Amsterdam to Mallorca for example, as well as internal Spanish flights from Palma de Mallorca to 17 destinations on the mainland and the Balearic Islands.