The latest fruit in Computacenter's long-term relationship with BAA is the delivery of some 1,000 NEC screens for Heathrow's new £2.5bn Terminal 2. The deal involves public display system and flight information controllers that help coordinate information delivery and traffic flow from check-in to departure gates, as well as assisting passenger and airport security and retail.
Terminal 2 (construction site pictured, below left) is expected to open next year and will serve 20 million passengers annually, and is part of a five-year £4.8bn transformation of Heathrow Airport.
Computacenter declined the opportunity to be interviewed directly for this feature. However, Richard Wilks, EMEA aviation business development manager at NEC Display Solutions, says in a statement that the 32in-70in XS Series displays were chosen for their eco-conscious, low-power consuming design. Installation began in November.
"For millions of people each year, Heathrow is their first impression of the UK, which is why it is so important it's a positive one," says Wilks.
This displays project is part of Computacenter's push into an area once seen as primarily for specialists: digital signage.
Computacenter was chosen via a tender process, says Wilks. However, the large reseller was clearly going to have an excellent chance of getting the project given its preferred supplier status, and that other projects for BAA have included core IT and infrastructure solutions and services, such as technology virtualisation.
In 2010 BAA knew it had to look for a more agile IT infrastructure if it was to make the most of its business opportunities long term. This meant going beyond server virtualisation and increased utilisation.
According to Computacenter's own case study, the project has enabled BAA to reduce its production environment by 246 servers, leaving capacity to support growth. "This has contributed to cost savings of £1.8m. The new infrastructure will also reduce carbon emissions by 1,239 tonnes a year, minimise risk and enable greater business agility," it writes.
Terry Fusco, Heathrow IT head at BAA, said in a statement released at the time: "We decided to virtualise the network as well as our server estate and incorporate disaster recovery facilities in the environment."
Computacenter deployed a virtual datacentre offering that combines pre-architected virtualisation and software management technologies with a view to simplifying deployment as well as management and cutting the total cost of ownership for BAA.
According to Neill Burton, datacentre solutions director at Computacenter, an end-to-end approach to improving overall agility was required.
"One of the main challenges in IT today is that solutions are still deployed in silos. Virtual datacentre offerings move away from looking at individual layers, such as the storage layer, networking layer or server layer, and instead look at the whole stack," he says. "It's a refocusing of attention on workloads rather than point technology."
Burton says that the legacy environment must also be considered when deciding which workloads could benefit from virtualisation. At BAA, this meant combining automated discovery with physical audits and interviews with IT staff.
Computacenter then used a VMware capacity planning tool to identify prospective services and workload migration. Workloads and applications for migration included invoicing systems, databases and security camera footage.
"Many organisations have a large number of legacy systems that run business-critical tasks. However, not all of these applications will operate efficiently in a virtual datacentre environment," he points out.
"The environment in which we operate is continually evolving. In order to keep up with business change, we needed an IT infrastructure that offered greater flexibility," Fusco says.
A spokesperson for BAA says Terminal 2 was originally opened in 1955 and – then called the Europa Building – was the first terminal at Heathrow and was meant to only host 1.2 million passengers a year. Today's Terminal 1 opened in 1969.
By 2009, T2 was dealing with eight million travellers every year. The reconstructed T2 will include two buildings connected via an underground walkway, a 1,300-space car park, an energy centre, 28 aircraft stands, approach road improvements, and will be connected to the integrated baggage system that covers all of Heathrow. Some 20 per cent of its energy needs will be from renewable sources, according to BAA.
Computacenter in core BAA IT consortium
The reseller is also the major player for the delivery of core desktop and server services for BAA as a whole.
March 2011 saw Computacenter, as part of a consortium led by consultancy and integration giant Capgemini, win a five-year £100m IT services outsourcing deal with BAA. The other consortium members are air transport comms specialist SITA, project services specialist Atkins and niche applications provider Amor Group.
The contract is for the delivery of BAA's core IT services on a day-to-day basis, including applications, infrastructure and projects, for some 10,000 users covering all six UK airports, with BAA retaining responsibility for IT strategy, stakeholder management and ensuring the quality of IT services in collaboration with Capgemini. The promise is that the consortium can simplify the overall IT portfolio, improve service levels and drive down costs.
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