Aer Lingus, Ireland's national flag-carrier, has a mission to "connect Ireland to the world". In 2014, for the first time in its history, the airline carried more than 11 million passengers across Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the United States.
Aer Lingus positions itself as a "value carrier" with a strategy of being the airline that provides the smarter travel experience for customers. It flies to central (rather than peripheral) airport locations and delivers a superior level of customer service that pure low-cost competitors cannot match. The company flies a fleet of modern Airbus aircraft. However, Aer Lingus realised that, over time, its IT systems had lagged behind.
Aer Lingus developed its Smart Travel strategy in response to the severe economic pressures that the airline industry faced. The aim was to compete effectively against both low-cost and full-service providers. However, Director of IT Service Management Derek Monahan realised that the company's IT infrastructure needed to change to fully support the new focus. Aer Lingus's IT systems had developed in departmental siloes to the point where data from disparate sources was not easily accessible. Its desktops ran on the outdated Microsoft Windows XP operating system and, altogether, the business used 275 different legacy applications.
To empower employees to work more effectively and focus on fantastic service to their customers, Derek and his team wanted a more agile system. They developed two initial priorities. Firstly, they needed to update the company's desktop estate from Windows XP to Windows 7. Secondly, they wanted to make employees more mobile, where the scope of mobility could range from enabling ground operations agents to work in different parts of Dublin airport, to giving pilots access to important information from anywhere in the world.
Security and compliance with multiple aviation industry standards were of critical importance.
The team developed a solution built on Citrix® NetScaler®, Citrix XenDesktop® and Citrix XenMobile®. XenDesktop provides a Windows 7 virtual desktop to 4,500 users across 1,400 PCs. With XenDesktop providing a single virtual desktop, migration is vastly simplified; there is no need to physically deploy the new operating system onto every device. Taking a virtual desktop approach has enabled the company to extend the life of existing PC hardware in many cases, and has reduced software support costs with centralised management. The solution has also centralised company data and apps in the data centre, thereby improving security, dissolving departmental siloes and making information more accessible to relevant employees.
At the same time, Aer Lingus deployed 1,500 Apple iPad tablets to various teams across the business and has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for employees. Citrix XenMobile is used to manage secure, mobile access to information and applications based on user profile, device and location. The iPads use geo-fencing technology to change access levels based on the geographic location of the device.
Citrix NetScaler underpins the XenDesktop and XenMobile infrastructure to optimise, secure and control these services.
Aer Lingus is also deploying Citrix ShareFile® as a secure, enterprise-grade method of sharing sensitive information with external partners, vendors and contractors.
Aer Lingus pilots now use 3G/4G enabled iPads to access flight plans and other sensitive data via XenMobile, helping create a secure, compliant, paperless cockpit. The impact on aircraft fuel costs, when taking into consideration the reduced take-off weight of an aircraft not carrying paper flight manuals over the course of a year, is significant.
With iPads, regardless of country or time-difference, pilots can quickly, easily and securely access the latest information relating to a flight. Pilots who hold a hybrid air crew/administration role can also access information and applications relating to their "desk job" from wherever they are. The geo-fenced iPads manage what can and cannot be accessed via 3G/4G to reduce data costs. Flight data, for example, is accessible via 3G/4G wherever the flight crew may be in the world, but personal data such as Facebook or videos can only be accessed via Wi-Fi hotspots when outside of Ireland.
Aer Lingus's Smart Travel strategy was the impetus behind Derek's IT upgrade. The airline relies on a huge number of shift-working operations staff to keep the business running at all times. XenDesktop enables these employees – from cargo crew to customer service agents in check-in halls – to move from department to department (or desk to desk) and have their personal desktop profile follow them. They can easily access their desktop from anywhere in the airport, at home or from any Aer Lingus office.
Secure and flexible access to information anytime, anywhere and from any device empowers Aer Lingus employees to deliver great customer care in all areas of the business, from baggage halls to the cockpit.
Derek and his team have completed the deployment of XenMobile, while the desktop transformation project is almost complete. The team continue to migrate the 275 legacy applications so that they can complete rollout of the XenDesktop piece of their empowerment project.
Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is leading the transition to software-defining the workplace, uniting virtualization, mobility management, networking and SaaS solutions to enable new ways for businesses and people to work better. Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, mobile workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. With annual revenue in 2014 of $3.14 billion, Citrix solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organizations and by over 100 million users globally. Learn more at www.citrix.com.
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