Event-resolution system keeps Denver International Airport flying
DIA also is the fifth-busiest airport in the country, setting new records nearly every month for passenger traffic. In 2006, the airport served 47.3 million passengers, nearly 10 percent more than the previous year.
To successfully manage the day-to-day operations of one of the world’s largest and highest-volume airports requires an airport staff of more than 30,000 people, including 45 information technology (IT) professionals. It also requires a sophisticated IT and communications infrastructure that must be up and running 24/7.
Outages in any support system can be costly, resulting in passenger delays, safety and security concerns and further system outages. The impact to the airport, airlines, travelers and the economy could be significant.
In order to identify IT exceptions and events at each layer in its network structure that could affect airport operations, DIA implemented HP Software’s OpenView and Network Node Manager.
Once operational, DIA focused on the automated notification and resolution of detected exceptions to ensure that events were dispatched and resolved as quickly as possible. For these sophisticated capabilities, DIA turned to AlarmPoint Systems to assist in automating IT event notification and resolution and disaster notification.
A major upgrade over previous method
Having previously managed the IT event-notification and -resolution process manually, the airport leveraged AlarmPoint to substantially relieve administrative burdens and resource constraints, especially important in such a time-critical environment.
Airport management felt that the earlier manual method was too slow and unreliable, with a system that could issue approximately 50 notifications in one hour. After the airport’s AlarmPoint Enterprise deployment—during an issue encountered with a network switch, for example—the airport was able to send 14,000 targeted notifications in just minutes. This represents a 560,000 percent increase in the number of notifications sent on average than the previous system could issue in the same amount of time.
Reducing the risk of systems outages
AlarmPoint Enterprise automatically sets in motion critical notification processes when any systems issues occur at the airport across its IT, telecommunications and maintenance operations. AlarmPoint provides advanced notification for approximately 250 critical airport systems comprising DIA’s operational infrastructure, ranging from Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS) and 911 dispatch servers to network switches and financial services databases.
For example, if a disruption occurs in any critical network server, AlarmPoint automatically routes alerts to a targeted list of individuals in the IT group who can fix the problem. Or if a jet bridge is damaged by a baggage cart, predetermined contacts in the maintenance group immediately will be notified. Response actions then can be taken immediately to restore service before the airport’s operations are impacted.
Since its initial deployment of AlarmPoint to support network management, the airport has significantly expanded its AlarmPoint implementation to serve as the backbone of its mission-critical Communications Center.
DIA’s Communications Center serves as the “command post” for the entire airport, ensuring emergency situations are managed and resolved as quickly and effectively as possible by keeping all relevant parties fully apprised. All incidents taking place at the airport—from weather to security—are immediately routed through the Communications Center, which relies on AlarmPoint to automatically notify a targeted set of individuals that varies according to the situation.
Most notifications are issued to internal airport staff. However, AlarmPoint also reaches key external customers, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, city officials in Denver and airline managers. When the airport expects an incoming blizzard, for example, AlarmPoint will proactively issue emergency notification messages to 175 key airport personnel in only four minutes.
In another scenario, Transportation Security Administration officials may uncover something suspicious when screening bags that they want investigated by a police officer or bomb-sniffing dog. The DIA Communications Center will gather the available information and use AlarmPoint to issue notifications that ensure the desired response, from a perimeter check to a full airport evacuation.
Best practices model for other airports
With its sophisticated notification and resolution system from AlarmPoint, DIA’s Communications Center model is unique, and represents a best-practices model for other airports nationwide, many of which still are conducting notifications manually.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based AlarmPoint Systems provided this case history.