The cloud will transform the airport experience

Airports are increasingly identifying the need to switch to cloud systems in order to improve operational efficiencies, according to Amadeus, who collected the viewpoints of over 20 senior IT leaders from the airport industry to investigate the business case for adopting cloud based Common Use systems at airports.

“Today’s setup is reliant on out-dated technology and is not really embracing the revolutionary capability of the Internet,” commented Michael Ibbitson, CIO, London Gatwick Airport, and report contributor. “Each airline using our CUPPS system needs to build integration locally, on-site. The aviation industry has tried to address the problem with the development of CUTE and CUPPS standards but, in doing so, seems to have reinforced the existing structure rather than instigate change. It is time to embrace technology as quickly as possible, and develop a fundamental shift in aviation IT.”

“Airports around the globe need to look for new ways to compete and maximize the value of their resources amidst growing economic pressure,” said John Jarrell, Head of Airport IT, Amadeus. “Next generation Common Use platforms based on the cloud have the ability to revolutionize the way IT is provided at airports. Dedicated cloud providers can lower costs for airports thanks to economies of scale, amongst many other benefits that allow airports the flexibility to service their customers better.”

“A cloud platform can provide an airport sufficient energy savings to allow a VW Golf to circle the earth 27 times annually, if, for example 75% of a 300-workstation airport switched to thin clients,” he continued. “This really is a significant upgrade from traditional CUTE or CUPPS systems – the question now is whether airports are ready to take a leap of faith and jump to the cloud. Our objective is to open the debate with the airport community.”

Key findings:

Common Use technology has evolved little since CUTE was created in 1984, which is still more popular than the much newer CUPPS, formed in 2009. Interviewed airports find these platforms to be outdated, inflexible, complex, slow, bulky, and cost-ineffective, which affects the whole airport eco-system. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

Cloud-enabling technology has developed rapidly in recent years. Since CUPPS was first implemented in 2009, new technologies such as application virtualization, vastly improved networks and new mobile devices have made viable to make the switch to the cloud.

Cloud technology has the potential to revolutionize airport systems. Benefits include reduced hardware and maintenance costs, saved physical space as a result of removing servers, streamlined certification and location flexibility to process passenger check-in and boarding, helping airports and airlines improve passenger service as a result.

Many airports still have doubts and hesitations concerning the cloud. The majority of these, such as resilience, privacy, security, and risk have been overcome as cloud providers have made addressing these issues a top priority.

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