Gatwick Airport is embracing a cloud-first policy for software and infrastructure whenever possible, and has ditched its use of BlackBerry for a bring-your-own-device setup as part of a major overhaul of its IT use.
The man driving this change is Michael Ibbitson, the chief information officer at the airport, who said that cloud is the first-use case the business considers for any technology need.
"The first line of our IT strategy is that we are focusing on software-as-a-service [SaaS] and infrastructure-as-a-service [IaaS] to improve the flexibility of our IT services and make the business more efficient," he told V3.
"There are some things we can't do in the cloud, such as CCTV which has high bandwidth requirements, but if we can do SaaS or IaaS we will."
Box for storage and Yammer for collaboration and communication are two examples of cloud-based tools Gatwick has provided to staff, Yammer proving particularly helpful, as Ibbitson explained.
"Yammer started off as a general internal communications tool but we now use it for staff management during disruptions such as snow storms or high winds, especially to keep customer-facing staff up to speed," he said.
"We are now working to put procedures in place so that everyone understands that this is how it is used and we can provide updates on the platform, including direct to smartphones too."
The use of cloud tools has coincided with a close working relationship with
ICT services provider Getronics over the past two years.
Previously the two organisations worked on areas of improvement under Ibbitson's direction, such as bringing Gatwick's IT helpdesk back in-house and creating an application management portfolio.
Now, with more projects underway, such as plans to improve CCTV systems and creating an asset management database, Gatwick has struck another deal with Getronics for ongoing support amid a major reconstruction of the North Terminal.
The new deal allows Gatwick to source staff from Getronics when required for 21 different roles covering not just IT functions but areas such as business analysis and project management.
"We can't hire everyone for a new cloud service or infrastructure or app we need," Ibbitson said.
"So with this deal we have the ability to look to Getronics to bring in staff and resources that we need. Having that flexibility means we can do different projects on more aggressive timelines."
As well as embracing the cloud Ibbitson has overseen a move from a managed BlackBerry estate to a BYOD setup in a move similar to many other organisations that have gone through this transition.
"Getronics were managing our Exchange environment and BlackBerry Enterprise Service. But we moved away from that so that, whereas before we had 400 BlackBerry users, we now support 1,600 devices," Ibbitson said.
"There has been a strong demand from staff for this so they can embrace the best ways they want to work."
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