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Software distribution - the easy way

Published on  15 August by Pierre Guiol , End User Computing & DaaS Product Manager
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How do you keep all of your hardware devices updated when they are spread across so many different airports in so many far-flung countries?

With the explosion of end-user devices and equipment, it is a question many airlines are increasingly struggling with.

Sending the updates remotely from a centralized data center is one solution, but it comes with severe limitations as large data files can dramatically cut the speed of critical business traffic. That traffic could be serving check-in kiosks, boarding systems or flight operations systems, resulting in slower turnaround times and flight delays.

With unreliable infrastructure at outstations in some parts of the world, adding anything to the network traffic can exacerbate the already slow connectivity.

Scheduling updates and upgrades for times when business traffic is low can alleviate some of the problem, but in today’s environment the need to continuously protect end-user equipment from the rapid rise of cyber attacks means it can be too late to wait until off peak hours.

Often airlines, or their IT providers, are left with little choice but to send qualified staff to the airport with USB sticks to install patches or carry out software upgrades locally. For large airlines, there can be as many as 200 outstations. Throw into the mix that getting the permissions to access the equipment at some airports, especially if airside, can be problematic and you have a time consuming, complex and costly use of limited IT resources.

Here at SITA, we manage over 400,000 end-user devices at around 1,500 airports and other industry locations. This involves us making many thousands of site visits each year.

So it is great news that we have started partnering with 1E, a fast growing technology company complementing Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), to introduce their Nomad service. It allows us to distribute security patches, upgrades, software and operating systems, immediately, even during peak hours, without having to wait and with no impact on business traffic.

All sounds too good to be true? We have already used it very successfully with a number of airlines.

Fast, straightforward and cost effective

Nomad works by using a peer-to-peer model, which means a “master” device to be updated is selected at each location. From this, the master device is able to cascade the software to all the other devices across the site. So literally thousands of machines can be migrated in a single day, without disruption to the business operations.

The technology uses spare network bandwidth that you have prescribed and automatically ‘throttles’ up and down depending on how much bandwidth is needed for business traffic.

Not only does it mean no pressure on bandwidth, but it also cuts – even eliminates, in some cases – the need for local data processing servers. Furthermore, if a connection goes offline, Nomad even provides auto recovery.

So if you want to be able to keep you IT assets protected and up-to-date, regardless of which airport they sit in, get in contact with me at pierre.guiol@sita.aero or check out our website for more information.

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