The HCI vendor’s resiliency also improved airport security, said Ira Campbell, director of IT and security at Charleston International Airport. The airport relies on video to validate whether something did or didn’t happen. And Pivot3’s HCI surveillance products ensure that even if multiple hardware failures occur, video management servers remain online and recording, and previously recorded video is protected and accessible.
“With security you can’t afford any downtime,” Campbell said. “And with 240 doors at this airport there’s no way we could man them all. We need that resiliency.”
Charleston International is a joint civil-military airport located in North Charleston, South Carolina. It is South Carolina’s largest and busiest airport.
Campbell and his team recently completed a $200 million upgrade project called the Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program. The modernization project expanded the facility to meet increased passenger demand, which has grown about 70 percent since 2010. It also included a focus on the airport’s data center, security, surveillance, and access control systems.
Data Center Standardization
The airport data center needed a hardware overhaul, Campbell said. “A lot of the infrastructure was all just single server, there was very little redundancy and no standardization to the hardware at all,” he said. “It was a mixed bag of probably 35 to 40 different types of servers and different types of infrastructure.”
Standardization across the data center with a virtual solution was one of the first goals and the new infrastructure needed to have fault tolerance, high availability, and redundancy built in.
The team wanted to standardize on a hyperconverged product because that would give them the ability to add additional compute and storage as needed. They looked at HCI from Pivot3, Dell EMC, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) before choosing Pivot3 because of “the price as well as the service,” Campbell said. He explained that Pivot3 cost between 30 and 40 percent less to deploy compared to Dell EMC and HPE.
Pivot3 enabled the airport to aggregates storage, compute, networking, and virtualization resources from multiple servers into a single unified platform. It also allowed the airport to expand its capacity to about 300 terabytes of storage.
The airport initially deployed a 13-server cluster running about 33 virtual machines (VMs). All of its security, video, access control, credential management, and paging systems run on this cluster, which supports about 300 security cameras.
More recently it added a new three-server cluster to deploy shared-use passenger management software called EASE (Extended Airline System Environment).
“And we’re getting ready to start moving all of our IT infrastructure, our financial servers, website, email — all of our normal business solutions to a new IT cluster in the next three months,” Campbell said.
Pivot3 HCI Benefits
The airport hasn’t experienced any outages since deploying Pivot3. And if IT needs support, “within minutes we’re on the phone with an engineer who can help us,” Campbell said. “There’s no big run around. They are able to answer our question immediately.”
In addition to the cost savings and built-in redundancy, Pivot3’s HCI saves time. The company’s intelligence engine combines policy-based management, inference, and orchestration capabilities, and it automates management, resource allocation, workload mobility, and data placement. Additionally, it provides visibility across clusters from a single console.
“We probably cut 30 to 40 percent of our server admin’s workload because he doesn’t have to spend half his day looking in and out of everything,” Campbell said.