Vancouver Airport Authority - Case Study
The transition of all YVR customer airports from the on-premise system to AWS
Born in 1931 to what is now Canada’s second busiest airport, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) welcomed 19.36 million people in 2014, facilitated more than 310,000 aircraft take-offs and landings, handled over 256,000 tonnes of cargo and employs over 350 employees.
Since 1992, when the Vancouver Airport Authority assumed responsibility for the airport, passenger traffic has increased more than 96% from 9.9 million passengers, and cargo has increased over 78% from 144,000 tonnes.
In March 2015, YVR was named the #1 airport in North America for the sixth consecutive year by Skytrax World Airport Awards, which is voted on by more than 13 million passengers worldwide. YVR is the first airport to have maintained the #1 ranking for six years in a row.
- Migrate to AWS
- Maintain high availability, scalability and security requirements
- AWS Cloud Platform
- AWS Virtual Private Cloud
- 24/7 TriNimbus Support
- Successful implementation of flexible AWS platform
YVR’s solution has been sold to 20 airport customers across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean and has processed over 21 million travellers.
Vancouver Airport Authority was first in the world to introduce a self-service border control solution designed to automate the administrative functions of United States Customs and Border Control. YVR’s solution has been sold to 20 airport customers across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean and has processed over 21 million travellers. The solution was previously hosted in an on-premise data centre and needed to be migrated for a number of reasons.
In addition to high availability, scalability and a high degree of security, a key component of the implementation was to include a disaster recovery environment, continually tested for low Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) recoverability.
Apart from the central application that uses multiple databases and applications, there were over 550 kiosks communicating to the system. Along with security and availability requirements there were complex networking requirements to connect airports and kiosks using several methods, including VPN.
AWS and Partner Solution
TriNimbus Technologies was brought on very early to consult on the project and subsequently recommended Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the platform of choice as it met the critical high availability, scalability and security requirements.
After careful analysis, an architecture was designed together with a plan of the deployment phases that included risk identification and mitigation. The plan called for the creation of a staging environment for Proof of Concept (PoC), simulating a fleet of airport kiosks ensuring that PoC criteria were met, that satisfied all system requirements.
AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is an excellent platform providing the required security for this workload, using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances for its application and supporting servers. Within AWS EC2, YVR is using Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to automatically distribute incoming traffic between multiple AWS EC2 instances – these EC2 instances form part of Auto-Scaling Groups (ASG) providing the required scalability and fault tolerance. The design also uses multiple Availability Zones (AZ) for additional protection and redundancy of all systems. YVR also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to store backups and Amazon CloudWatch to proactively monitor its EC2 instances through the AWS Management Console and the alerting capability.
YVR is using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for its workload database platform. YVR chose to use AWS RDS for all the advantages offered by a fully managed database platform. Using RDS removes the need to perform typical administrative tasks as well as the complexities of managing a fault tolerant deployment. YVR uses the RDS service in a Multi-Availability Zone (Multi-AZ) configuration for its redundancy and near-instant failover capability.
YVR is leveraging the disparate AWS regions for disaster recovery with the Production systems residing in one region while the Disaster Recovery systems reside in a different region. In addition, consistency of environments is maintained across regions through the use of AWS CloudFormation templates that define the VPC configuration and resources required.
The environment is mostly Microsoft based and several third-party management tools were easily deployed within the AWS environment to manage all remote airport kiosks, providing the platform to scale the tools as the number of kiosks grow over time.
The PoC was followed by a beta period during which several airports were migrated to AWS and operated there in live production. With that success, all remaining airports were subsequently migrated to the AWS platform. During this project the TriNimbus team worked closely with the YVR team guiding them through the process and supporting all manner of requests along the way.
The transition of all YVR customer airports from the on-premise system to AWS was a complete success. The addition of new customer airports is already underway and the system will continue to grow, leveraging the flexible nature of AWS as needs change. YVR has already benefited from the ability to quickly resize systems as needs change and this will continue to be beneficial as adoption of this system grows.
As the system went into production, TriNimbus transitioned to providing 24/7 support providing proactive monitoring and support services for the environment. We also continue to provide design and consulting services as the business continues to grow with more airports, additional application features and new services.