How Air India SATS Digitised Airport Operations Across India

Air India SATS Airport Services (AISATS) is a joint venture between Air India Limited and SATS Limited to carry out ground handling and cargo management tasks at airports across India. AISAT was established in 2008 as part of the government’s plan to upgrade its airports to world-class facilities and increase the inflow of airlines to India. AISATS is known for providing seamless customer experiences.

AISATS is labour-intensive, and deals with a lot of data flowing in from disparate systems. Services like passenger and baggage handling, load control, flight operations, cabin cleaning, cargo handling, managing diverter flights, generate massive data that can be used for actionable business insights. AISATS didn’t have analytics capabilities to process information quickly and extract business insights. The company was at a crossroads and decided to tap IBM to undergo a digital overhaul.

To better understand how IBM helped AISATS in its digital transformation journey, Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Snehashis Ghosh, the Head of Technology at AISATS and Lingraju Sawkar, the General Manager, Global Technology Services at IBM India/South Asia.

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“We embarked on our digital transformation journey with a singular belief of enhancing our technology offerings, and that’s why we chose IBM as our partner. IBM, with its IT stewardship and legacy, is well-positioned to help us transform our business,” said Ghosh. 

Currently, AISATS mission-critical applications are hosted on the IBM Cloud. “With IBM Cloud, an active-passive cloud environment and a micro-service have been enabled at our Mumbai and Bengaluru locations. We have also subscribed to their endpoints system for our corporate headquarters in Mumbai and business operating locations of Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram,” added Ghosh.

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IBM Leading The Way

AISATS’ focus on de-risking its technology-related challenges drove the adoption of hybrid cloud. With IBM Cloud, AISAT not just protected its current investments on technology but also adopted the cloud’s scale and flexibility.

SAP being the core workload of AISATS business and operations, moving this to IBM Cloud helped them address operability challenges. SAP HANA on IBM Cloud also provided the performance needed, and the flexibility of IBM Cloud to integrate seamlessly with on-premise helped AISATS protect its current investments.

With the combination of cloud and services, IBM migrated SAP to cloud and integrated with the existing data centre to build a hybrid environment. The hybrid cloud approach helped to seamlessly move data within environments and tackled business continuity risks. 

AISATS also leveraged a unified security solution for security information management with IBM QRadar. A security intelligence platform, IBM’s Q-radar includes security information and event management (SIEM), log management, configuration monitoring, network behaviour anomaly detection, risk management, vulnerability management, and network vulnerability scanning to change the entire security posture. “This has enabled us to establish real-time monitoring and tracking of security. Additionally, the Q12 storage tool has helped us to manage data sizing to align with our overall business growth,” said Ghosh.

Talking about the journey, Ghosh said, the engagement with IBM has critically advanced our tech solution offerings. AISATS started maintaining its recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) and managed to keep a check on its overall tech-related risk and contained to an under-risk level.

“Further, the one-click solution offered by IBM has helped to improve our user-support management. IBM has even helped in deepening our technical expertise and achieving customer success across our locations,” said Ghosh.

The architecture behind

IBM QRadar helped in gaining risk-based insights to critical threats across a hybrid cloud and detecting and prioritising potential threats with security analytics.

Explaining the tech, Sawkar stated, the QRadar technology works by automatically combining log events and network flow data from thousands of devices, endpoints, and applications distributed throughout the network and correlating it to identify known and unknown threats. It also provided a single alert to accelerate incident analysis and remediation. 

QRadar leverages hundreds of pre-built security use cases, anomaly detection algorithms and real-time correlation policies to detect these known and unknown threats. Within each prioritised alerts, the security analysts can see the full chain of threat activity on a single dashboard, and can easily drill down into specific network flows for a comprehensive investigation. 

Further, AISATS has also implemented IBM’s AI expertise with Cognos to gain insights about operations, across their various sites that witness higher movement in passenger and cargo handling. “Currently, it has been deployed at its Bengaluru unit,” said Ghosh. Cognos leverages its AI capabilities to uncover patterns in the data and presents actionable insights about operations.

The entire stack includes SAP HANA, IBM Tivoli, IBM Control Desk, IBM SolarWinds storage resource monitor, and IBM’s interprocess communication. Further, AISATS has used a disaster recovery private cloud for its Bengaluru unit.

The Result

This entire project aimed to help AISATS in hardware requirements – which hampers their growth strategy — and build a predictable approach to their technology investments. IBM’s system allowed AISATS’ cargo workers to input shipment details, airline movement details regarding cargo, etc., in a more efficient and scalable manner. As a matter of fact, the COVID pandemic became a key trigger for this decision as the organisation was looking to move their important applications to cloud and set out on a digital transformation journey.

Talking about the partnership, Sawkar said, “We are very excited about our association with AISATS in helping them move their SAP applications to IBM cloud to bring in agility and scalability in a most secure environment for their business. Further, we are helping them in their hybrid cloud journey by managing their disaster recovery and providing governance and compliance services for data for better control over their infrastructure.”

Post IBM’s deployment, AISAT created a sustainable business environment by reducing its CAPEX and OPEX costs and started offering an enhanced service for its customers. The added benefit is the reduction in the time cycle for service delivery for AISATS. 

Air India SATS has also started taking steps to work on blockchain for their business as a vision to ensure more secured transactions in the future. “IBM cloud is far more secure and provides high-visibility on all the running stack,” concluded Ghosh.

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