The airline industry survives and thrives on on-time performance that ensures that its fleet spends the least time on the ground while transporting the maximum number of passengers or goods to the widest of destinations. To achieve these goals, the companies require seamless global network connectivity that ensures minimal flight delays and zero instances of misplaced baggage.
Technology companies have worked tirelessly to bring solutions that would make airline operations seamless and provide passengers with the best of service, possibly the key differentiator in the highly competitive sector. So, it comes as no surprise that Indigo Airlines, the country’s largest, announced that it has deployed Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution across its branch offices to secure its WAN edge.
IndiGo has market share of 46.9% as of March, 2019 and connects 58 domestic and 19 international destinations, operating more than 1,300 flights every day. It is also the largest individual Asian low-cost carrier in terms of jet fleet size and passengers carried, and the seventh largest carrier in Asia. With a fleet size of 222 aircraft, IndiGo has served over 300 million customers globally.
According to Lalit Gole, Associate – Director IT – Networks & Infrastructure, IndiGo, “IndiGo’s growing passenger traffic combined with poor MPLS network and Internet quality had resulted in delays for customers accessing their applications for flight booking, call centers, airport counters and flight status checking, adversely affecting their business.”
To avoid delays and provide the best possible user experience for business-critical applications, the airline decided to adopt a hybrid WAN model, supporting its 54 airport counters that would be able to distribute traffic over a variety of links, including MPLS, Broadband and Internet Leased Line.
After rounds of evaluation, IndiGo selected Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution to provide best of breed SD-WAN integrated with security capabilities with one single offering.
“Transitioning to hybrid WAN was our business priority as our customers and airport counters need seamless application access connecting with a link that has the lowest latency. Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution helps us with application routing, load balancing, performance monitoring and securing our customers data all in a single appliance, which reduces management complexity and delivers significant cost benefits,” says Gole.
In a recent press release, the company said, “As part of the Fortinet Security Fabric, Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution combines networking and security features, such as routing, WAN optimization, application control and next-generation firewall, enabling IndiGo to manage and configure its WAN and security system from a single-pane-of-glass view.”
“Many customers are currently forced to use multiple point products and management consoles to achieve a secure SD-WAN connection. This separation of network and security operations is not only labor-intensive, but also makes performance and security a bottleneck to move towards direct internet access,” said Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC at Fortinet.
Fortinet’s unique combination of next-generation firewall and SD-WAN in the same offering, managed through a single centralized controller has seen tremendous momentum in customer adoption and receivedtwo consecutive SD-WAN “Recommended” ratings from NSS Labs.”
IndiGo has also deployed multiple FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls at 54 airport counters and in their datacenters, along with FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer for management and analytics. As a result, IndiGo can now map WAN resources directly making the network more efficient and responsive by combiningscalability, flexibility, simplicity and cost savingswith industry-leading security protection through Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution, says Gole.
Industry experts believe that old legacy systems are unable to handle the exponential surge in passenger volume, fleet sizes, along with increasing customer expectations and global expansion of airline companies.
“Investment in innovative products and technologies will bring new cost items to meet passenger expectations. Airlines will continue to experience heavy competition, and financial success will depend upon its increasing reliance on technology to provide better business outcome, operational efficiencies and lower costs,” said Priyanka Chimakurthi, Senior Research Analyst, Airlines, Frost & Sullivan.
To harness long-term, consistent growth prospects, Chimakurthi recommends that airlines take wider advantage of opportunities provided by disruptive technologies such as blockchain, biometrics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, internet of things and big data as part of digital transformation programs to retain and enhance their positions in the market.
Progressive airlines are increasingly realizing that digital transformation (a complete overhaul or in parts) is nothing less than a survival strategy in this highly competitive market. Hence, Indigo’s move to upgrade its network performance can be a case in point of airlines planning to create a digital strategy for their businesses.