The thin client solutions from IGEL Technology are taking on a key role in the IT strategy of Swissport International Ltd. (Swissport). The world’s largest provider of ground handling services for the aviation sector is using IGEL hardware and software thin clients as a quick way of setting up client infrastructure and to reduce operating costs. Thanks to a DaaS (Desktop as a Service) model, the operating costs for each workstation should hopefully be reduced to less than €10 in the long term. Within Europe, the company currently operates around 1,500 thin clients at various sites, including Munich Airport. As far as personnel is concerned, the standardized remote-management of the IGEL workstations requires merely half a full-time position.
In order to be able to react more quickly to the changing needs of the market, Swissport has been centralizing, virtualizing and outsourcing its company IT in the Europe region with the help of Citrix software since 2003. As part of outsourcing, a global service provider furnishes the ground handler with a “fully managed desktop” with IGEL thin clients as efficient end devices. This “lean” and extremely flexible IT infrastructure enables the growth-oriented company to set up a completely new loading station with 300 employees in just three weeks for example.
A wide range of thin client solutions
As part of its migration efforts to date, Swissport uses IGEL thin client solutions at around half of its 3,000 or so IT workstations. Depending on the scenario, the company uses different thin client models with different operating systems in order to achieve the greatest possible savings. For example, the ground staff at Munich Airport uses the screen-integrated all-in-one IGEL UD9 LX thin client in order to allocate passenger buses and other resources in an extremely cost-efficient manner with the help of 3G and the integrated browser. Thanks to the Citrix XenApp and Cortado ThinPrint software solutions, Swissport is able to operate up to 100 thin clients and administer them in a fail-safe manner via a VPN tunnel using a 10 MBit/s wireless connection rather than the expensive airport LAN. Swissport also uses the IGEL Universal Desktop Converter 2 (UDC2) thin client software in order to convert existing airport PCs into remote-administrable software thin clients. This saves the logistics costs and customs charges associated with hardware replacement while reducing personnel requirements.
The key criteria in favor of IGEL were not only the quality of its solutions and its obvious thin client expertise but also the fact that it offers standardized remote management for all model ranges with no licensing fees involved. The IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS) solution comes supplied with all thin clients. Its key features include profile and group-based configuration and administration on the basis of samples and templates as well as the facility to assign profiles using a tree structure or drag and drop. With the help of this tool, Swissport can perform rollouts even more quickly and react immediately to organizational and technical changes. As proof of the system’s great efficiency, Swissport’s CIO Philipp Schlatter pointed out that the complete remote-management of all 1,500 thin clients merely takes up 50 percent of one full-time post.
Outlook: virtual desktops and multimedia
According to Philipp Schlatter, the fact that all IT work per 100 end devices – including installation, support and training – can be carried out by just one full-time employee is largely due to IGEL’s thin client solutions. As far as monthly operating costs are concerned, IGEL thin clients are already more than €30 cheaper than a “managed” PC. In the long term, the intention is to reduce the costs for the end devices to less than €10 per month. The plan is therefore to keep increasing the proportion of thin clients, e.g., with the help of virtual desktops, provided that the latency at the various sites permits it. Video conferences are another interesting option for the future. Swissport has already performed successful tests with the Microsoft Lync unified messaging solution.
“When it comes to achieving a particularly flexible, efficient and reliable IT infrastructure, we always try to avoid problems rather than solving them with a disproportionate use of resources,” explained Philipp Schlatter, CIO at Swissport. “With the low-maintenance thin client solutions from IGEL, we achieved our goal.”