Ensuring Continuity

Jul 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Ashley Roe

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Toronto Pearson International Airport - Canada's busiest airport, handling more than 31 million passengers a year - has deployed Planet Associates' Infrastructure Management Platform (IRM) to manage its network and hardware devices and protect against unexpected downtime. The system helps users document and visually manage enterprise assets, critical infrastructure and interconnectivity including logging the interdependencies among systems, networks, users, locations and services.

Toronto Pearson Airport is home to one of the most complex Cisco architectures in the world, encompassing 47 networks, 750 individual fiber cables, 40,000 horizontal drops, 174 equipment rooms, 29,900 patch cables and 459 copper backbone cables, all supporting fire and security systems, campus area networks and wireless Local Area Networks (LANs). To meet growing air travel needs and help enhance the economic growth and development of the Greater Toronto area, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) undertook a 10-year, $4.4 billion redevelopment plan that included terminal, airside and infield development as well as utilities and airport support.

GTAA deployed Planet IRM to track the airport's network and hardware devices and manage all moves, additions and changes during redevelopment. The tool manages systems in the airport's main control rooms and phone closets, tracking all hardware, rack elevations, equipment interconnections and power demands. “Planet IRM allows for automatic route planning instead of us having to sit down with paper records to determine where cables go and what they support,” says Chris Langley, manager of IT and Telecom services for the GTAA. “It's an added level of sophistication that would not otherwise exist.”

The platform can also help reduce system downtime and foster business continuity. The system displays a visual map of cable and conduit interdependencies, according to William Spencer, president and CEO of Planet Associates, Neptune, N.J., so that if an incident occurs, users can see which systems are impacted. “AutoCAD drawings of buildings and floor plans and Visio drawings showing where rack equipment is stored may include spreadsheets of deployed circuits and databases of IT and security assets, but the information, in most cases, is scattered all over the place,” Spencer says. “When that happens, you lose track of relationships between the data. With Planet IRM, users can quickly take a look at all infrastructure dependent on a specific circuit, and if a device fails, determine all other devices that are affected.”

Planet IRM is also deployed across the airport's security system network, which includes video, access control systems and emergency communication intercoms and PA systems. “The value of the security visibility provided by Planet IRM is huge from a cost and maintenance perspective,” says Ian Grant, GTAA general manager of engineering, architecture, information technology and telecommunication. “Maintenance workers can now have the necessary information about the devices at their fingertips, so they don't have to go searching for it.”In addition, the software is proving helpful for planning future building projects at Toronto Pearson Airport. If a new office is being constructed, GTAA performs all of the cabling design in Planet IRM, provides all the cabling numbers and routing to the contractor and puts out a request-for-proposal. This gives contractors a more accurate way to perform costing. “If we have a plan to install new servers or other hardware, we can simply go into Planet IRM, check out the phone closets and computer rooms and see what rack space is available instead of having to physically go to the site,” Langley says. “We can quickly identify where equipment will go, reserve that space and route circuits over existing copper and fiber or discover if there are additional circuit needs.”

The Planet IRM system can be integrated with help desk and real-time network monitoring applications, creating a centralized, end-to-end infrastructure management tool. The company says it can serve as a replacement for separate “stovepipe” programs such as Microsoft Excel, AutoCAD, Visio and Access.

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