Air New Zealand's systems revamp spells massive savings in running the company's worldwide desktop and server operations.
The airline expects to save 30% in running costs now it has finished implementing a standard platform across more than 16 countries.
The airline has a standard configuration of Windows NT and Compaq hardware for its 4000 desktops and 200 servers, both locally and globally.
Before the international roll-out started in January, regional offices had a mish-mash of operating systems, applications and hardware ó some of them proprietary to the airline industry. In some cases, every machine in an office was different.
Air NZ networks and desktop infrastructure manager, Andrew Care, says other airlines would like to do what the company has done regarding standardising desktops and servers and realising the resultant cost savings.
His experiences with the project have been received with interest by other members of the Star Alliance industry group (United, Air NZ, SAS, Lufthansa, Thai, Varig, ANA, Ansett, Air Canada, Mexicana) at working groups. Air New Zealand has also been working with Ansett Australia which is also standardising its IT platform.
Care says with the new platform Air NZ's IT corporate division has a much better handle on what its issues are, what applications are failing and what applications people need to be trained on. "We know how many units are out there and have a better understanding of the infrastructure itself. Now when we roll out applications it takes a day rather than a month.
"It makes the next version of Windows much easier to roll out although with Windows 2000 we would have to think carefully about how we would structure the directory."
The 30% TCO reduction figure comes from a similar figure that the airline has made since it standardised its 55 New Zealand sites last year.
"Air NZ is nowhere near as big overseas as it is in New Zealand so we won't always get the same deals there as here, but we have tried to mitigate that by doing things centrally. With our major suppliers such as Microsoft and Compaq the support agreements are global so even the smallest offices get the same rate as we do [here]."
A key component of Air NZ's project is that all of the airline's desktop and server management is outsourced to Wang New Zealand. Wang, which won the contract over 22 contenders last year, has been instrumental in the local and global standardisation project.
Wang has a centralised LAN management (CLM) model which means all repairs are handled on its premises rather than having technical staff fixing problems at the customer's site. Instead, Wang sends a technical courier out with a replacement machine, and the problem unit is taken back to Wang for repair.
This model has worked well in terms of bringing TCO down in New Zealand, but when Wang looked for overseas service providers with a similar approach it was in for a shock.
"Wang NZ, not being part of an international organisation, needed to select local representatives to be used on the ground in each region ó mainly to perform ëbreak, fix and desktop replacement' services," says Mark Hardie, Wang client director for Air NZ. "It was an eye opener. We found that large organisations in the UK and the US were still sending an engineer out to the site to open the machine there. That's an expen-sive way of doing things. Obvi-ously in services it's the people cost which pushes TCO up."
So Wang had to introduce and train regional services providers on its own model. "A lot of these firms hadn't been down that road," says Hardie. "Possibly Australia was the closest."
Countries where Air NZ has offices are Canada, the Pacific Islands, the US, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Italy.