Tabrez Surve, Regional Director – Gulf, Levant and Turkey, F5 Networks, tells us how the company is helping operators in the aviation sector succeed in their Digital Transformation journeys.
How big is aviation as a segment for F5?
Aviation is one of our key verticals across the globe and it holds true even in the Middle East. Ten out of 10 global airlines and every major airport across the globe are customers of F5 solutions. Many airlines in the Middle East, including airports, utilise F5 solutions to ensure their applications are highly secure and available. In many ways, F5 has become the preferred solution even to the ancillary service providers to the aviation industry.
What are the key technology challenges in the aviation sector?
Technology and data are central to the aviation industry.The aviation industry is facing a lot of complexity and new challenges. They are going through a hyper-competitive era, which means an increasing number of airlines and airports are competing for a diminishing number of resources.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has resulted in intense pressure on the industry. Added to that, every organisation is growing through Digital Transformation. Predictive analytics, Machine Learning and AI is being widely adapted to serve better customer experience.
According to our State of Application Services (SOAS) report, 91% of surveyed EMEA organisations now have specific Digital Transformation execution plans in progress.
Today we’re seeing organisations in Egypt and the Middle East – irrespective of industry or function – becoming more application-centric in order to boost innovation, move faster and adapt to increasingly nuanced user demands.
In fact, we’re starting to see many moving beyond the first phase of Digital Transformation – business process automation – and start to scale their digital footprint with purposeful technology as it relates to cloud, automation and containers.
For the aviation industry, the most important needs are availability and security. Airlines and airports are running 24/7 and their IT infrastructure and services must be available seamlessly at all times. At F5 we’ve done a lot of work in this area in the industry, covering both airlines and airports. Whether an organisation is hosting its applications on premises or in the cloud, or a combination of the two, we ensure they are available from end-to-end at any given point of time.
What type of applications does F5 deal with in the aviation sector?
F5 solutions, including purpose-built hardware designed to enhance the performance and scalability of our software, are typically deployed in front of web and application servers utilised within the aviation industry. They enable customers to manage data, voice and video traffic, and perform compute-intensive functions such as encrypting and decrypting transmissions, screening traffic for security threats and maintaining open connections with servers.
We cover everything from the booking and ticketing applications which airlines use for online ticket bookings to general enterprise applications, mission critical applications that enable airlines to fly their planes and applications that help airports to run smoothly.
What are the biggest software and IT challenges that aviation sector faces?
The aviation industry is being impacted by the move to digitalisation. Legacy technology is becoming more of an issue. The aviation sector needs to be at the forefront of technology in order to stay ahead of the competition.
A related challenge is interoperability issues between different applications and systems of different airlines and airports. In aviation, it’s critical that applications are interoperable with other environments, so that – for example – one airport can interact with another airport without any problem. Airports also need to be able to cater to various airlines, so their systems need to interoperate securely.
With the advent of newer technologies like Blockchain, Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, the aviation industry is trying to accustom itself with these technologies. F5 works with airlines and airports to help them overcome challenges of this nature.
What are some of the common apps used in the industry?
Airlines and airports handle a massive amount of information regarding fleet, passenger data and destinations. They also need to manage their operations and at the same time need to increase their revenues and profitability to ensure smooth running.
There are a number of dedicated software applications utilised by both airlines and airports. Additionally, like any other enterprise, they also have the standard applications catering to customer care and employee management. With the advent of the latest technologies, they are adapting a lot of applications as a service through cloud providers. Depending on the size of the airline or airport, there are also a number of software applications utilised for each area of expertise from fleet management and maintenance to ticketing and reservations systems.