As CIO of the newly independent Gatwick Airport since its divestment from BAA, the operator of Heathrow and Stansted airport, Stuart Birrell is piloting a new IT strategy for the Sussex airport.

The airport relied heavily on the IT infrastructure of Heathrow airport when it was part of the BAA empire and Birrell sees utility computing as one part of the mix of technologies that will improve customer service and drive down costs.

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“The cloud has very much come to consciousness since I’ve been here,” he says of the industry hubris surrounding cloud computing. But that doesn’t mean that Gatwick Airport will not take advantage of it.

“Heathrow provide our disaster recovery and Gatwick back to Heathrow,” Birrell says of the current set up. “When that goes I will have no disaster recovery, so I’ll stick that off-site and that will probably be the start of cloud computing here.

“'I am inheriting over 200TB of SAN storage which has obvious opportunities to rationalise both in the historic business content and the technology. Presenting the true cost of utility storage is a major goal to help manage business expectations regarding their data,” he says. Of course airports do have a high requirement for instantly available data, but the CIO expects to make considerable savings by considering moving data that is only occasionally used to the cloud.

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