How Porter Airlines bypasses the public Internet to connect with mission-critical partners

Connecting with people via a social network is as easy as a click — regardless of where the other person is in the world —  but connecting with an IT provider in the era of cloud is still not that simple.

It’s a problem that Console Inc. set out to solve, and Porter Airlines Inc. is one of its latest customers. The Canadian airline is currently bypassing the public Internet to privately connect with “mission-critical” partners, including Amazon Web Services and business-critical aviation software.

Eschewing the public Internet to connect to the cloud or other enterprises isn’t new, but the typical approach is to use multiple direct connections or costly network solutions such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

Daniel Donovan, vice president of information systems and technology for Porter, said simplicity was a big draw for the airline as it migrates a number of functions and services to the cloud and wanted to more effectively connect them to its core network. Porter’s IT team supports about 1,400 internal users as well as consumers booking travel through its website that connects to a back-end reservation system.

Porter was working with its technology partners and exploring various options when it came across the Console solution, said Donovan: “The offering was fairly unique.”

The airline’s access to the Console platform will be enabled by Q9, a member of Console’s partner program. Key benefits for the airline include enhanced connectivity and redundancy, along with reduced bandwidth usage, he added.

A key focus for Porter is improving its speed to market, so being able to scale its connectivity is critical, said Donovan.

“We have a business that has large peaks and valleys in terms of capacity demand,” he added.

The company saw some immediate benefits in that regard, as well as redundancy, which is critical for an airline such as Porter, he said, adding it means it always has its backups on its core networks.

In the longer term, Porter has the option of connecting to new service providers through Console as they become available.

“That gives us flexibility and speed to market as we look to our own growth plans,” said Donovan.

Now based in Silicon Valley, Console, an division of IIX, actually has its roots in Canada and was founded in 2011. Al Burgio, CEO and founder of IIX and Console, noted that as organizations become more and more dependent on cloud, they are looking to have a consistent and private user experience.

“That’s not always available when accessing cloud on public Internet,” said Burgio.

Console created a virtual routing technology that enables it to specifically spin up virtual routers for its customers and auto-generate the necessary configuration elements so customers don’t have to deal with writing code, according to Burgio, making it simple to connect regardless of geographic location, much like adding a contact on a social network.

“Historically, it’s been configuration intensive. We went a step further.”

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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