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Ready for Takeoff

Fraport on the up with SAS®9 Business Intelligence Architecture

As owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport, Fraport AG is one of the world's leading airport companies. Frankfurt Airport had 53.5 million passengers in 2008, making it the third largest airport in Europe. It has become Germany's largest employment complex at a single location, with more than 500 companies and organizations providing jobs for approximately 70,000 people. With its associated companies and subsidiaries, Fraport AG is active at over 60 locations around the world.

Framework supports decision making 
Frankfurt Airport is definitely on the up:

  • Fraport consistently achieves record numbers for passengers and freight. 
  • A fourth runway is planned, as is a third terminal. 
  • The airport's operational managers depend on correct, consistent and reliable information to guide this dynamic growth to further success.

Questions managers ask often include: How fast will passenger numbers grow? Where is the hidden potential for optimizing current business? What interactions are there between individual flight management processes?

These – and other questions – could only be partially answered with Fraport's previous heterogeneous IT infrastructure, which had evolved over many years. With a variety of applications developed for specific purposes, it was difficult for the company to see the big picture of flight operations in Frankfurt. And the uncontrolled growth of applications resulted in high operating costs.

Roland Krieg, PhD, Senior Vice President of Information and Telecommunication and CIO at Fraport AG, states the challenge facing the company IT department very clearly: "For me, it was important to obtain an answer to the question, 'What can IT do to provide the information that will enable management to make decisions faster?'" The answer was equally unambiguous: Fraport needed a business intelligence architecture – a framework for applications that would support
decision making by senior managers and specialized departmental employees alike – now and in the future.

One big picture from many sources
Fraport's Business Intelligence Architecture Framework (BIAF) is the solution that now serves as Fraport's information backbone. Based on SAS, BIAF integrates information on past and future flight movements, passenger and employee data, flight delays, weather reports and more – all information extracted from operational applications – giving a common overview of flight operations.

For example, BIAF tells air traffic controllers whether storms are expected, and gives managers an overview of all key performance indicators in near-real time, including average times for luggage delivery, delay causes for all flights and airport security levels. The business data is refreshed every five minutes. Both managers and operational experts monitor reports via their PCs and mobile devices.

The airline's overall IT architecture is designed for the challenges of the future, so Fraport experts can quickly display new processes and integrate further reporting solutions with much less effort.

Carefully defined interfaces and companywide standardized metadata guarantee the flexibility and scalability of BIAF. Information is accessed via a Web-based reporting environment, individually tailored to the employees' tasks. Currently BIAF has 660 total users, a 95 percent increase since 2007.

These information consumers can download predefined reports, containing summaries of the relevant data. Key users – employees in specialist departments who wish to produce their own, more in-depth reports, or ask ad hoc questions – can make multidimensional analyses at the click of a button.

How did the Fraport IT experts meet these varied user requirements and ensure the flexibility and scalability of the architecture while guaranteeing the consistency of the overall picture?

The answer is to be found in the SAS Business Analytics Framework, which provides business intelligence, data integration and analytic technologies. SAS integrates all the necessary steps for knowledge production – from data management, data quality, warehousing, analysis and forecasting, through to reporting and distribution of the information.

For instance, Fraport relies on SAS Data Integration Server to deliver fully consistent and accurate data. This data integration platform supports a central, continuous metadata structure, displaying not only technical but also business management and administrative information – such as archive data or access rights. Likewise, the SAS Enterprise BI Server creates business intelligence for everybody. Multiple buttons meet the various user requirements and provide reporting and analysis functions in every degree of detail.

Dieter Steinmann, Senior Manager of Business Systems at Fraport, summarizes the decision to use  SAS: “We decided to extend BIAF with SAS for two reasons – from a strategic standpoint, because the SAS solution offered the necessary  guarantee for the future, and from a functional standpoint because it is sufficiently powerful to produce one big picture out of the myriad items of information.”

Why didn't Fraport develop BIAF with the SAP Business Warehouse, which was already installed in the company for operational business tasks? Steinmann explains: "We saw advantages of SAS and SAP in different domains, and therefore used the systems where they have their respective strengths."

Since bringing the power of SAS to BIAF more than two years ago, Fraport has noticed the following benefits:

  • Consistent, reliable overview of flight operations. 
  • Display of complete processes over the whole company. 
  • Simple and fast integration of new tasks and requirements. 
  • Faster, better and simpler reporting on a common database. 
  • Individual items of information in real time available to management and specialist departments. 
  • Business intelligence for everybody; in-depth analysis for specialist users. 
  • Lower operating costs for the business intelligence infrastructure. 
  • Financial control enabled through integration of data from SAP BW.

Strategic intelligence at Fraport
Fraport and SAS specialists deliberately invested quite a lot of time in the design of the architecture during the conceptual phase. Carefully defined standards for data control, security questions, authorizations and definitions of who does what ensure that, later on, IT experts can react very quickly and flexibly to new requests.

The payback on this investment includes very short development and implementation times for subsequent individual reporting applications. The first BIAF solution went live in July 2005 – a reporting application for flight incidents, where current and historical data are summarized, including the destination, customer structure and delays.

With BIAF, Fraport's IT experts have created a strong basis for directing flight operations. Fraport has also linked data from SAP BW with SAS. Now the questions about costs, revenues and process profitability can be answered – information that cannot be derived from SAP BW alone.

"We can answer new questions from management better and quicker, produce reports and reduce IT infrastructure costs, all without any major effort," says Krieg.

Krieg advises his peers in other organizations to support management by setting up similar BI architectures. "I recommend that business intelligence be seen as a strategic task for the CIO, thereby avoiding the situation where you have a mass of individual solutions delivering inconsistent data, which will cause people to make bad decisions."

Copyright © SAS Institute Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Fraport AG

Fraport AG

Enjeux;:
Create a companywide information system for management and specialized departments that set the standards for business intelligence.
Solution :
SAS Enterprise Intelligence Platform supports a central, continuous metadata structure, displaying not only technical, but also business management and administrative information. 
Avantages:
Reduction of time and costs for business intelligence; optimal enterprise performance. 

We can answer new questions from management better and quicker, produce reports and reduce IT infrastructure costs, all without any major effort. 

Dr. Roland Krieg

Senior Vice President of Information and Telecommunication and CIO, Fraport AG

En savoir plus:

This story appears in the 
3er trimestre 2009 issue of

sascom Magazine