Page Two

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2004-09-27 Print this article Print

For WAN connectivity for airport personnel, the network provides a pair of 3Com Router 5680s, and airlines provide their own routers and WAN links.

The new transportation complex will use VOIP (voice over IP) extensively. Some 250 handsets are scattered around the airport. "Every telephone in the building will be VOIP," said Berkheimer.

That connectivity is provided by six 3Com SuperStack 3 NBX Networked Telephony IP PBXes. The IP PBXes and IP handsets are powered by the 3Com SuperStack 3 Switch 4400PWRs installed in wiring closets.

The airport authority wanted to deal with a single vendor and a single maintenance contract for the network. It chose 3Com as its network provider because of a good track record already established with the airport as well as other factors.

"I dont feel comfortable with Ciscos VOIP solutions," said Berkheimer, who said he had heard of reliability problems with Cisco VOIP offerings. "Places around here tried [them] and replaced [them] because of reliability problems. And also [Ciscos VOIP offering] runs on Windows. This way, I dont have to worry about denial-of-service attacks and viruses and other things the Cisco platform has to deal with."

3Coms switch hardware also has more available throughput on it, and Berkheimer was comfortable enough with past 3Com support to "bring it out on a large scale like this. Cost was a final factor. It wasnt the item that made up my mind, but it was a third less than what the Cisco solution was," he said.

The network was designed to support applications from each of the eight airlines, six rental car agencies as well as food and retail shops—along with all their voice traffic. The primary application for airlines and rental car agencies is provided by Sabre Holdings Corp., of Southlake, Texas, as well as other reservation systems.

Airport authority applications include Microsoft Corp.s Navision accounting software, Datastreams MP2 facility maintenance application, a property management system, and Web and Microsoft Exchange e-mail.

The network also supports wireless access. The airport authority opted to make that access free to travelers as a competitive advantage over other airports. "Our biggest competition is Baltimore/ Washington International. They charge $8 a day. For us, its an extra perk that doesnt cost us much to provide. We already have the T-1s installed for our own Internet access. It wasnt a big deal to keep it separate from our traffic. Customer service has instructions on how to configure your laptop, so we have very few phone calls needing help," said Berkheimer.

The network, which cost about $600,000 to build, has been running since late August. Despite the initial push-back from airlines over the change, Berkheimer hasnt heard a peep from the tenants since the new facility opened. "The airline industry doesnt like change. As soon as you come up with a new idea, they have problems. We gave them no other choice. Today, [the networks] working and nobodys complaining," he said.

So far, users of the network are pleased. "Its working just fine. I think theres always concern when youre dealing with a job of that magnitude. But everything is running smoothly," said David Barbush, vice president of Barbush Rentals Inc., the Avis licensee at the Harrisburg airport.

Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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