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The CUTE system and its cousins FIDS (flight information display system), LDCS (local departure control system) and the soon-to-be-born--and renamed--CUSS (common-use self-service) systems are some of McCarran's most critical applications. They require not only good application functionality but service guarantees and redundancy at the system and infrastructure level.
That's a tall order, one that made airlines skeptical at first. But McCarran's vision prevailed, and today, all but one tenant carrier have joined the collective (for more on the benefits of CUTE and how McCarran won over the airlines see "Air Power," page 32).
IT Powered Convenience
McCarran will soon let travelers get a boarding pass and check in luggage at their hotels, before they leave for the airport. The self-service systems are the same as the Windows 2000 self-service terminals in the airport, only they're connected to the airport over a WAN circuit.
Indeed, McCarran's IT department and its leaders face the typical technological challenges--staying current on hardware and other infrastructure, providing good customer service, maintaining a helpdesk, justifying purchases and keeping up with staff professional development. They also have to work closely with the federal government's TSA (Transportation Security Authority), which hasn't exactly been a smooth ride.
Gerard Hughes, senior network analyst in charge of infrastructure at McCarran, says, "We've had to teach them the feds how we do business here. That's been a process for us." In fact, McCarran did have an incident with the TSA over closet infrastructure, but after some tough meetings, lines of communications have been established, which has helped to prevent further conflict.
Besides CUTE, McCarran has other projects keeping its IT staff hopping. Vincent Macri, a systems technician, gave us a peek at the airport's new video-surveillance system: Kalatel 2000E digital video recorders are hooked into more than 100 cameras all over the facility, from the gates to the parking toll booths, with gigabit uplinks to four Matrix E1 core switches. Even before 9/11, immigration-driven video-surveillance regulations had Hughes' team thinking about automating the system. Now, they're doing 8 frames per second and keeping the video in compressed format for about a month, which fits McCarran's surveillance needs nicely. Video is kept on the recorder's hard drive, and Macri burns DVDs as needed for evidence purposes.
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