Air Botswana is experiencing significant business growth serving the thriving Southern Africa region. But the airline's disparate IT infrastructure, cobbled together over many years, was a drain on resources and could not deliver the business capabilities needed to support continued growth. By deploying Windows Essential Business Server 2008 Premium, the company has simplified IT management, cut costs, and acquired the right foundation for essential strategic applications.
Air Botswana is in an enviable position. As a full-service air carrier, it has a strong reputation built on skilled engineering, solid operations, and a modern fleet of aircraft. In addition, it serves the vibrant and growing market of the Southern African cone, including Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The opportunities for growth are excellent. The company's IT infrastructure, however, was having difficulty supporting its current business, let alone positioning the company to take advantage of new opportunities.
When Paul Champane joined the company as IT Manager in January 2008, he quickly realized the limitations Air Botswana faced. "Our infrastructure had a lot of pieces, including network management tools, firewall hardware and software, and a number of proprietary applications that were not integrated at all," he explains. "Managing all these components was very time consuming, and problems that resulted in lost production time were a weekly occurrence."
Realizing that the airline couldn't sustain health or growth with this infrastructure, Champane worked with his IT services provider, HiPerformance Systems Botswana, on a full infrastructure analysis. It became clear that not only did Air Botswana need a more efficient infrastructure to cut costs, but it also needed an IT foundation that could be built upon easily. "We knew we needed the ability to better integrate our line of business applications in order to move the business forward," notes Champane.
After fully analyzing its infrastructure and exploring upgrade options, Air Botswana decided to deploy Windows® Essential Business Server because of its superior efficiency and manageability. “We looked at a number of possible infrastructure solutions," says Champane. "We chose Windows Essential Business Server Premium because of its ease of deployment and manageability. It allows us to
||Our infrastructure had a lot of pieces ... that were not integrated at all. We knew we needed a different solution to support growth.
IT Manager, Air Botswana
manage our network, consolidate our infrastructure components, and integrate our applications—all of which increase our efficiency." Champane was also attracted by the fact that because Windows Essential Business Server is built on familiar Microsoft technologies, it wouldn't require large amounts of training. "It became clear that Windows Essential Business Server was the best solution to our problems and a very good fit for a business of our size."
By upgrading to Windows Essential Business Server Premium, Air Botswana transformed its infrastructure by simplifying IT management and lowering overall IT costs. The new solution also provides a stable platform—based on the latest Microsoft technologies—which will allow Air Botswana to better integrate its line-of-business applications and add additional strategic tools to fuel its growth.
- A simpler, more reliable infrastructure. By upgrading to Windows Essential Business Server, Air Botswana consolidates a number of infrastructure components, including network management tools, firewall hardware, firewall software, and numerous proprietary applications. As a result, the company is experiencing much higher levels of reliability. This is directly benefitting day-to-day operations. “Troubleshooting all of our unintegrated components was extremely time-consuming,” notes Champane, “and lost production time was not unusual.” In the air travel industry, this can be disastrous. “If my users can’t bring up ticket information, they can’t help the customer. If the system is down, business stops.”
- Simpler management. The deployment of Windows Essential Business Server has greatly simplified the day-to-day management of Air Botswana’s infrastructure. “Our new solution gives us the solid core and integrated toolset that enables everything we need to do,” says Champane. "We can manage the network and the firewall from one console, and we do less firefighting. We're now able to proactively and remotely take care of patch management and software deployment, which saves a great amount of time.” Next, Champane plans to use the Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 data management software included in Windows Essential Business Server Premium to integrate his key line-of-business applications, including the accounting, revenue management, and help desk systems. “Integrating these critical applications will not only reduce our costs but improve uptime as well,” he says. “The solution allows us to grow because it’s easy to build on.”
An unexpected but important benefit of Windows Essential Business Server is having best practices built-in. “Our previous infrastructure was complicated and not well documented,” explains Champane. “With our new solution, best practices for deployment, configuration, and administration are built-in and we end up with a very well-documented network. All of this saves time and money.”
- Reduced costs. Upgrading its infrastructure has brought Air Botswana cost savings in a number of areas.
- Reduced licensing costs. Windows Essential Business Server delivers core, full-version software, integrated by design, with one server license and one Client Access License. The combined licenses reduce Air Botswana’s annual license costs by 30 percent, from U.S.$40,000 to $28,000.
- Simplified software patch management. Patch management activities which used to take one person one day per week can now be done in 30 minutes per week or less.
- Remote software deployment. A typical application deployment took two to three weeks, since each PC had to be visited, including those in distant field offices. Now the process will be remote and automated, saving considerable labor resources.
- Remote system management. Many of Air Botswana’s users are in field offices up to 800 kilometers from corporate headquarters. Using the integrated Microsoft System Center Essentials, Champane and his staff can proactively manage systems and solve problems from headquarters, reducing expensive field visits.
- Hardware consolidation. By deploying Windows Essentials Business Server and increasing the integration of line-of-business applications, Air Botswana will be able to eventually consolidate its ten servers down to six, reducing both maintenance and management costs.
- Increased competitive advantage. For Air Botswana, Windows Essential Business Server brings increased competitiveness. "I definitely see this new solution giving us a competitive advantage," explains Champane. "Before, my team spent 80 percent of its time on maintenance and firefighting—just keeping the infrastructure running. With Windows Essential Business Server, I estimate that this will be reduced to 50 percent. That frees up a significant amount of resources that can be used to focus on strategically growing our business capabilities."
Windows Essential Server Solutions
Windows Essential Business Server 2008 is part of the Windows Essential Server Solutions family, designed to help small and midsize businesses boost productivity and growth. Based on the latest innovations, Windows Essential Server Solutions dramatically simplify the deployment, ongoing management, and use of server technology. For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: