LOT Polish Airlines is the flag-carrier airline for Poland, connecting Central and Eastern Europe to 90 destinations worldwide. As the only airline in the region to offer direct long-haul flights to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul, LOT operates all long-haul flights with the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
With passenger numbers growing by almost 30% annually, LOT Polish Airlines needed to ensure its systems could support rapidly expanding business. To gain flexibility and break the linear relationship between business growth and IT costs, LOT migrated from Red Hat Enterprise Support to SUSE Liberty Linux, reducing operating system subscription fees by 50% and cutting long-term TCO by an estimated 30%. Introducing SUSE Manager also helped cut administration workload.
“It took just two weeks to deploy SUSE Manager, and we are now saving significant time and effort in patch management and reporting."
LOT is enjoying rapid growth: over the past year passenger numbers jumped from 5 million to 7 million, and the next target is 9 million. To ensure that travel on LOT remains safe, punctual, convenient and economical, LOT must also scale up its IT systems.
With infrastructure growing at around 30% annually, LOT faced rising costs in both software licensing and operational management. The company runs practically all key systems — scheduling, ticketing, navigation planning, budgeting and so on — on Linux, and it approached its existing OS vendor to negotiate a simpler, more scalable subscription model.
Marek Truszkowski, IT systems administrator at LOT Polish Airlines, says: “Our support costs for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) were rising rapidly, and the model was complex and inflexible. We also had concerns about the quality of vendor support available in Poland.”
Working with its partner SoftGen, LOT set out to reduce TCO and gain a flexible platform for ongoing growth. SUSE offered lower subscription fees and no restrictions on the number of virtual instances, plus full support for LOT’s existing Red Hat Enterprise Linux instances at a lower fee than Red Hat itself was offering.
“Our initial migration from Red Hat Enterprise Support to SUSE Liberty Linux produced 50% savings in subscription costs,” says Truszkowski. “The SUSE pricing model is straightforward and clear, and we can run an unlimited number of virtual machines, so our costs will no longer increase in direct proportion to our growth.”
Some of the aviation applications LOT uses are supported only on RHEL, so the ability to have full support from SUSE for the entire Linux landscape was vital. Truszkowski says, “We now have Polish-speaking L1 and L2 support in-country, which gives us additional assurance that we can keep our Linux-based systems in perfect condition at all times.”
Aided by SoftGen, LOT transitioned the majority of its systems to being based on SLES, including SAP ERP and a number of databases: PostgreSQL, Oracle, MongoDB and MySQL. LOT added the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension to cluster critical instances of PostgreSQL. “The migration was smooth and fast, thanks to excellent work by SoftGen,” says Truszkowski. “A couple of minor issues were quickly ironed out by the outstanding SUSE support services.”
With two data centers and 500 servers — physical and virtual — to manage, LOT also wanted a way to reduce IT administration workload. The airline selected SUSE Manager for its ability to handle both SUSE and Red Hat distributions.
“It took just two weeks to deploy SUSE Manager, and we are now saving significant time and effort in patch management and reporting,” says Truszkowski.
Since implementing SUSE Liberty Linux, LOT has halved its subscription fees and gained the flexibility to run unlimited virtual instances of the OS. As the business grows — without needing to pay higher OS fees — LOT estimates that its total cost of ownership for Linux will be 30% lower.
“The SUSE licensing model will definitely help us achieve our growth goals,” says Truszkowski. “The flexibility of the OS is a major benefit. We also appreciate the YaST graphical management tool, which makes it clear and easy to configure services.”
Using SUSE Manager saves time and effort in patching, which is particularly valuable for systems that require PCI-DSS compliance. The solution also makes OS upgrades easier across the large virtual landscape and enables administrators to manage both distributions of Linux from a single console.
“We are delighted with the flexibility and pro-client approach of both SUSE and SoftGen,” says Truszkowski. “In particular, the speed of access to local language support helps us diagnose and resolve potential issues much faster. In our safety-critical industry, this is an important benefit.”